President Muhammadu Buhari has been advised to ensure that urgent measures are put in place to facilitate restructuring of the country. Chief Henry Dele Ajomale, an associate of APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu made the call in this interview with TUNDE THOMAS. Ajomale who is a former chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, in Lagos state, warned that no force can stop the current momentum of Tinubu’s presidential aspiration in 2023 even as he faulted the country’s present political structure adding that any attempt to ignore calls for restructuring will amount to postponing the evil day. He also spoke on other national issues
Following the recent developments within the All Progressives Congress, which subsequently led to the dissolution of the party’s National Working Committee led by Adams Oshiomhole, and the setting up of a Caretaker Committee, elder statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo in an interview advised Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to quit APC saying that under the present arrangement, he has been sidelined in the running of the party’s affairs. Do you agree with him?
I’m not surprised by Pa Ayo Adebanjo’s outbursts. That is his usual position on any issue relating to Tinubu. While Adebanjo is entitled to his own personal opinion, the view of majority of Nigerians especially APC members across the country is that Tinubu still remains a strong force to reckon with in the party, and not only in APC but in Nigerian politics. I’m not surprised by Adebanjo’s comments. For reasons known to him, he has never seen anything good about Tinubu.
To me, the setting up of the Caretaker Committee is not targeted at Tinubu or aimed at whittling down his political influence within the party. And by the way, if the setting up of the committee was targeted at Tinubu or if the aim was to reduce Tinubu’s influence or make him irrelevant in the party’s affairs, then why did the members of the committee visit him in his house? That visit by members of the committee says a lot about how they hold Tinubu in high esteem.
I also disagreed with Pa Ayo Adebanjo that Tinubu has abandoned restructuring, issues of fiscal federalism, and other progressive ideals since he teamed up with Buhari, and other APC leaders. Tinubu is a man of principle who remains committed to any ideal that will help to strengthen true practice of federalism in the country. Adebanjo should be ignored. Nigerians should not take him serious especially if he says anything on Tinubu.
I don’t know why Adebanjo has decided to turn himself into one man- opposition. You will always find him anywhere or in any group where they are speaking against the government. Sometime ago, he made a declaration that Nigeria should break; is that the kind of statement we should be expecting from an elder statesman of his stature? That was a treasonable statement, and if not for his age, he should have been arrested and charged to court for treason for making that inflammable statement.
But one thing I have discovered is that Adebanjo has now been deserted. How many of those people that we used to see with him are now with him? Adebanjo is now running a one man show. The old man is just lucky that God has blessed him with good health if not how many people in his age bracket can continue to run up, and down doing those kind of things he has been doing. But my candid advice to him is that Papa Adebanjo should take it easy, and slow down. Then he should not be portraying himself as an emblem of opposition against President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC led government.
Some other Nigerians are also saying it that the unfolding developments in APC are part of efforts by some groups within the party to stop or frustrate Tinubu’s 2023 presidential ambition
Honestly, I believe that no force can stop or frustrate Tinubu if it has been destined that he will be there in 2023. Moreover, why would any group be so desperate to stop a man that is eminently qualified to hold the post? Tinubu is eminently qualified, and if he comes out today to express interest I believe that millions of Nigerians will come out to support him. Forget whatever people like Adebanjo are saying. Some of these things they are saying are even borne out of envy, and personal jealousy. If Tinubu is destined to be there in 2023, no human force can stop him.
Although some people would say that why should another Yoruba man after Obasanjo served as President, and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as Vice-President, should set his eyes on 2023, but my take on that is this, what we should emphasize in 2023 is the principle of zoning, and under that arrangement it is supposed to be the turn of the South in 2023, and when it comes to the turn of the South then the presidency can go anywhere in the region. By this, I mean Tinubu’s aspiration should not be seen as a threat to the ambition of any other individual in the South who also has interest in 2023.
In a recent interview, the national leader of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima said older generation of political leaders should step back because they have nothing to offer again…
Cuts…..Did he mention Tinubu in that interview? I don’t think so. Moreover, I don’t agree with his viewpoint. There are still some members of the old generation of politicians who are still relevant , and who still have something to offer Nigeria. We are in democracy, and I believe the choice of who should lead the people should be left to Nigerians to decide. Tinubu still has a lot to offer Nigerians, and it will be in Nigeria’s interest if Tinubu emerges the country’s president in 2023. Some of us and others are ready to mobilize for him as soon as he publicly declares interest. We know what Tinubu is capable of doing, and that’s why we have decided to support him.
Fears are being expressed that APC may lose Edo state to the rival PDP in the coming gubernatorial election as a result of the recent crisis in the party which led to the defection of the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki to PDP, what’s your reaction to that?
The crisis is very unfortunate. My hope is that the party will try everything possible to put its house in order before the elections. At the moment, we are not 100% cohesive but I believe that before then everything would have been settled. I’m convinced that APC will win the election in spite of Obaseki’s defection. We are doing everything to ensure that everybody is united before the election. APC is not losing any sleep over Obaseki’s defection to PDP.
What’s your take on the recent statement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that insecurity, and other problems confronting the country will persist as long as Nigeria fails to restructure?
I agree with Obasanjo on this. Restructuring is the key to the mirage of problems facing the country, and the earlier we restructure the better for us. By failing to restructure we are just postponing the doomsday. Nigeria’s structure as at today is very faulty, and everything seems to be lopsided in favour of one section of the country, and that’s the North. Virtually other geo-political zones in the country including the South-West, South-South, South-East, and even the Middle-Belt are complaining, and the most logical thing I believe we should do is to give everybody a sense of belonging.
Look at the appointments being made in the country, it appears the North is getting the lion’s share, and this is unfair. President Buhari must ensure that there is equity, and justice. Everybody must be given a sense of belonging. Although we claim to be practising federalism but in actual practice what we are running in Nigeria today is a unitary system or what I will call mono-federalism which the military put in place in 1966,and which we have been running till today. But this system is inimical to the unity of the country. If we restructure, some of the challenges facing us will be naturally resolved. All these complaints of bias, and favouritism that we are hearing today will naturally disappear if we carry out genuine restructuring. Nigeria’s unity is seriously endangered without restructuring.