Ohaneze Ndigbo Youth Council (OYC) Worldwide Sunday advised the Vice President, professor Yemi Osibanjo, to quit his 2023 presidential ambition and focus on his calling as a pastor or be ready to face humiliation.
President General of OYC, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, in a statement said from the handwriting on the wall, Osibanjo’s fate may be worse than that of former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen.
According to the statement, the outright sack of VP’s aides is a sign that he might face humiliation like Justice onneghen.
The statement reads I parts: “There is a sinister motive behind the sacking of VP Osibanjos political aides. This shows that VP Osibanjo might face humiliation like CJN Justice Walter Onneghen and he is likely on his way out of office. It is just a matter of time before he faces the worst treatment akin to what former CJN Onneghen witnessed.
“Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the National leader APC had likely seen this handwriting on the wall and carefully choose to support and side President Muhammadu Buhari instead of Osibanjo, his political godson.
“When Senator Ahmed Tinubu said that there is nothing wrong for the President to sign the offshore bills in London while observing his private visit without transmitting power to VP Osibanjo; it’s a clear testimony that VP Osibanjo is likely on his own and should mend his ways,” the statement reads.
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The Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode in this explosive interview with The Nigerian Express touched on very touchy past, present and future political issues in Nigeria.
He discussed about Buhari, Tinubu, Osinbajo, Awolowo, Obasanjo, Jonathan, IPOB, Biafra-Nigerian civil war, the North, The South and more.
Below is the interview.
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, a former minister is a lawyer, essayist, poet and a political activist. He spoke to AKANI ALAKA on the contemporary political developments in Nigeria, relations among the ethnic groups in the country, the civil war, agitations for self-determination, the need to restructure the country, as well as the jostling for the 2023 presidency among politicians from the South, among other issues.
QUESTION: Just recently, Nigeria celebrated its 59 Independence anniversary. You also celebrated your 59th birthday some days ago. As an historian and somebody whose father also played a significant role in ensuring that Nigeria became an independent nation, would you say the country’s founding fathers will be proud of the position the country is in now 59 years after?
ANSWER: I think we ought to have gone much farther than we have gone. And if I am to be frank, I will tell you that those that fought for Independence of Nigeria, including my father and many generations before them, will not be too pleased with the situation we are in today.
We were meant to have gone much further, become much stronger, much more united. We were meant to be the greatest asset of the Black man on planet Earth. But we have failed in all these respects. And consequently, I will have to say that I am rather disappointed.
We are like a giant that has shrunk into the position of a dwarf. We have been dwarfed in many ways – even by countries that are far smaller, with less potential than us, even in the African continent. And that’s not good enough. And I think it all boils down to one thing – the fact that we have had leadership that has not been the best for much of the past 59 years.
And of course, the other part of the problem is that we have not been able to answer the fundamental questions like, for example, the national question and the outstanding issues concerning the Nigerian civil war and so many other things.
And I think this is why our development has been stagnated and in many ways, has become retrogressive.
QUESTION: You talked about the national question – what is that national question and do you think there have been sincere efforts to address it?
ANSWER: I don’t even think most political leaders or politicians in Nigeria even know what the national question is. And that is really, really worrying because as long as you don’t answer that national question or address that issue, we will continue to go round in circles.
Of course, it starts with one fundamental question, which was asked in 1947 by the great Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his book, The Path To Nigerian Freedom. And the question was simply this – “Is Nigeria really a nation?” He (Awolowo) concluded by saying, No, that it’s a geographical expression.
He added that there is as much difference as between a German and a Turk as there is between a Fulani man and an Igbo man and everybody ought to be able to develop at his or her pace within his or her own region or zone. That was essentially Awolowo’s contention in 1947. And many decades later, I still think he was right.
We pretend to be one nation, we tell ourselves that we are one, but deep down, we know how much we resent one another for various reasons. We continue to act as if this is a marriage that is eternal, even though we don’t want it. That’s the reality of Nigeria’s situation today.
Most politicians will not say this to you because they are interested in getting votes from all over the country and so, they prostitute their principles and compromise on so many issues. But the new type of politicians that I think will deliver this country will not think like that. I don’t think like that.
I will rather tread the path of truth and justice than to say things that are politically correct in order to gain favour with Northerners or anybody from any other part of the country.
The path of truth is the path that will deliver this country into the light of God and the greatness that she deserves and we must not shy away from treading that path. We are not a nation; we are a union of ethnic nationalities that are yet to resolve our fundamental differences and fundamental issues.
The questions that were raised before the Nigerian civil war and in the course of that war are still being raised today. And my prayer is that it does not take another war or civil conflict in this country for us to resolve those issues.
We can resolve them in amicable and peaceful way, so that everybody will feel equal before God and everybody will feel they have equal opportunity to aspire and to excel in this country as citizens and not that we have some that are born to rule and some that are destined to serve.
QUESTION: How can we, as a country resolve this question – because some like the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, want every tribe in the country to go their separate ways as independent entities while others think restructuring of the polity will give every Nigerian a sense of belonging. On which side of the divide are you?
ANSWER: The battle for restructuring is dead and buried. Restructuring is not discussed in the National Assembly. It’s not discussed even in the main political parties. As long as they are concerned, restructuring is a dirty word.
To me, it is a way out of the mess that we have put ourselves in. But to most politically correct politicians, who are mostly insincere and cowardly, they won’t even talk about it. The leadership of the two main political parties – the PDP and APC – will not talk about it as a matter of policy and neither will most of the small political parties.
But this is something so obvious, that ought to have been done long ago, not now. And the problem now is that it may well be too late for that. The sentiment is so strong now for ethnic nationalism – it is happening all over the world. Look at what is happening in Germany, in the US with Trump, in the UK with Brexit, the right wing political parties in Europe like in Holland and Germany.
The rise of ethnic nationalism is going on all over the world and Nigeria cannot be isolated from that. In this country, we have major ethnic nationalities that see themselves as members of that nationality before seeing themselves as Nigerians.
There is nothing wrong with that. It’s the perfectly natural order of things and that is the conflict we have in Nigeria. This globalized hybrid state, that we must all become one, to my mind, is not natural. Yes, we can become one if we share common values, common vision, a common understanding about how life should be and common worldview.
But if we don’t have that, and if one believes that he is king and the others are slaves and must be slaves forever, then, on what basis can we continue to stay together? And why should we remain together, just because a rather misguided man in 1914 by the name of Lord Lugard, with his wife, decided that we should be together? I resent and reject that.
I am a proud Omo Kaaro o o jiire, I refused to use the word Yoruba. I am a proud son of Oduduwa and I believe proudly and passionately in the rights of the people of the South-west to self-determination, if that’s what they choose to do. I believe that the people of the East, the Igbo, have that right as well, if that’s what they choose to do.
And I believe in the power of referendum, self-determination and I think it is absolutely wrong for anybody to say I don’t have a right to exercise that right, provided I do it in a peaceful, logical and rational way.
QUESTION: Are you calling for the dissolution of Nigeria as a country then, because that is what this right to self-determination will amount to…
ANSWER: I’m calling for the self determination of any ethnic nationality that chooses to be self-determined based on referendum. This happens all over the world, international law backs it and it’s something that should be done, provided it’s what the people want and it is done peacefully. And that’s my view.
Even if I don’t believe in it, I don’t think it will be right for me to impose my will on others and deny them the right to believe in self-determination or the right to referendum to decide whether or not we should remain as one.
The UK that brought us together and declared our marriage one – between the poor husband of the North and the rich wife of the South – and said that we must remain one forever is doing that today.
