… Urges Buhari to quit if he’s incapable
Recently, some prominent leaders of thought under the umbrella of Southern and Middle-Belt Forum met with the leadership of the Senate over state of affairs of the nation. In this interview, one of the arrowheads of that initiative, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, gives an insight into what transpired at the meeting. He also speaks on Obasanjo’s Coalition Movement and dissociates Afenifere from its change agenda.
You were one of the leaders of thought who recently met with the leadership of the Senate and proposed a declaration of National Emergency. Could you give further details about that proposal?
You don’t expect me to give you the details. That is why we went into private discussion with the leadership. We are just trying to form a formidable something. While doing the consultation, you don’t expect us to bring the consultation to the public. After meeting them, we went into private session where we didn’t allow the press to be there to show the seriousness of the deliberation. When we finish everything, it will be made public.
Does it include the unending killings in the country?
We all agreed that something must be done about it. Buhari needs to assure the country that he is capable of defending lives and property of the citizens as enjoined on him by the constitution. Failure to do that, he has no justification to be there. We can’t say more than the fact that we are not satisfied with what they are doing and they have no right to be there. How can you imagine picking all the security officers of the state from the North? All we can say now is to complain aloud and tell them that we are not all mumus. We are talking and complaining; it is left to the government to take positive action to show results. If there is no result, then it means he is incompetent and inefficient.
Are you also of the opinion that the removal of Service Chiefs will improve the situation?
If somebody is in office and he is not performing, what do you do? You don’t make politics out of it. The killing is continuing and these are the people in charge of security. They have to justify why they are there. This is not a matter of sentiment. If they are not performing, change them and get a new hand and see if there will be no better result. Here is a president who said he gave the head of security up till January to stop destruction of lives and we are now in April and yet that officer is still in office. What type of incompetence is that?
Is this incompetence borne out of the fact that they (Security Officers) are all from a particular section of the country?
It is left for you to draw the conclusion. We have complained about that before and it goes further than that. If we say it is incompetence, we are just begging the issue. People are saying President Buhari is behind this ethnic cleansing. I even said that Danjuma gave him a soft landing by saying that the army has been compromised. Army is obeying the body language of the Commander-in-Chief. My own theory is simple: If Buhari does not approve of what the army is doing; he should sack them and put new people there. How can he say that the army is disobeying him and the head of that army is still in office? What is your own conclusion? I asked Danjuma who has been the Chief of Army Staff before; can he disobey the Commander-in-Chief and still be in office? How can we believe that the Commander-in-Chief does not support what the army is doing or he is unaware of their inactivity? In some cases, he gives instruction and they don’t obey. There is no point begging the issue. We should all be unanimous enough to tell Buhari that the game he is playing is already known. If he does not know what to do, then he is incompetent. If he is incompetent, he should leave the office.
You discussed the agitation for restructuring of the country in your meeting with the Senate leadership. Was there any assurance from your discussion?
Without restructuring this country will not stay together. We have said that one enough. It is because the country is not restructured that all this nonsense is going on. When a governor of a state has no control over the security of the state, and the people he swore to protect are being killed, what else is the way out? How can you be pretending that you don’t know the cause of your problem? You know the problem but you don’t have the courage to solve it.
Were you able to get any assurance from the Senate to support restructuring?
My dear, don’t try to probe into what we discussed there.
Okay, what is the way to achieving that restructuring now in view of the limited timeframe before the next general election?
If the government of the day is serious about restructuring, they should do it before the election. If they do not do it, it is our own duty to organize the body that will win election and do restructuring. We will get these people out of office and restructure the country. I am not speaking for my group; my own view is that if Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) love the country, they should restructure the country before the next election. Even if it is requires that election should be postponed for restructuring to take place, he should rework it out; otherwise, going for election will be the second line of action. And that will require mobilization of the whole country to get rid of an incompetent government.
As leading figure in Afenifere, are you thinking of possible alliance with any political party that is more disposed to restructuring?
What is the whole essence of the Southern and Middle-Belt Forum? What are we working for? We have all realized the need to come together to get rid of this government. We are not there for a jamboree. South-South, South-west, South-east and Middle Belt are working together for a common purpose. We are not ganging up against anybody. We are working together to achieve an ideological direction for the country to have a federal system, where each federating unit is independent and autonomous. We have not yet decided which party we are going to support. The process of choosing any party is still on. But we have not chosen any political party. We are going to support any political party that has the same ambition of restructuring the country. All other conditions will be stipulated by the time we get to that stage.
Are you looking at the possibility of emergence of the Third Force?
