‘BUHARI, TINUBU SAVED NIGERIA’
The 2014 National Conference organized by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan has been described as a political jamboree and a waste of national resources. Making the declaration in an interview with SATURDAY SUN, the Chairman, All Progressives Congress, APC in Lagos State, Chief Henry Ajomale described the confab as a mockery of what a national conference should be.
Ajomale who spoke in reaction to some claims by an elder statesman, Senator Femi Okurounmu in last edition of SATURDAY SUN in which he had, among others castigated President Muhammadu Buhari and APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for opposing the 2014 confab.
“Forget whatever Okurounmu is saying, the 2014 National Confab organised by Jonathan’s administration was a sham, a mockery and caricature of what a national conference should be. That national conference was not borne out of national interest. It was designed to promote and preserve Jonathan and PDP’s interests. The confab was also put together to provide easy money for some individuals whom Jonathan wanted to curry their favour. This is why serious-minded and genuine patriots like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and some of us who are his associates disowned that confab,” he declared. Ajomale also spoke on other national issues.
How would you react to allegations by Senator Femi Okurounmu in a recent interview that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and some of you that are his associates who were known to be strong advocates of the convocation of a national conference suddenly backed out of it and kicked against it because of Tinubu’s political interest and alliance with President Muhammadu Buhari who all along has never hidden his opposition to the national confab convened by former President Goodluck Jonathan?
Senator Okurounmu goofed seriously in that interview and his claims were mere falsehood. He was very unfair to Tinubu and some of us that were his associates. Unlike what Okurounmu claimed in that interview, Tinubu had never wavered in his support of a national confab. However, unlike the charade and sham of a conference which former President Goodluck Jonathan convened and which Okurounmu was an integral part of, Tinubu had always advocated for the convocation of a sovereign national conference.
Do you call that jamboree of 2014 convened by Jonathan a conference? No. What Jonathan convened was a mockery of a national confab. It was a sham and caricature.
What Jonathan convened was never a national conference talk less of being anything close to a Sovereign National Conference which Tinubu has always advocated. At Jonathan’s conference, nothing serious happened there – you see many of the delegates sleeping for most part of the time – Jonathan’s confab was like a comedy show. You would even see husbands and wives being delegates to the confab.
Jonathan was never sincere with that confab. He knew it was a gathering for merriments, and that’s why he himself didn’t implement the confab report before he left office. That Jonathan’s confab was just an avenue to distract Nigerians who are disgruntled with his bad administration. It was a gathering to share money, and keep some of his opponents or critics’ mouth shut.
Again, it is unfair for some Nigerians to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to implement Jonathan’s confab report when he had long time ago declared that he didn’t believe in it. The question again is this, why did Jonathan who organized the confab didn’t implement its report before leaving office? He had ample time and opportunity to implement the confab’s report but he failed to do so. So why do some Nigerians want Buhari to have anything to do with something he didn’t believe in and opposed.
Tinubu believes in a Sovereign National Conference, and this is a conference where the reports or decisions arrived at would be subject to a national referendum whose final results would be binding – this is unlike Jonathan’s confab whose reports would be sent to the National Assembly for ratification.
Power belongs to the people, and this is why under a Sovereign National Conference, it is people through a national referendum that will decide whether they accept or reject reports and recommendations made by a Sovereign National Confab, and it is whatever the people say through this referendum that becomes binding.
Can we now infer from what you are saying that these are some of the reasons Tinubu stayed away and rejected Jonathan’s confab?
Exactly. What Tinubu and his associates were asking for was a Sovereign National Conference, and what Jonathan did was opposite of what Tinubu advocated. Tinubu canvassed for a Sovereign National Conference, and this is not what Jonathan organized.
Some Northern leaders publicly disowned 2014 Confab …
Cuts in … Yes, I read about it in the papers. They claimed that the North was disadvantaged at the confab among others. They may have their own reasons for saying what they are saying and they may be right. But what I know is that one of the disadvantages of organizing an ordinary national conference like the one by Jonathan is that claims being made by Northern delegates and other objections will continue to come up, but if the conference had been a sovereign one where decisions were subject to a national referendum, nobody, group or association can come out and disown it again. Never. Once a referendum has been organized, and the result of the referendum accepted, then the result becomes binding forever. Apart from these Northern leaders, any other group or individual can also wake up tomorrow and disown that Jonathan’s confab. That confab was a sheer waste of our national resources.
From your comments, are you now saying that those condemning Buhari or attacking him for not implementing the 2014 confab report are being unfair to him?
Those critics or let me say hypocrites that are attacking Buhari are being unfair to him. These critics, where were they when their godfather Jonathan was in office, why did they not ask Jonathan who set up the confab to implement its report and recommendations? Why are they asking Buhari who never supported the confab to implement its report? It is not only Buhari or some Northerners that opposed that Jonathan’s confab, many of us that are Southerners also complained that time against it. We cried out loud that Jonathan and his co-travellers who joined hands with him in organizing that confab were embarking on a journey to nowhere. We told them that they were embarking on an ill-fated trip. Have we not been proved right now? Jonathan organized 2014 confab not in the interest of Nigeria but purely in his own political interests. He organized that confab to protect his own political interests. If Jonathan has not been selfish, and muster Sovereign National Conference, the story would have been different today.