They are brexit-ing, based on referendum, from Europe, and they are also doing it internally within the United Kingdom. Scotland had a referendum recently. They narrowly agreed to stay in the United Kingdom. If they hold another referendum in the next few years, definitely, Scotland is leaving United Kingdom.
All the polls suggest that, and they will be allowed to leave. It is on that basis of expression of freewill that you can say you will create and establish a nation. Now, if you don’t want that part to be taken by the people, the only way is to treat them with respect, love and apologise to them when you got it wrong. I will cite the case of the Igbo people and I have said it over and over again.
A situation where three million people -civilians- were killed during the civil war, the greatest act of genocide in the history of African continent -black on black, not white on black- because King Leopold ll killed 10 million Congolese.
But we killed three million Igbo -civilians, men, women and children- in a space of three years and we have not apologized for that. This is a crime against humanity. It is a war crime. And for that kind of thing, the Nigerian commanders in the field, the Nigerian Head of State at that time, all should be at ICC. But I haven’t called for that.
All I am saying is that, at least, we should have the decency to apologise and also apologise for the fact that between 30,000 and 100,000 of them were killed just before the civil war by mobs in the North. These are the fundamental issues.
Every country that has indulged in such barbarity in the past has apologised, including the Belgians. The only country that has refused to do so and has committed genocide is Turkey. And I don’t think we should be in the same bracket as Turkey.
They killed one million Christian Armenians and they haven’t acknowledged it. We don’t want to be in that category. Everybody else, including the Germans, what they did in the Second World War, 50 million people died, six million Jews gassed to death, they apologised.
Everybody at some time recognizes the power of apology, reconciliation and restitution but we haven’t done that. Instead, we are still killing Igbo people till today. Is that how a nation is built? And when they say they want to go because they are tired of being killed even now, we are still killing them.
It is unacceptable. Sadly, it is not just the Igbo now that are being killed; if you go to the Middle Belt, Niger Delta, the West, Mid-West you will find slaughter. All these slaughterings are being carried out by Fulani herdsmen and, of course, you have Boko Haram in the North-east. It is so bad that Fulani herdsmen are even killing the local Hausa in the North itself.
The ethnic group carrying out this havoc, seven per cent of the population, that’s what they are, and we will sit here and say we are one nation. We don’t have the right to retaliate, we don’t have the right to cry, we don’t have the right aspire to be leaders in this country because we are second class citizens, even, when we are the indigenous people of Nigeria.
And you are saying we must accept that? I will never do that. Unless they change and these things stop, Nigeria’s unity can never be something that will be accepted by all of us.
QUESTION: Some critics, especially from the North had always faulted the call for apology to the Igbo people over the civil war with the argument that the war was a reaction to the killings carried out in the first coup of 1966, led by officers who hailed mostly from the then Eastern region…
ANSWER: I am very conversant with the history; I am part of it. They came to my father’s house in January 1966; I was conversant with what they did. And my father was the only person that was taken away from home that night who was not killed. About 20 people -key leaders in the military and the government of that era- were killed.
My father only escaped by divine providence because the federal troops saved him at Dodan Barracks and I appreciate that. And I appreciate the pains that were caused that night because I felt the pains too. I will never forget it. I witnessed it. I saw it. And I suffered the consequences of that for many, many years because it traumatized me.
The killing of all those people was barbaric and unacceptable. I have said so. Definitely, the majority of the participants were Igbo, I am not disputing that. But the question that you have to first answer is did those Igbo officers conduct a referendum in the East before embarking on the coup? Did they do it on behalf of the Igbo people?
Because if you say you want to punish a whole ethnic nationality because of the action of a few people -barbaric action in terms of the slaughter. They killed 20 people. You now say you want to wipe out entire nationality, I think that’s an unacceptable behavior. The reaction is even more barbaric and quite unacceptable in my view.
QUESTION; The argument was that the killings took place during a war situation…
ANSWER: It was not a war, because there was a coup in January 1966, 20 leaders were killed from all over the country and only one leader was killed in the South-east. It was a tragedy. It was a wicked act. I accept that. But there was no war at the time, there was a coup, an attempted coup. The coup failed.
And what happened next? The Northerners now decided to do a counter coup. Again, there was no war. It was what they called a Northern revenge coup to avenge those that were killed in the first coup. And what did they do? Here is what they did.
They killed 300 Igbo officers in one night. They killed an Igbo Head of State – Ironsi. They killed a Yoruba Governor of the Western Region, Fajuyi and they killed a number of other people – all in one night. Now, look at it in numbers – 20 of yours were killed, you killed 300 of theirs, plus the Head of State and Yoruba Army officers six months later.
And there was no war declared. You didn’t stop there, but went a step further few months later and you slaughtered in the North -the official figure is 30,000, the real figure is close to 100,000- Igbo civilians who knew nothing about coup plotting, who did not participate in it, who are equally victims and were still mourning that their people were killed.
Those killings took place in few pogroms in a space of two months and again, no war had been declared at that time. But you didn’t stop there. When the Igbos said it’s enough, let’s go back to the East, as they were going back, you were killing them at train stations, firing bows and arrows at them.
And when they got to the East, they now said ‘look, if you want to wipe us all out, it is perfectly natural for us to say we want to leave’ and they now said they want to go. First, you agreed that they will go based on terms agreed to at Aburi, then, you now change your mind that even Aburi, which you have signed and agree on, you are not going to accept.
They must stay by force and the war started. And what did you do during the civil war? You killed three million Igbo civilians. The number of Biafran soldiers that were killed was not more than between 30,000 and 40,000. But you killed three million Biafran civilians. One million of them were starved to death with the policy of starvation that you put in place.
And you justified that policy before the world when you, Nigeria, said starvation is a legitimate weapon of war. Have you ever heard anything as inhuman as that? I know who said that. I don’t want to mention the man’s name.
Another government official, a minister in Gowon’s government, went to America and when Americans were crying that we were committing genocides against the Igbo people, he said ‘no, we are simply defending ourselves, we will starve them to death.’ The people that said these were politicians, civilian leaders, but military commanders executed that policy.
Then, at the end of the war, you said ‘no victor, no vanquished,’ but that was the biggest lie from the pit of hell. You gave them 20 pounds and then, you took all their properties.
It is only in the South-west that their properties were not taken and you turned them into not second, but third class citizens. And today, one of those who participated in that war and all those atrocities is now our President.
Now, we have killed many in the last four years. You killed many IPOB people. And now, they are saying they want to go and you are saying they have no right to go. Is that just or right?
QUESTION: The civil war was followed by a succession of military regimes and in 1999, Nigeria returned to democracy. How well would you say we have done as a democratic nation since 1999?
ANSWER: I don’t think we have a real democracy and I will tell you why. In a real democracy, political parties can be formed based on whatever criteria you choose. Anybody can literally get up and say, this is my party, register it, I’m going to run as an independent, as whatever in my local government area.
But here, INEC, which is essentially a tool for government of the day controls everything in terms of elections. And if you have a man who is the chairman of INEC working against you as the president, which is what happened in 2015. (Attahiru) Jega worked against Jonathan at that time.
I’m accusing him of that right in this interview. And I’m also saying that there was time he was asked to resign and the evidence was clear on why he has to …. but, in my view, very naively, (former President Goodluck) Jonathan decided to keep him there. If you can control the INEC and the chairman of INEC as an opposition party or if you can put your man there to run INEC as this government has done since 2015, then, you know you have no democracy.
Yes, they can let you win some states as they did in 2019, but they can rig you out wherever they like. If you control the courts and you can remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria just like that or you can raid the houses of judges at night with the DSS and you have, more or less, captured the judiciary and intimidated the judges, you don’t have a democracy and neither do you have rule of law.
If you can send DSS officers to the National Assembly to go and raid the place and lock out legislators because you cannot control the place as happened some months ago, then you don’t have a democracy. Today, the APC, by design, controls the National Assembly.
They control it because they control virtually all the elections and so, they returned as many people as possible through INEC – mostly unfairly. They control the elections tribunals, in my view.
They control the courts, in my view, and they control the media, in my view, because this kind of interview, I will be surprised if you publish what I am saying. You may publish it online, but if you publish it in your paper, you may get into trouble.
They control the television. If you go there and you say anything against them that is strong, factual, the NBC will come down on the television station. And you called that democracy? It is tyranny. It’s a dictatorship. And everything that I, FFK, said in 2015 during the course of the election that would happen if Buhari became the President has happened.
And everybody that insulted me then, laughed at me then, and said I was talking rubbish, even from within the PDP itself, are now being prosecuted. All of them are now calling to say I was right.
And everybody that stood with them (APC) then, including Atiku, Obasanjo, Kwankwaso, Tambuwal, Dino Melaye, Saraki has come back now. And now, they are all victims of this monster that they helped to create in 2015.
Now, we fought them in 2015 and we are still fighting them up till today. And until the end of time, we will continue to fight them, not as individuals, because I have nothing against anybody personally. If anything, I have more friends in APC than in PDP.
That’s the truth. But in terms of ideology, politics and what I think is best for my country, I see them as immortal enemies; I see them as nothing but darkness. And I see those that seek to liberate this country from their shackles as the light and the vessels and the tools of God to fight that darkness. That’s my position.
So, if you asked me that do I believe that we have a democracy? My answer is, no. They have corrupted it, they have abused it and I knew this was going to happen. And let me tell you that it is going to get worse.
QUESTION: What has APC done to our democracy since they took power in 2015 that made you to arrive at this conclusion?
Since 2015, what have they done? First, they introduced religion and ethnicity into government. Every security agency in this country – whether the military, the one that have to do with external or internal security – 17 agencies in all – they are all in the hands of Northern Muslims, except for one, which is the Navy.
And that’s unacceptable in a multi-religious, multi-cultural society. A situation where the whole of the judiciary from the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeal, the Federal High Court has just changed now – but the three tiers of the judiciary were being headed by Northern Muslims.
It is just now that we have only one being headed by Northern Christian, that’s the Federal High Court. A situation whereby in the National Assembly, the Senate is headed by a Northern Muslim, House of Representatives headed by a Southern Muslim – Femi Gbajabiamila, he is a good friend of mine, I have known him for over 40 years – but he is a Muslim as well. So, you have Muslims heading both wings of the National Assembly.
And you know what they have done with Femi Gbajabiamila? They have surrounded him with Muslims – his deputy is also a Muslim and the four principal officers around him are also Muslims. So, what is there for us in that place?
In the executive, apart from the security agencies, look at all the key appointments – nine times out of 10, they go Northern Muslims. Go to the Villa today – the official language is Hausa, 90 per cent of the people that are working in the Villa are Northern Muslims.
Look at the appointment of chief executives for the key agencies – they were Northern Muslims, look at the ministerial appointments in terms of substance – the North-west where the President comes from, the Hausa-Fulani catchment area, you have 10 substantive ministries, those are full ministries, not Ministers of state, 10 in the North-west.
Next is the South-west where I come from, we have five substantive Ministers and everywhere else – the South-east, the North-central and North-east have three substantive ministers each.
That means the North-west where Buhari comes from, which is the Fulani heartland has over three times the number of substantive ministers that all the other zones have, except for the South-west. And south-west has only half the number the North-west have. Is that fair? (Nigeria Express)
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Former Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources in Lagos State, Mr. Olawale Oluwo, has stated categorically that government in Lagos State starts and ends in the house of the leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Oluwo, who spoke at Afang Summit, organised by a Lagos-based investment banker, Mr. Joseph Edgar, also gave insight into the power play that denied former Lagos State Akinwumi Ambode his second term bid.
In his words, “Part of the things we were doing before they stopped our government was building terminals and bus depots all over the state. If completed, the project will take out completely those garages that have been there for decades. It’s those garages that are producing touts. There is no need for National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
“The NURTW makes N82 billion every year from Lagos, which is almost 10 per cent of our budget. So, these things would have eliminated the commercial danfo, the molue, tricycle, and okada and the same guys will be the ones running the new transport system. We never used to ride okada. So, why would okada be normal? this is one of the things we were trying to eliminate. The okada and agbero we see today were not in that future.
“I think the Lagos of three to four years may not be the Lagos of the last three to four years. Lagos will change; the change will be tough, rough, and I believe it will be bloody. It will be delusional to think you want to go and do a struggle and you are thinking of coming back. Until you are able to make coming back home a probability, you are not qualified to lead the struggle. You might be qualified to be a supporter or sympathizer of a struggle but you can’t be at the forefront, because nothing good comes easy. Do you think they will leave power and move on?”
On why the powers that-be moved against Ambode, Oluwo said, “Don’t judge a man you don’t know and you have never met before. People manipulate people to destroy people and they succeeded in doing that to Ambode.
“Ambode deliberately decided not to talk. So, it’s not balanced. One side was busy feeding the public with a negative story. I was not only a government official, I was also close to him and I was a member of his kitchen cabinet. I know the time he will talk will come. Ambode has made his own determination not to talk for now.”
On how Ambode became Lagos State governor, Oluwo recounted his meeting with Delta State-born businessman, Mr. Albert Okumagba who “told me that Ambode would be governor of Lagos in 2012 and I laughed. I told him then that even if I don’t know who would be governor of Lagos, I know those who would not be governor, that if they were sharing it for free Ambode was one of those who cannot rule Lagos. And I did not work for Ambode during the primary. I worked for the former Speaker Lagos Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, because he is my maternal cousin and I gave him my commitment in 2007 that I would support him in anything.
“I never knew Ambode until Okumagba introduced me to him in 2011 when I took a proposal to his house, and I think at that period, Asiwaju Tinubu had told Ambode that he would be governor of the state. So, Ambode is not the kind of guy they woke up from sleep to be the state governor. I didn’t believe it when I was told. I didn’t work for him during the primary because I did not believe Tinubu was behind him.”
Oluwo also spoke about the battle Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola fought before securing his second term.
According to him, “I don’t want to believe that Tinubu has the intention of making anybody a governor and then give him a second term. Fashola was not meant to go for the second term. There was a plan to stop Fashola; I was in Ikuforiji’s camp at that time and Asiwaju told him to start preparing. Whatever that meant, I don’t know, and Ikuforiji was the only one that came to contest against Fashola during the primary. So, people say probably it was because of Fashola’s popularity that earned him a second term. The answer is, ‘no!’ It had nothing to do with that. It’s just that that thing (federal might), Asiwaju did not have it in 2011. That was what made him succumb to Fashola going for the second term; he had it (federal might) in 2015. If the party had been in power in 2011, Fashola would never have gone back, because these guys (Fashola and Ambode) are technocrats. They don’t have any party of their own; they don’t have structure. PDP was ready to give Fashola the ticket before Asiwaju ran back.”
Oluwo also spoke on the Afang Summit’s theme, ‘The Economy: What Hope?’, saying, “Anybody can build a structure but a man that has access to state’s money to build a structure is different. If Ambode had known a year earlier that he won’t come back, it would have been a different thing, because they sold a dummy to him and to all of us but I didn’t believe them and I told my people that they were being deceived. Ambode did not fight because of Buhari. One, Ambode didn’t know that Buhari would be aloof and will not get himself involved. Two, he had too much respect for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“They sold Ambode a dummy, that the ticket will be given to him, but they just wanted to shake him and they were sending people to tell him, ‘don’t worry, you are too popular to be stopped.’”
