Outspoken Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi Okurounmu has accused INEC of working against southern interests in the recent presidential election. He also accused APC leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of using his personal interest to endanger the lives of other Yoruba people across the country. He spoke on these and other national issues in this interview conducted by TUNDE THOMAS.
What is your reaction to the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari over Alhaji Atiku Abubaka in the presidential election?
Buhari’s so-called victory was made possible through the collusion of INEC officials and the security agents that were deployed for the polls. The presidential and national assembly elections were marred with a lot of irregularities. To make matters worse, INEC officials and security agents openly worked for Buhari and APC, instead of being neutral. They openly supported Buhari and APC. It was glaring that INEC was acting out a script and that script was to dance to the tune of Buhari and APC. The election was far from being free and fair.
Again look at the number of deaths, the number of Nigerians who were sent to their untimely graves just because a clique wants to remain in power at all cost. Buhari has nothing to rejoice about. That election was a setback for our democracy. The president and his party members didn’t allow the will of Nigerians to prevail. Thank God Atiku has gone to court to challenge the outcome of the charade called election.
Are you saying that INEC compromised?
Obviously. INEC didn’t live up to expectation. It was glaring that INEC compromised and that’s why I described INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, a big failure. In several parts of Nigeria, especially in the South, millions of voters were disenfranchised especially in areas perceived to be strongholds of opposition parties. To show you how biased INEC was, while INEC insisted on the use of card readers in the South, same rule was not applied in the North and all manners of people were allowed to vote. At the end of the exercise INEC was declaring millions of votes in the North while working against the interests of the South. The situation portrayed INEC as having a hidden agenda. This is why Afenifere spoke out against some of these evils that took place during the presidential and national assembly elections. Imagine how APC supporters and thugs unleashed violence on voters in Oshodi, Okota, Isolo and some areas where they felt the party was not popular among residents. We are against the attacks on Igbo and other non-Igbo who were victims of APC supporters and thugs attack. We are all Nigerians and nobody has any right to impose his own will on others. You can’t force me to belong to your own political party or force your ideology down my throat. It is a free world and there should be freedom of choice.
As Lagosians file out on Saturday to cast their votes to pick the next governor of the state, what is your advice to the parties, the electorate, INEC, and security agents?
Lagosians don’t have problem with one another. Lagos has always been a melting pot for all Nigerians, and people have been living together in unity, and harmony. We are shocked by the action of APC supporters and thugs during the national assembly and presidential elections. There should not be a repeat of that show of shame during the gubernatorial elections. I advise security agents to be alive to their responsibilities. How can thugs, hoodlums and street urchins be attacking people and security agents would be found wanting?
I’m also shocked that when those thugs attacked people penultimate week neither APC national leader, