By Gilbert Ekezie
Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko is one of the leaders of the Arewa community in Lagos State and Chairman, Board of Trustees of Arewa Community Forum in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state. He is also the Vice President of National Association of Government Approved Frieght Forwarders (NAGAFF) and National Coordinator of NAGAFF 100 per cent Compliance Team.
In this Interview, he explains why Asiwaju Bola Tinubu should be given the opportunity to become president and the need to involve the Arewa fully in the politics of Lagos State.
Could you tell us the reason behind the formation of Arewa Community Forum?
Well, the Arewa Community Forum is aimed at uniting the northerners to find a possible way to move forward in all ramifications. We are found in many places across the country. In Ajeromi Ifelodun Area, Lagos State, for instance, our people had been complaining for many years that they do not have someone who can speak for them when it comes to issues of common interest. They also feel that such forum would make them more formidable and give them a good sense of belonging. So, we started the forum about four years ago, and surprisenly, we are making headway because our objectives are being achieved gradually.
Looking at the politics of Lagos, what is the position of Arewa people in Lagos?
Obviously, the Arewa are politically active in Lagos politics, and we have been contributing to the political development of the state in many ways. We encourage our people to participate during elections and other political activities in Lagos State. In areas like Agege, Apapa and Idi-Araba, the Arewa clinch the position of councillors due to their ccommitment and they are doing well.
You have a very good number of Arewa people in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area where you reside. Why have you not produced a councillor as it is applicable to other areas you mentioned?
In fact, that has been a very big challenge to us, and it is disturbing. We have made several efforts in the past to ensure that the Arewa community in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area produces at least a councillor, Vice Chairman or Supervisory Councillor, but the efforts yielded no positive results. If you look at the three major ethnic groups in the local government – Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba, we cannot be undermined, especially in ward E. We do come out to seek elective or appointive positions, but we are denied of these by the powers that be. Our number, loyalty and active participation in political activities in the area are enough reasons to consider us for elective or appointive positions by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the locality. For instance, if you check the revalidation and registration of members by APC, you will find out that the Arewa people participated actively and have a reasonable number of members of the party. We have never failed the Yoruba and APC in the local government. They should check their records. But, in spite all that, we are ignored.
Like you said, the Arewa have the number and are active in the politics of Ajeromi Ifelodun, what do you think is the reason behind your inability to secure at least one of the positions you desire?
We do not know how and when we offended the Yoruba in the area. The Igbo have always produced councillors and vice chairmen and other positions, even when many of them are always being accused of going against the ruling party during elections. However, we have come out this time around to continue to demand for our right to be voted for because one who votes and participates actively during elections has the right to be voted for. In fact, we are not happy that other major ethnic groups, even the South-south people have produced councillors and vice chairmen in the local government, except the Arewa.
What particular positions are your people seeking this time?
We are demanding for councillor, vice chairman or supervisory councillor. But our main target is a councillor in Ward E on the platform of APC. We have visited some of the major party leaders in the local government area for that purpose, but we are not satisfied with the answers they gave us. Though, we have decided to vote for APC, because we want the incumbent Chairman, Fatai Adekunle Ayoola, to return for a second term. In fact, the entire Arewa people in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area, Lagos State give 100 percent support for him. Notwithstanding, if APC fails to give us the opportunity to produce the councillor for Ward E, we have the right to take a decision on what next to do as regards the councillorship election in Ward E. The Arewa will no longer succumb to imposition of candidates in the ward where they dominate.
As it is, do you have someone in mind for the position of councillor?
There are three people who have already signified interest for the position, and we asked them to go and talk to themselves and bring out one person. They are presently discussing and we are optimistic that they will return to tell us who they agreed on, in a few days. Then, we will continue from there. In fact, producing an Arewa person as councillor in Ward E in the forthcoming local government election in Ajeromi Ifelodun LGA is a project we are embarking upon with all seriousness and we are hopeful that it will be actualized.
You said earlier that Arewa people are 100 per cent in support of the second term ambition of the incumbent Chairman of Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Lagos State, Fatai Adekunle Ayoola. What is the reason for such wholesome support?
I would say that Fatai Ayoola is a leader who listens to the yearnings of the people and ensures that he takes care of them. His achievements in the area of roads reconstruction, schools, healthcare centres and development of sports and sporting facilities are there to be seen. He is really an Ajegunle person who knows where the shoe pinches. He sees everyone as an entity and carries the people along. Judging by his track record, I think there is no Hausa person in the area that will not support him. Already, the Hausa Community in the local government area has endorsed him for second term, and this time around, if he carries us along, I will sponsor some of the things he needs during campaign, like posters, banners, T-Shirts, handbills etc. to ensure that he succeeds.
How do you see life and leadership in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area popularly called Ajegunle?
Well, we are okay with the leadership as residents. And, to the best of my knowledge, life is good in the area. We have an improved security and free movement. One important thing about Ajegunle is that the residents are their brothers keepers, and they do certain things for themselves. Today, residents of the area control themselves – security wise, and not the police. If you look back then, you will find out that there is more relative peace now. I lived at Obanikoro area where we had street gates and policemen at each gate, yet I did not find the place as peaceful as Ajegunle that is seen by many as porous and free for all. You see, people may be telling different ugly stories of crime about Ajegunle. But I can tell you that I do not have any issue of robbery in the area as we speak. Also, if you look at the relationship between the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and other ethnic groups in the area, you will observe that it is cordial. So, I give credit to those that are leading the area and appeal that they should keep doing the good job. Notwithstanding, Arewa in the area are still demanding for a councillor, and I think if the leadership of APC should do that, they have done everything for them.
What would you say concerning the 2023 presidential election?
It is going to be interesting. As it is being said that the southern part of the country will produce the next president, I think Asiwaju Bola Tinubu deserves the position due to his role in and contribution to the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari as President in 2015. I would say that the Yoruba played at least 40 percent role in Buhari’s success in 2015, while others shared 60 percent. As it is, I do not think that there is any Hausa that will hesitate to support Tinubu’s presidential ambition because I see it as a payback time for him. When one does something good, there is need to pay him back with good too. So, Tinubu deserves to be supported by the northerners because he did same to them.
Are you saying that the Hausa should support Asiwaji Bola Tinubu for president in 2023, because he assisted the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari, an Fulani man to become president in 2015, not minding whether he will do well or not?
Like I said supporting Buhari to become president is the major reason the Hausa should support Tinubu in 2023. Aside that, it is obvious that Tinubu is a leader who knows how to play good politics. So, if given the opportunity, I think he will do well.