Oluwo also spoke about the relationship between Ambode and Lagosians, noting, “There are things Lagosians didn’t like. Refuse became a disaster; they didn’t like the Land Use Charge, but that doesn’t affect the ticket of a political party. The refuse problem is not as serious as killings under Buhari. As long as you are on the right platform of a political party and they have money they can share, some Nigerians will sell their votes and look the other way and let you write the result. That is the level of our development at this time.
“Yes, mistakes were made on Visionscape, but in every reform, you are displacing vested interests. They would fight back and take you down or destroy the programme. Visionscape has its own problem, but they escalated it. But one thing is sure, Lagos will go back to Vissionscape reform; they may repackage it, do the naming ceremony for it but they will surely go back because that is the only way to manage waste and the transportation programme we put together.”
On what Ambode would have done differently if he had realised early that he would not get the ticket of the party, Oluwo said, “Forget about the party leaders; they don’t count. That thing they call Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) is a toothless bulldog; they don’t have one per cent relevance in the scale of hundred. Ambode was too popular for them. So, what Abode should have done was to have gone to his principal to say, oga, anything you do, we are going into this second term together, give me my second term and I will give you everything you want’. The truth is that Ambode never had any issue with Tinubu; it was people that came in between them.
“Nobody has power in Lagos outside Bourdillon. If Ambode had given the impression that he was ready to fight, they would sit him down. It is about power and resources; power does not belong to these people. The lesson learned is that you can be given something on a platter of gold, but you may not sustain it on a platter of gold.”
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This is, undoubtedly, a difficult time for Afenifere leader, Baba Reuben Fasoranti. He has suffered a grievous loss of his daughter, Funke Olakunrin, in untoward circumstances. The loss of one’s child is a painful and traumatic experience. My prayer for him and his family is to find strength at this trying time.
Now, the death of Mrs Olakunrin is bad enough; the politicisation of the grief is grossly unfair to the family of the deceased. We have always known that some of our leaders have bad manners, but this incident has further exposed them as lacking the ethic of charity. When the news of the death was first announced, the President’s media aide, Femi Adesina, hastily jumped on Twitter to say her killers were “those described as armed robbers by Ondo State Police Command.” Adesina cared little about the deceased; his obsession about roughening up the narrative was to preempt people’s angst that would be directed at his paymasters. If he cared about the poor woman and he respected the Fasoranti family, he would have hesitated and not tried to stuff words in the mouth of the police. The bereaved family not only have to contend with their pain, they also have to deal with the irritation of their daughter’s name being evoked each time we bring up the petty politics of shameless politicians who are using the sad incident to burnish their credentials as bona fide national leaders.
One of these Job’s comforters is the All Progressives Congress leader and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, who answered some journalists’ questions during his visit to the Fasoranti family. First, he downplayed the circumstances of Olakunrin’s death by suggesting that she could have died in a road accident if it was duly fated. This line of reasoning is about one of the most uncharitable things one can say to the hearing of a bereaved family and, frankly, unbecoming of someone who wears the label of an elder. Such misspeaks bolster my conviction that the withdrawal of the permanent pass that some folk have awarded themselves as Yoruba leaders is long overdue for withdrawal. However manner Olakunrin might have died, the fact remains that she was killed and allegedly by herdsmen. To even overlook the circumstances of her death, sidestep the tense reactions by the exasperated populace, and begin to meander logic through bush paths is moral cowardice.
For a while now, Nigeria has been in a difficult situation because of the activities of killer herdsmen. Mind you, these herdsmen have been labelled as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world by the Global Terrorism Index. They have carried out massacres in rural and agrarian communities, and have been emboldened enough by the slackness of state security forces to move into urban settings. Tinubu only needs to go to rural areas in southwestern Nigeria, and his ears will be filled with stories of assault, kidnapping, and vicious murder. People are no longer at ease. They have lost their lives and entire investments in farming to the herdsmen menace. Those that have survived deadly encounters live in fear of the herdsmen. The fact that death is cheap in Nigeria does not mean we should refuse to label an issue for what it is. There is a context to the suspicion that Olakunrin might have been killed by herdsmen; why try to obfuscate matters by pointing out other ways she could have died? Why not just tell the bereaved you are sorry and go home?
The herdsmen nuisance got to the point that Adesina told Benue people to yield their land to their killers or continue to lose their lives. How can anyone look at all of these stories – including the “your land or your life” propositions to the poor hapless and undefended Nigerians – and merely shrug and say death could have come by a road accident anyway? We all know death is inevitable, but nobody throws their life outside the window for the fun of it. Otherwise, why does Tinubu himself travel with an armed escort and in a bulletproof vehicle too? Why can he not test his fate by stripping himself of the paraphernalia of defence and let’s see what happens?
While responding to the press, Tinbu tried to deflect, engaged in a rhetorical strategy called ‘whataboutism’ for no other discernable reason than not wanting to address the hippopotamus on his laps. The question at hand was the issue of insecurity – the kidnappings and killings by herdsmen – but somehow, he managed to drag in another issue entirely when he alluded to the alleged kidnapper, Evans, who was arrested a while ago. What has Evans’ kidnapping career got to do with herdsmen who did not even start their crimes with kidnapping but massacres and displacement of poor villagers whose farms they raided? Why stop at Evans when he could equally have raised other issues such as Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo’s pending lawsuit and even climate change? He even threatened to give us a history of kidnapping to show us that what we are presently dealing with is an imitation of the criminal proclivity of southerners.
All of the above bring me to the point that baffled me most and which summarises all of the rhetorical acrobatics he did at the Fasoranti’s house: the needless defence of the Fulani by Tinubu. By now, everyone would have noticed that the most strident defence of the Fulani over the herdsmen issue has come from southerners, particularly the Yoruba. On the question of whether the Fulani deserve the stereotype of cold-blooded killers or not, the Yoruba people have wept louder than the bereaved. The Fulani themselves are an ethnic group with enough power to take over the media in their own defence, but they do not do so. Today, the Fulani are resented, and not just because of the herdsmen issue but also because of the clannishness and tribalism of President Muhammadu Buhari who has more or less driven collective benefits in the direction of a selected class. Why have they not refuted the narrative about them, considering that they have the necessary clout to challenge the demonising of their ethnic identity? They can use the airwaves and other media forms to vehemently denounce the herdsmen who attack undefended populations. They can rebuke Miyetti Allah group over their inflammatory statements, and also condemn the actions of reprobate groups such as the Coalition of Northern Groups who gave governors a 30-day ultimatum to enforce RUGA and students of Usman Dan Fodio University who insisted that RUGA must be established in all the 36 states of Nigeria.
They are so many crisis-management strategies the Fulani ethnic group can deploy to manage their image being battered all over Nigeria because of the spate of herdsmen attacks. If the Fulani themselves are not engaged in activities to refurbish their image, it is because they are too self-secure in their political power and privileges to be bothered about the long-term implications of ethnic stigmatisation. They probably also do not concern themselves so much with pushing back against stereotypes because their lackeys in the South run those errands on their behalf.
Tinubu, in rounding off the interview, made a rather curious statement cum question, “I don’t want to be political, but I will ask, where are the cows?” If by that he means that the crime of murder could not have been committed by herdsmen because there were no cows at the crime scene, it means he has reached the end of reasoning. I do not want to be political either, but the question of where the cows have already been answered by none other than Tinubu himself. The cows are everywhere. If some people look into their mirror, they will find those cows staring back at them in all their bovine glory.