In that interview, Senator Okurounmu claimed that Tinubu put his own political ambition over the interests of the Southwest people by entering into an alliance with President Muhamadu Buhari …
Cuts in … How can he say that? Of course, we are all political animals, and at any point in time you have the liberty of going into alliance or working with an individual you feel such an association will bring benefits to the nation. Okurounmu that is speaking against Tinubu, did he not work for Goodluck Jonathan, or former President? Okurounmu worked for Jonathan, and whatever Okurounmu is saying against Tinubu, he should not be taken serious. He is only trying to protect and defend the interests of his ally, Jonathan. What has Tinubu’s so-called ambition to become Senate President or Vice-President have to do with whether Tinubu support or oppose Jonathan’s confab? Honestly, if Jonathan had displayed that courage to convene a Sovereign National Conference, Tinubu would have supported such a conference, but anything short of that Tinubu would not have anything to do with, and this is exactly what happened.
Tinubu should not be crucified by Okurounmu because that would be unfair. Our party then, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN took a unanimous decision not to join or support Jonathan’s confab on matter of principle, and Tinubu as our leader was bound by whatever decision the party took.
How would you react to the claims that two years down the line that nothing has changed, and that things have taken turn for the worse under the APC government, what’s your take on this?
It is only dishonest people or mischievous politicians that will say things have not changed. Under APC administration, a lot of things have changed in the last two years. For the first time, the culture of impunity is being dismantled.
The era of nobody being untouchable is gone. Look at stolen loot being recovered here and there. Look at how they are now being made to be accountable for their action and deeds, look at the recent suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal and the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Dr Ayodele Oke, would this have happened under Jonathan?
In fact, Nigerians should hold Jonathan accountable for whatever pains they are going through. It is the making of Jonathan. Buhari is only trying to clear the mess and salvage the situation, and in doing this, he is trying his best, Nigerians should exercise patience with him. Nigeria’s economy was battered under Jonathan’s watch, and not only PDP was in power for 16 years, and within that period, a lot of damage was done to the economy of this country. It is PDP and Jonathan that Nigerians should hold responsible for the current mess. In fact, things became so worse under Jonathan to the extent that under his leadership, Nigeria would have become a failed state.
Buhari is trying his best to repair the damage collectively done to Nigeria by PDP and Jonathan. Corruption became so rife under Jonathan, and we are all seeing the result today. We are seeing how those officials under Jonathan are being exposed. How they looted and shared money meant to purchase arms to fight Boko Haram insurgents. How they diverted money meant to purchase arms to help PDP during 2015 general elections. Buhari is on a rescue mission, and I believe Nigerians should support him.
PDP and Jonathan destroyed this country. PDP squandered Nigeria’s wealth. Buhari deserves our support and accolades. If Buhari has not come into power, Nigeria would have become bankrupt. It is very sad and unfortunate that while Nigeria’s economy was dealt a big blow by PDP looters and some corrupt government officials, the then Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was feeding us with lies, telling Nigerians that Nigeria’s economy was not only robust and thriving but that it was also the biggest in Africa. But with Jonathan’s defeat and Buhari now coming into office, Okonjo-Iweala and other PDP chieftains were exposed as purveyors of lies. They were exposed as masters of propaganda. What a big shame.
Okonjo-Iweala should apologise to Nigerians for deceiving us about the true state of our economy during Jonathan’s time. Buhari is determined to make a difference. He is trying his best and signs of positive changes are manifesting daily. But one thing Nigerians should realize is that they have to exercise patience.
On the claims that Tinubu, for selfish reasons and personal interests and ambition, deceived Yoruba to vote for Buhari, and that today ..
Cuts in … That was another unfortunate claim by Senator Okurounmu and some other anti-Tinubu elements. Without being boastful, I can confidently say that today Nigerians not only Yoruba have a lot to thank Tinubu for going into alliance with Buhari and other people of like mind, which led to the formation of APC. If Buhari had not been voted into office, Nigeria would have become a failed state under Jonathan and PDP.
Things were getting from bad to worse under Jonathan, and corruption, looting and stealing of the nation’s wealth became the order of the day under Jonathan, and he couldn’t do anything about it. The situation got so bad that Nigerians even became confused because when they caught any government official stealing or engaging in acts of corruption, Jonathan would do nothing. Looters who are caught stealing billions of naira became untouchable, even some of them were close to Jonathan.
Instead of allowing the situation to degenerate, Jonathan himself became confused as he could no longer distinguish between stealing and corruption. At a point in a most unfortunate manner, he publicly declared that stealing is not corruption.
With such a statement emanating from the nation’s number one citizen, looting, stealing and pilfering of the nation’s wealth became order of the day and see how those evils were later exposed and still being exposed when Buhari came into power. It is those who benefitted from that old order that will never see anything good in Buhari’s administration. Yoruba are in love with Buhari’s anti-corruption war, and not only Yoruba but the entire Nigerians.
Tinubu is not what his political enemies are portraying him to be. Tinubu is a democrat. He never force his own decision or opinion on others. He allows his own followers or supporters to take decisions, and he goes along with whatever they decided, and that’s why he enjoys the confidence and support of millions of Nigerians.
We, APC leaders in the Southwest are not kids, we are adults capable of taking independent decisions on our own, and whatever decision we take is designed to protect the interests of the Yoruba and Nigerians in general.
Contrary to the falsehood being peddled by Okurounmu and some anti-Tinubu elements, that alliance entered into by our then party, ACN with other political parties including CPC led by Buhari that time was designed to liberate Nigeria from PDP’s evil administration. Tinubu is therefore a liberator and saviour contrary to the betrayal tag being put on him by Okurounmu and some enemies of change.