Who are the people behind the Third Force? I want you to be specific because I don’t want to be involved in any wild goose chase and bringing old wine in a new bottle. I am too old in the country to be involved in things like that. If you are referring to Obasanjo’s Movement, I don’t believe in it because Obasanjo himself is part of the problems to be solved. Although he gave a good analysis of incompetence of Buhari, it does not mean he has a solution to it. Some of us are not Mumus to be deceived by any cheap language. What has Obasanjo accused Buhari of doing that he was not guilty of? Let us look for young, bright men with ideas to organize the country to a better system of government.
Already, he has adopted African Democratic Congress (ADC) as a political platform to actualize his change agenda and he is forging ahead.
(Cuts in)….What do you want me to do about that? It is his constitutional right to do so. You too can form your own party. My objection to his idea does not mean that I am objected to his right to form a party. It is his constitutional right. It is left for the electorate to consider him worthy. That is the whole essence of democracy. Obasanjo has a right to form his own political party and Ayo Adebanjo has the right to object to it. We are all exercising our constitutional rights.
But it appears he (Obasanjo) is tacitly trying to align with Afenifere.
(Cuts in)….My friend, don’t bring Afenifere into this matter. Afenifere is not involved in anything with him. That is what I am telling you.
Then, was his presence at the memorial of the late Abraham Adesanyo an accident or by invitation?
You journalists cause confusion in this country. How can a man who attended a memorial function be considered as part of us? I talked on that day and I thanked all the military officers that attended that function to honour our leader. I commended their broadmindedness to attend memorial service of someone with whom they don’t share the same political view. That does not mean I agree with them. Adesanya didn’t share the same political view with Obasanjo. Neither did he share the same political view with Gen Abdul Salam Abubakar (rted). But they are prominent citizens who believe this man deserved to be honoured on his 10th anniversary and they attended. What is wrong with that?
But he has not attended any before this one. Has he?
Was there any one we had done before that he did not attend? And even he didn’t attend the one before that was his choice. If he didn’t attend the one before and he changed his mind to attend this one, that is his constitutional right.
The insinuation in the public is that the man is trying to seek relevance within your group?
I don’t know his intension. But if you are sure that that is his intension, tell the public. He will rather react to it. If that is the insinuation in the public, they are entitled to it. By disagreeing with people and criticizing them, I don’t infringe on constitutional rights. The country is free for anybody to hold any opinion. I don’t have control over their minds. The result will show whether their insinuation is correct or not. Is it not those who left PDP to form APC that are now complaining that they are not satisfied and giving ultimatum to quit? They have a right to do that. By the time election comes, we will all show our programmes.
With the state of things today, do you see the 2019 election feasible?
What do you think yourself when those in government of the day are not agreed on what to do? Does the ruling party itself agree? Those who want to rule us again are in violence among themselves as to who should be on their platform for election. They can’t decide their internal democracy and they want to decide for the country. Somebody whose household is in tatters wants to hold the country in unity.
What’s the implication for the present democratic dispensation, if eventually the election does not hold?
That will be unfortunate. You and I know that. I had said it before loud and clear that if Buhari loves this country and he is sincere about keeping this country together in peace (underlined), he should restructure the country and give each state its autonomy. If there is no hidden agenda about him being in office, if all these allegations against him are not correct, he should do it. He has been accused of being the patron of Cattle Dealers’ Association, he denied it but his actions show that he is supporting them. He has refused to disarm the herdsmen. And that is the reason they are killing and maiming. IPOB people who did not kill, who did not rape women are declared terrorists. But here are the people who kill, maim and rape daily, yet you turned a blind eye. This is a Commander-in-Chief who said he gave an instruction to the heads of the army and they didn’t obey him and few months after they are still in office. This is a Commander-in-Chief under whom two principal organs of security are openly disagreeing. Up till now, we don’t know whether he has decided. The officers of the body are still in office. And these are the people to protect lives and property. Law and order has broken down in his face. Are you saying you are incapable of protecting lives of the citizens? If you are incapable, why don’t you have the courage and moral to resign? Jonathan was voted out because you promised to do better. We are worse than before. The Naira is falling, roads are bad, education is collapsing, no electricity, freedom of the press is also being infringed. Just because Danjuma made a statement, people went to his village and attacked his house. So also they did to the leader of Ohanaze Ndigbo, Nwodo. Who are the culprits behind these attacks and killings? When I warned Nigerians against Buhari, they said I got money from Jonathan. All the things I stated against him have now come to pass.
Going by the body language of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Southwest is likely to follow the same pattern of voting in 2019. Do you still feel the need for further warning?
I am not in Tinubu’s party, so I don’t know how their voting will go. I will warn the people, they should not go there again. And I will not stop talking. I don’t think the electorate of the South-west are Mumus to follow him. We are not that illiterate in the West. We have no cattle rearers in the South-west, and I mean it. If there is a wrong direction for any leader, that leader will find himself in soup. The APC should come and show the West what they have done to deserve the support of the people. Now, they want us to repeat the same mistake again. God forbid!