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FormerDeputy National Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olabode George has insisted that the National Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu lobbied to be appointed Deputy Administrator or a Commissioner in Lagos State when late General Sani Abacha sacked the Interim National Government, ING, headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan in 1993.
George who was reacting to denials by some associates of Tinubu that the APC stalwart never romanced nor lobbied the late dictator for appointments as claimed by Mr Kola Abiola, son of the late M.K.O Abiola in a recent interview, insisted that Kola Abiola’s claims against Tinubu were true. “Tinubu can never deny it. He lobbied Abacha for appointment and I was a witness to it. Those defending Tinubu are his apologists who are not familiar with the story of June 12. I challenge Tinubu to an open public debate on any popular TV station in Nigeria and across the world on this,” he declared. In this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, George also spoke on other national issues.
What is your reaction to the nationwide controversy trailing Federal Government’s decision to set up Ruga settlements for Fulani herdsmen in states across the country?
The Federal Government should tread softly. It should be very careful about the whole thing. This is not the first time that Fulani herdsmen or the Fulani cattle rearers have been traversing the length and breadth of this country, and we’ve never heard of anything of such before. No past government in the country has ever contemplated anything of such – so why would federal government now come up with this idea capable of precipitating crisis?
Already the uproar that is being generated by this Ruga policy conceived by the present federal government is enough to tell any leader that there is need for caution. We should tread carefully. Why is this idea of Ruga settlements now being conceived? Is it because we now have a Fulani man as President that this Ruga tendency is now manifesting in Nigeria?
Let’s cast our mind back to the past, when we had an Ijaw man as Nigeria’s president, did he go round or make an announcement that they should set up fish ponds all over Nigeria? When Baba Obasanjo was Nigeria’s president, did he make it an official policy that they should plant cocoa in all hamlets all over Nigeria?
Developmental purposes should be seen as negotiation between parties. This Ruga project should not have any coloration of the federal government being involved. The impression that the Ruga project gives is that federal government wants to create a colonization army.
I want to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari that the federal government should tread softly. President Buhari was my commander-in-chief in the military, and I served as a staff officer to him, so I’m therefore appealing to him as my Oga that he should tread softly.
If this Ruga project is something that will boost the economy and will benefit Nigerians, all these opposition against it would not have arisen. Naturally Nigerians would have gravitated towards it, and embrace it. Every state governor is the chief security officer of that state; power and control over the land within the state rest squarely with the governor. So federal government doesn’t have the constitutional power to impose the Ruga project over any state.
In the first place, the federal government has no business getting involved in the Ruga project, it should be a private initiative between parties who will discuss and come to terms of agreements among themselves. It is very wrong now that Nigeria is on the cliff. I want to see Nigeria as an indivisible entity where all the tribes would first and foremost see themselves as Nigerians. I also expect this nationalism to drive us to greater heights. What I see today all over Nigeria frightens me, and I cry for my beloved country, Nigeria.
What I’m saying here has nothing to do with politics. I’m speaking as a patriot who loves my country. This Ruga project by the federal government, which they are desperately promoting, can it be sustained? Is it in the common interest of all Nigerians? And if there is cacophony of voices opposing it, should federal government not listen? I believe federal government should listen to those voices of reason opposing the Ruga project.
What is your reaction to the present state of insecurity, and the way out?
The situation is not only unfortunate, but it has also become alarming. But for me I believe that creation or setting up of state police is part of the way out. We should establish state police to have effective control over issues relating to insecurity. The Nigeria Police as it presently stands is overwhelmed. The number of officers and men in Nigeria police is grossly inadequate to effectively police over 200 million Nigerians.
Although some are talking about state police being abused, but there is no system that is perfect. Then we should even start it first. We should not expect that if we start state police today, then we will have perfection immediately. It will take time before we attain perfection.
In the United States of America which is our role model, they have what we call county police or what we call local government police. They also have state police – then they also have the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The other day, the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu was lamenting that he has only 334,000 men and officers in the Nigeria police, and Nigeria’s population has been put at 200 million people. Then how can 334,000 police force man the internal security of this country? Even if you add the personnel of the Civil Defence Corps men, LASTMA and whatever you call them and join them with the Police, it still amounts to nothing.
How can it be that the Inspector-General of Police is based in Abuja and he control all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, then how can he be effective? We are not serious.
All these things happening are issues that require urgency to tackle because we are talking about the internal security of the country. Then when people like us are talking, we are not talking politics, we are talking about national interest. So whatever I’m saying should not be misconstrued. I’m talking as a patriot who loves his nation and dear country.
Sadly on this issue of insecurity, we are losing the battle. Something has to be done very fast to bring the situation under control because Nigerians are no longer secure. We should be able to tell ourselves the home truth. Nobody prays that Nigeria should be turned into Somalia where banditry, kidnappings and other forms of crimes are prevalent but sadly we are now travelling on that road to Somalia. Our prayer is that this should not be so, but those in authority have to do all the needful now.
How would you describe the approaches being adopted by the federal government to tackle the menace of insecurity so far?
The federal government has to buckle up. The security situation across the country is pathetic and alarming. But unfortunately look at the way federal government is taking the issue as if it is not a serious matter. Look at the way the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was trying to downplay the seriousness of the issue when he recently travelled to the United States of America where he met the US Vice President, Mike Pence.
Haba! Prof. Osinbajo, how can you be lying or not saying the truth about the situation of things in your country? Unfortunately for Osinbajo, the world is now a global village. Although Osinbajo tried to hide the truth about Nigeria from Pence, but those people in America and other countries of the world know that bandits, kidnappers and abductors are having a field day in Nigeria, and this is why some of those countries including the United States issued warning alerts to their citizens coming to Nigeria and those resident in Nigeria. My advice to Osinbajo is that he should be careful. The job he is holding on to will end one day, and there will be a day after his job, and when that period comes what will he tell Nigerians? Will he be able to look Nigerians in the face?
What is happening in Nigeria today is not a joking matter. People now live in fear in Nigeria. People go around in Nigeria. The first job of any government is to provide security for lives and properties but on these the present federal government has not lived up to expectations. Security first, then others follow. All over Nigeria, people are crying.
My advice as a Nigerian to President Buhari is that the federal government should organize a national discourse on insecurity. We should have a national discourse on the issue with a view of proffering solution. Democracy is government of the people by the people and for the people. We are not in a military era, this is a civilian government so President Buhari must let Nigerians make an input into how the scourge of insecurity can be tackled. This has nothing to do with politics. It is in our diversities that our strength lies.
On the raging internal crisis rocking Yoruba Council of Elders, some eminent Yoruba have expressed concern about it, what’s your own reaction to the crisis?
I’m very disturbed. I’m not happy at all about what is happening in YCE. What those elders are doing amounts to washing their dirty linens in the public. I’m going to beg all the parties involved. I will appeal to both the Secretary-General, Kunle Olajide, and the YCE President, Colonel Ade Agbede to sheath their swords. I will speak to both of them personally.
YCE has always been one united family, and that’s the way it should remain. The founding fathers of YCE like late Justice Adewale Thompson and Baba Archdeacon Alayande would not be happy in their graves with the present unfortunate development in YCE.
Disagreement is part of life, but then you only disagree to agree. The moment members of the same family go to the market place to expose one another, then that means the situation is degenerating out of control. It is even a taboo in Yoruba land for elders to fight in the public. These elders should cool down. As the Atona Oodua of the Source, I’m speaking to all parties to give peace a chance. They should be able to resolve their crisis within the YCE fold.
