As Nigerians go to the polls next Saturday, Elder statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has expressed fears. According to him, the signs are not good for a peaceful election. In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the leader of Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, said that President Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is not going to be re-elected at the February 16 presidential election.
Barely one week to the election, what are your expectations?
Well, the signs are not too good for a peaceful election and it is sad. It is unfortunate. All that is happening now is strange. So many things that the government is doing, nobody expects it under a normal time, not to talk of when elections are approaching, but we will continue to pray.
What are the signs?
We are no more babies in this country, when you have a situation where you are not in agreement with the Judiciary. You are now looking for shortcuts. My dear, it is so complicated. Imagine the man who wrote a petition against the CJN is working under the president, and within three days, the petition has been signed, investigated and they have decided to go to court. One smells rat there. He is just out to cause confusion everywhere in the country.
Under this situation, do you entertain any fear?
Of course, I entertain a lot of fears. Buhari knows that he can’t win this election, and he knew that he has to go to court and so he wants to intimidate the judges and justices; that is why he is attacking the Judiciary.
The security forces invaded the National Assembly, and he said he didn’t know about it, a president of a county? Based on all that he has done, it is only in this country that he could still be in office. In other countries, he should have been impeached or should have been forced to resign. The Town Hall debate with his deputy on NTA has shown that he is no more there; he is not on ground.
Who do you think that Nigerians will choose between Buhari and Atiku?
The different is clear. How will they chose a president who can’t face the nation and tell them what he wants to do for them. A president who can’t campaign for himself because he is not on ground? The lady that was anchoring the Town Hall television programme told the vice president to stop answering for the man and allow the president to answer for himself. That is the type of leader we have in this 21st century, God bless us.
Why do we have different Afenifere groups, one endorsing Buhari and the other you lead adopting Atiku?
It is not Afenifere that endorsed Buhari. The Yoruba people in APC gathered themselves in Osogbo and endorsed Buhari. These people who came out and claimed the name of the group are not Afenifere. Apart from this election, have you heard about them? When did they come out of their cocoon? Have they ever issued statements over the crises that have been happening in this country? Have you ever heard of any Afenifere meeting in Osogbo?
Don’t you know that Afenifere belongs to Awolowo? I don’t have to tell you about Awolowo’s supporters. The man leading this fake Afenifere knows he is claiming what he is not. When he and myself meet Awolowo very soon, he will be able to tell Awolowo that he was just confusing the Yoruba people because of his own personal interest. They just want to confuse Yoruba people. Who does not know our own Afenifere? That one is a fake organisation. What are they doing, when did they come into existence. When did you hear Afenifere meet in Osogbo? We meet in the house of the leader. What is their antecedent? Please, let’s focus on something serious and leave those people.
Everybody knows that Awolowo is the father of federalism in this country, that fake Afenifere do they believe in federalism? They should come and say that they believe in federalism and see if Buhari will not knock their heads. If you are Afenifere, are you for restructuring that will lead to federalism because that is what Awolowo is known for. If they believe that, let them come out and say so. Because of the material gain, they betrayed the Yoruba people.
Your group and other southern groups adopted Atiku because of his position to restructure the country, if Buhari toes the same line, would you turn to support him?
How can I believe him? All these things are question of antecedents.
Do you know that Afenifere supported Buhari in 2007, when Bakare was his running mate? The condition that led to it, which I have said it and Bakare has also said it was that he was going to do restructuring, and during his campaigns, he never said anything like that. Even this alliance he formed with Tinubu, restructuring was in their manifesto, and when he got there what did he do? That is the same man you want me to trust?
Go and check the statements of the vice president on restructuring, he has been speaking from different sides of his mouth. Today, he would say he believes in restructuring, and tomorrow, he says it is only devolution of powers and no to state police. What do you call restructuring? They don’t want it and they don’t know where they are going all because Buhari doesn’t want restructuring.
They want to chain the Yoruba people by deceiving them. The latest one is that they are promising them presidency in 2023. What a deceit is that? How can any group or political party, who loves this country for unity, say that the Yoruba people will have another turn at the presidency without giving the Southeast people a chance? The Southwest has had, the North has also had, the South-South has also had, and you want the Yoruba to go again without the South East having theirs and you want peace in Nigeria, it is just a deceit.
Look at the inconsistency in APC, they will tell the Yoruba to vote for Buhari so that they can produce the presidency in 2023, and they turn and tell the Igbo the same, who is deceiving who? During the Akande’s birthday in Osogbo, the vice president was talking about restructuring, and I don’t know if he was talking to babies. These people are not serious. It is unfortunate that people who are knowledgeable and intelligent say all sorts of things in order to keep their office.
Do you see INEC conducting credible election?
Even if they want to conduct a credible election, the government will hijack it and will not allow them. For instance, this appointment of Aisha Zakari, a niece to President Buhari, as the officer to supervise the collation of result; an announcement that everybody has been kicking against, what is special about her? When parties concerned are shouting and why are you insisting that she must be there if they have no hidden agenda?
What is the special qualification she has got that you can’t get in other persons? This is a body that is supposed to be independent. First of all, the president denied that they were related and he later came out to say that they were only related by marriage. Who is he fooling? People are saying they don’t want her, if there is no hidden agenda; remove her and put another person there.
He thinks that the country belongs to him and Katsina people and the North. Look at the security architecture of the country; if the person is not from Katsina, he is from the North and must be a Muslim.
We have about 22 of them, and about 20 are from your village in a multi-ethnic county like Nigeria, and you are opening your mouth wide to ask for their votes, and yet you don’t trust others except people from Katsina. You want to rule those people that you don’t trust. You are doing the same thing in the wrong way and you want to get different result.
You are ruling the country, yet you don’t trust others and you want those you don’t trust to give you power. He is doing the same thing and expects different result.
The country is so much divided today because of the actions of Buhari; there are crises everywhere. We are saying, this is the constitution agreed by all the founding fathers, Azikiwe, Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello, until the military came in 1966, and you don’t want to listen and that is why we are having all these problems; you will not have peace. He is not keen in keeping the country together in peace.
He believes in force and he wants to keep us together under an unacceptable constitution by force, and that is why all the heads of the security agencies are from the North.