It is just like what is happening in Afenifere. Imagine, the emperor of Bourdillon, Bola Tinubu is leading a faction. This is perfidious and treacherous. How can Tinubu lead Afenifere, and imagine also taking the same group to Aso Rock to meet President Buhari. A divided house is a defeated house. What does some of these Yoruba want history to remember them for? When I saw those that headed to Abuja parading themselves as Afenifere leaders, I shuddered.
On this issue of claims by Kola Abiola that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu lobbied to be made an Administrator, or a Commissioner when General Sani Abacha sacked the ING led by Chief Ernest Shonekan, you came on it to say that Kola’s claims were right, but some supporters of Tinubu have claimed that you said so because you are not on the same political page with Tinubu, how do you respond to that?
I have nothing personal against Tinubu. I don’t hate him. We may not be in the same political party and there is no big deal about that. Nigeria’s constitution guarantees freedom of association. On this issue of Kola’s claims, I’m saying nothing but the truth. Kola Abiola was right. Tinubu begged Abacha to make him an administrator or a state commissioner. I was in the military that time, and I was in Aso Rock with Gen. Abacha and Gen. Oladipo Diya who was then Chief of General Staff to Abacha. I was the Principal Staff Officer I to Gen. Diya. I was then a Commodore in the Nigerian Navy. The equivalent of that rank in the Army is a Brigadier-General.
Unfortunately, many Nigerians don’t know this. Most Nigerians only know Bode George as a politician. Back to what transpired then between Abacha and Tinubu.
Tinubu came to Aso Rock to lobby for these positions but already the military had taken decisions that Abacha’s regime was going to be purely a military regime unlike that of Babangida who appointed civilians as deputy governors to military governors then.
On the day, the Abacha’s government took that decision, it was taken in Lagos at Air Force Mess at Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island. Military officers present were from the rank of Lt.-Colonel and above. When the question was put to the military gathering as to whether civilians should be accommodated or given some roles in the new military government, all the officers present in unison and overwhelmingly rejected the idea. I was part of the military gathering that day.
Tinubu actually came to lobby to be made a commissioner but when he was told about the military decision, he became sad. He wasn’t happy and that was when he went to join NADECO and other pro-democracy activists. If Abacha had given him the positions he lobbied for, Tinubu would have been part of Abacha’s government.
Unfortunately some of these people defending Tinubu and now attacking both myself and Kola Abiola don’t know all these that I’m revealing. I’m saying it again categorically that it was when Tinubu didn’t get appointment from the Abacha’s government that he, out of frustration and anger went to join NADECO.
I challenge Tinubu to a public debate on this. I challenge Tinubu to a public debate on any national television station either here in Nigeria or abroad. I’m even ready to face him on CNN or BBC on this issue. I’m calling out Tinubu, he should take up my challenge. Even if he said we should go to a graveyard to face one another on this issue, I’m ready to face him. For those defending Tinubu, have they seen Tinubu coming out to speak personally or issue a personal statement on Kola Abiola’s claims and my support for Kola Abiola? I’m talking about people like former Lagos State APC chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale, former NUPENG President, Joseph Akinlaja and others who have become Tinubu’s defenders on this issue. If these people don’t know about what transpired during the June 12 crisis, they should keep quiet instead of defending what is not defensible, I say once again, Tinubu should come and face me in a public debate on this issue if he believes I’m not saying the truth. General Diya, and Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola who later became Lagos State Military Governor were some of the witnesses to what I’m saying. If Abacha had agreed with Tinubu, Tinubu would have become Deputy Governor to Oyinlola. Both Oyinlola and Tinubu are brothers. They are both from Osun State. Tinubu is from Iragbiji while Oyinlola is from Okuku. Nigerians should ask Oyinlola if I’m lying. Facts are facts, Tinubu can’t deny that he lobbied Abacha to be made a commissioner or deputy governor to Oyinlola. I’m putting all these together in my memoirs, which will be out very soon.
How would you describe the defection of former Minister of Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, your former ally in PDP to APC?
Like I said in an earlier interview, Ogunlewe has gone back to where he comes from. He has gone back to his vomit. Nobody is missing him in PDP. I don’t want to waste my saliva talking about him. His defection is like a good riddance to bad rubbish. Talking about him or his defection to APC is a waste of time.
Chief Henry Ajomale in an interview said that with Senator Ogunlewe’s defection, you are the next big fish from PDP that will defect to APC. What is your reaction to that?
Ajomale is daydreaming. I can’t and will never join APC. APC is not a political party. It is a congregation of strange bedfellows. I’m not a political prostitute that jumps from party to another. Since 1999, I have been in PDP and up till now, I’m still in PDP. I can never leave PDP. If Ajomale is waiting for me to join APC, he is not only wasting his time, but he will wait till only God knows when.
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Shortly after news broke that men of the Nigerian Police Force have sealed the Corporate headquarters of Oando Plc on Ozumba Mbadiwe street in Victoria Island, ex presidential aide, Reno Omokri took to Twitter to react.
According to the reports, the police sealed off the building following the directives of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the constitution of an Interim Management Team, headed by Mr. Mutiu Olaniyi Adio Sunmonu
Omokri said Bola Tinubu, a National Leader of the All Progressives Congress(APC) was going through this because he had insulted former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
He urged the former Lagos state governor to go and apologise to the ex-president — As that marked the beginning of his crisis.
What he wrote via Twitter thus:
When you opened that your smelly yellow teeth mouth to openly insult Olusegun Obasanjo, a man old enough to be your father, a man who fought for Nigeria in war and led her in peace, I told you God will reward you. Tinubu, go and apologise to Obasanjo.
See how they are disgracing him anyhow with Oando. When you sold your people so cheaply, how will they respect you? In their eyes, a used sanitary pad has more value than you. When will you learn? Jagaban? By the time they finish with you, you will turn to jagajaga!
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Some Northern elements are planning to pull the rug off the feet of Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila in his speakership bid, when it will be impossible to save his candidacy, Sunday Tribune has reliably learnt. A source close to Aso Rock Presidential Villa disclosed that the plot might not be unconnected with a political storm gathering against the national leader of the ruling party and Gbajabiamila’s main sponsor, Senator Bola Tinubu.
The source said the parliamentary leadership politics appeared to have become so overwhelming for the Lagos strongman that he wasn’t even showing expected interest in the much-discussed ministerial politics regarding the South-West.
Gbajabiamila, the current House Leader, is the front-runner for the speakership seat, but the combination of zoning and godfather apron attachment is reportedly threatening his chances in the North, where two governors on the platform of the ruling party are said to be coordinating the last-minute surprise package, to again, thwart Femi’s ambition.
Both governors are very close to President Muhammadu Buhari, whose support for Gbajabiamila, is perceived by the other camp as being passive.
While one of the governors is allegedly using subterfuge to relate with the Tinubu camp, the other doesn’t plainly care.
They are carrying a candidate who they plan to carry through the contest. Expectedly, their candidate isn’t from the South.
An ally of one of the governors told Sunday Tribune that “the battle is just beginning. You will see what they (Tinubu’s camp) will see in days ahead. We know Femi (Gbajabiamila) is just another instrument in his (Tinubu) hands.
“But we will ensure that he (Tinubu) loses all steam even before 2023. They (Tinubu’s camp) have no strategists. They don’t always know the battle to fight. You will see the real battle soon.”
The Villa-connected source had earlier revealed that Lagos technically producing Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and trying to grab the speaker seat would not sail through both at home and elsewhere.
“Are we the only one in the South-West trying to corner everything. VP is from you, your wife is bidding for something in the Senate. Your boy wants to be Speaker. Is it only Lagos that is doing APC and is it only oga that is playing politics,” the source sarcastically queried.
Another source introduced a different dimension into the alleged one-man power-grabbing agenda when he went rhetorically: “How much did he (Tinubu) even contribute to the election?
“There was even no account rendered for the money we contributed. The time is almost here for the whole truth to be told the world. What was their (Tinubu’s camp) contribution that they want to corner everything?”
It was learnt that Gbajabiamila is attracting more enemies because his aspiration is being seen as just a stepping stone for his godfather to build a nationwide network for his rumoured presidential ambition in 2023, when political power is expected to return to the Southern part of the country.
Though Tinubu is yet to declare such an ambition, his close allies have confirmed they talked him into giving the presidency a shot when Buhari’s constitutionally allowed two terms are done.
Tinubu is allegedly supporting Gbajabiamila and by extension, Ahmed Lawan for Senate presidency seat to deploy supporters of the duo in the National Assembly as coordinators for his presidential project, in their constituency and senatorial domains.
Those from the lower chamber, allegedly to be known as constituency coordinators, are said to be of greater factor to the success of the project, hence the utmost importance of ramming Gbajabiamila into the speakership seat.
Meanwhile, more facts are emerging on why loyalists of Tinubu and his erstwhile honcho, former National Legal adviser of APC, Muiz Banire are side-stepping the armistice entered into, in the course of the last general election to resume hostilities.
Following the perceived attack on Tinubu by the Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai recently in Lagos, Sunday Tribune learnt that Tinubu’s camp has since been unloading on Banire over his perceived support for the rumoured presidential project of the governor.
A source close to Banire, however, dispelled such a notion, saying that those who want to make more enemies for Tinubu are behind the conjecture, adding that “they (Tinubu’s camp) are now saying Muiz (Banire) is coordinating for el-Rufai in the South-West.
“You can see the way these our people think. Instead of seeking one house ahead of their oga’s 2023 campaign, they are busy scattering everywhere. The Arisekola fellow writing against Muiz is not even a factor. They were the ones who sought cooperation before the election, see what they are doing now.”
Banire, in a post on Thursday, promised to come after his traducers soon, threatening an exposé, complete with documents on hitherto yet-to-be-made-public secrets.
Quoting him, “For now, my admonition to them if they love their sponsor, is to note that he who lives in glass house must not throw stone. Our maturity seems to be challenged these days and hopefully we won’t lose it. In my subsequent interviews, I shall address all their lies appropriately. For now, let me remind the latter-day workers of The Nation and TVC that some of us are custodians of the origin of these establishments and at the right time, they will learn more with documentation”.
Aside Banire, another personality being reportedly caught in the 2023 presidential drama, is the embattled chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services, Babatunde Fowler.
His current travails at the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged official corruption are being linked to his perceived sway in lending support to a particular camp.
Fowler, seen by many as a nominee of Tinubu, is actually a long-standing friend of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who was said to be instrumental in his emergence as the chairman of Lagos Inland Revenue Service (LIRS), the job he was holding before his “promotion” to Abuja.
A deep source in Lagos APC politics disclosed that Fowler was “helpful” in the 2019 election and the fears that his support in 2023 may be crucial in favour of a perceived presidential aspirant, reportedly ramped up the move against him.
The public official who is being tipped to enjoy crucial help from Fowler, if the latter retained his money-spinning job till 2023, is yet to make any move to show he is interested in succeeding Buhari.
But there is a widespread notion that Buhari may prefer him to others, if the North is conceding to the Southern part of the country in the next four years.
While the intendment is said not to oust Fowler using the current EFCC probe, Sunday Tribune learnt those behind his travails would shake him so much, to show where the real power lies in the current political equation.
A party chieftain who works closely with the public official being rumoured of having Buhari’s back for the top-job in 2023, told Sunday Tribune that when enquiries were made at the appropriate quarters on Fowler’s case, a top-dog of the intel community, told them that it was an inside job and both sides in the Fowler saga, should please not drag him, into it.
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• Ohanaeze, Fulani elders, others fault Miyetti Allah’s position
Magnus Eze,Enugu, Ndubuisi Orji,Abuja
National president of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Bello Bodejo, has come under attacks over comment that the north will retain the presidency beyond 2023.
Bodejo who spoke at the weekendcategorically told southerners, particularly the South East and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, believed to be jostling to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari to forget it.
However, the Concerned Fulani Leaders Forum disowned Bodejo who they claimed lacked the mandate and moral standing to speak for the Fulani.
In a statement, yesterday, signed by Muhammad Musa Bawa (Manman) in Sabin Garin Nabordo, Bauchi State, the Forum slammed Bodejo for attempting to arrogate to himself the power of Nigerians to determine who leads them.
“Bello Bodejo’s statement is unfortunate and repulsive in all ramifications. For one, he lacks the mandate and credibility to speak on behalf of the Fulani.
“On the issue of 2019 he raised, no one can arrogate to himself the power to decide who should lead or aspire to lead the country. The generality of the Nigerian people will take that crucial decision. Only a charlatan like Bello Bodejo, masquerading as a leader would make such sweeping statements credited to him. The way and manner he spoke suggest he is out to play God, which speak to the creeping-in of early signs of schizophrenia expressed in infantile behaviours.”
Similarly, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo said Bodejo neither spoke for the north nor for the millions of progressive people scattered in the middle-belt.
Deputy National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Chief Chuks Ibegbu warned those who believe Nigeria belonged to them to desist from self-delusion, emphasising that the Nigeria of today was not the Nigeria of old.
Even though the Ohanaeze believes that restructuring was the solution to the nation’s problems, Ibegbu stated that it is the turn of the Igbo to produce Nigeria’s next president.
“He’s speaking for himself and not for the north; he’s not God that’ll decide the future; 2023 is still far off, so, why’s he talking about 2023 when we’re in 2019. Besides, those of them that are under the illusion that this country belongs to them are making a very great mistake. The country belongs to everybody and everybody has the right to aspire for any post. Now, the north has had their fair share of the political power; the Southwest and South-south have had their own share. It’s only the Southeast, the Igbo, that haven’t produced executive president, but that’s not the issue.
“Ordinarily, competence, merit should prevail over where somebody comes from. We’ve been having turn-by-turn presidency since the second republic. So, it’s not when it’s our turn that somebody will begin to talk rubbish, inconsequential things. Even though we want peace and unity of this country, peace and unity is predicated on justice and fair play, political, economic, social justice. Nobody should arrogate to himself that authority or power to say how the nation’s political permutation should go. Now, all other zones have had their first share except the Southeast. So, it’s very germane that the Southeast should have the next president.”
Also, a professor of Political Science and former Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Elochukwu Amaucheazi described the comment as diversionary.
The main issue at the moment, he said, is the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, challenging President Buhari’s victory.
“All these things, whether 2023 or Atiku’s nationality, are to divert attention.”
Also reacting, Publicity Secretary of the Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, lamented that the country has deteriorated to the lowest ebb that cattle breeders now determine her political future.
He told Daily Sun that the comment was a confirmation that the country is sinking and gradually dying a natural death.
“We have seen what we have brought to ourselves; and it is only God that can take us out of this low situation. The implication is that Nigeria is sinking and dying. You know that when a country is dying, it does not die like a human being. It dies gradually. Those ominous signs to indicate that Nigeria is dying gradually are things like this. Only God can safe this country from sinking deeper into the pit. It is really a shame,” he said.
Asked if Nigerians should treat it with levity, he replied: “If you think that cattle rearers should just talk on such sensitive issue without backing, you must be deceiving yourself. The Yoruba says that when you see a butterfly dancing on top of water, there must be a drummer under the river.”
Former minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Dubem Onyia said the only way to safeguard the country is to allow the presidency to return to the south in 2023.
“If they want this country to disintegrate,then let them make good their statement. The unity of this country is pivoted on rotation ofpower. The federation is not by force. You can conveniently get seven countries out of Nigeria. If they want Oduduwa Republic to go; Biafra to go;Niger Delta to go; Middle Belt to go; let them make good their statement. Nobody is going to be forced to stay under anybody’s rulership. Power must rotate.In2023, if they think the country will remain under bondage, let’s see how it goes,” Onyia, who is also a leader of the PDP, said. (Th Sun)
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Agroup under the auspices of Arewa Youth Awareness Forum (AYAF) has on Saturday kicked against the decision of the All Progressives Congress to adopt the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, for the 9th National Assembly speakership.
In a statement signed by the group’s Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Secretary-General – Mohammed Sani-Kabir, Salisu Abdurrahaman and Ben Alege, also said the endorsement was against the collective interest of the north ahead of 2023 presidency.
Recall that, the APC had on Tuesday adopted Gbajabiamila when President Muhammadu Buhari hosted members-elect to a dinner at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The northern group supported House of Representative members-elect that were opposed to party’s candidate, saying that Gbajabiamila was not the best option for northern interest.
The statement accused the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and its National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole of scheming for the 2023 presidency.
They said they were alarmed by the dictatorial and insensitive manners in which the party foisted the leadership on the two Chambers of the National Assembly.
The group urged the party leadership to allow members-elect to freely choose their principal leaders for the 9th National Assembly.
According to the group, the plot is railroading the National Assembly towards having a leadership that will benefit the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and the National Leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu for the 2023 Presidency.
The group said:”We are alarmed by the dictatorial and insensitive plot by the APC leadership for foisting leadership on the two chambers of the National Assembly.
“We are also concern by the fact that northern interests are being compromised with great implication for the future of the region.
“We also note with grave concern, the undemocratic posture of some party leadership which is already structuring a game plan for the APC’s 2023 presidential primaries and we note with delight the quiet but firm resistance of APC members who will not concede to being used for such game plans under the façade of party interests.
“We also urged lawmakers of northern extractions to resist any attempt by the party leadership to use them against the overall interest of the north.
They also warned that party leadership against disregarding the Nigeria’s Constitution by forcing particular members on the National Assembly, calling on the party to allow members to choose their leaders rather than “Tinubu and Oshiomohle forcing Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila on the National Assembly.”
“It is risky for President Buhari, the North and the entire federation for one man to be in control of the Vice President, ruling party chairman, Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives,” the group added.
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Outspoken Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi Okurounmu has accused INEC of working against southern interests in the recent presidential election. He also accused APC leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of using his personal interest to endanger the lives of other Yoruba people across the country. He spoke on these and other national issues in this interview conducted by TUNDE THOMAS.
What is your reaction to the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari over Alhaji Atiku Abubaka in the presidential election?
Buhari’s so-called victory was made possible through the collusion of INEC officials and the security agents that were deployed for the polls. The presidential and national assembly elections were marred with a lot of irregularities. To make matters worse, INEC officials and security agents openly worked for Buhari and APC, instead of being neutral. They openly supported Buhari and APC. It was glaring that INEC was acting out a script and that script was to dance to the tune of Buhari and APC. The election was far from being free and fair.
Again look at the number of deaths, the number of Nigerians who were sent to their untimely graves just because a clique wants to remain in power at all cost. Buhari has nothing to rejoice about. That election was a setback for our democracy. The president and his party members didn’t allow the will of Nigerians to prevail. Thank God Atiku has gone to court to challenge the outcome of the charade called election.
Are you saying that INEC compromised?
Obviously. INEC didn’t live up to expectation. It was glaring that INEC compromised and that’s why I described INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, a big failure. In several parts of Nigeria, especially in the South, millions of voters were disenfranchised especially in areas perceived to be strongholds of opposition parties. To show you how biased INEC was, while INEC insisted on the use of card readers in the South, same rule was not applied in the North and all manners of people were allowed to vote. At the end of the exercise INEC was declaring millions of votes in the North while working against the interests of the South. The situation portrayed INEC as having a hidden agenda. This is why Afenifere spoke out against some of these evils that took place during the presidential and national assembly elections. Imagine how APC supporters and thugs unleashed violence on voters in Oshodi, Okota, Isolo and some areas where they felt the party was not popular among residents. We are against the attacks on Igbo and other non-Igbo who were victims of APC supporters and thugs attack. We are all Nigerians and nobody has any right to impose his own will on others. You can’t force me to belong to your own political party or force your ideology down my throat. It is a free world and there should be freedom of choice.
As Lagosiansfile out on Saturday to cast their votes to pick the next governor ofthe state, what is your advice to the parties, the electorate, INEC, and security agents?
Lagosians don’t have problem with one another. Lagos has always been a melting pot for all Nigerians, and people have been living together in unity, and harmony. We are shocked by the action of APC supporters and thugsduring the national assembly and presidential elections. There should not be a repeat of that show of shame during the gubernatorial elections. I advise security agents to be alive to their responsibilities. How can thugs, hoodlums and street urchins be attacking people and security agents would be found wanting?
I’m also shocked that when those thugs attacked people penultimate week neither APC national leader, Bola Tinubu and Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu deemed it fit to speak out against the evil. Even up till now neither of them has condemned those behind the attacks. Even the governor of Lagos state, Akinwumi Ambodefailed to speak out and this was why Afenifere spoke out in order to douse tension. Afenifere spoke out to reassure non-Yoruba living in Lagos that the attack on them wasnot by Yoruba but by some thugs who wereworking for some political overlords. Yoruba are peace loving, and we will continue to promote and exhibit virtues that will continue to strengthen the bond of unity among Nigerians. Although we were initially shocked that Governor Ambode didn’t speak out but we later understood his own predicament. Ambode is also being persecuted by Tinubu and other APC leaders. But these people should stop playing God. They should notendanger Yoruba interests because of their own selfish interests. Voters in Lagos should not be intimidated. They should be allowed to exercise their fundamental rights in an atmosphere devoid of harassment and intimidation.
Now that Buhari has won the election, what advice do you have for him?
Buhari has gone beyond advice. Buhari already has a mindset and that’s why advising him is a waste of time. Buhari is opposed to restructuring of Nigeria. He wants the status quo to remain. But the fact still remains, whether Buhari wants to believe it or not there is no alternative to restructuring. Afenifere leaders’ opposition to Buhari is not borne out ofhatred butout of our desire to have a country where there is justice and equity.
Look at the herdsmen menace, Buhari has failed to curb it simply because the herdsmen are his kith and kin. Butthe nefarious activities of herdsmen have been leading to loss of lives on daily basis across the country. But for how long will they continue to go on rampage before Buhari will deem it fit to find a solution to their menace?
Some Nigerians who have expressed joy over Buhari’s victory have declared that his re-election will enable him tosustain the war against corruption and carry out other reforms that will transform Nigeria, what’s your take on that?
Which war is Buhari fighting against corruption? Is Buhari truly fighting corruption, when his right hand man, and APC National Leader Bola Tinubu put bullion vans containing money in his compound ,and EFCC is looking the other way? To rub salt upon injury, when he was confronted about the propriety of what he did, instead of being sober Tinubu said he has the right to keep his money anywhere including his house, andsome people say Buhari is fighting corruption. Rememberalso what APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole said publicly that any looter that joins APC will be forgiven his sins, and you say Buhari is fighting corruption. Buhari’s war against corruption is a mockery. It is not only one-sided but also selective. (The Sun)
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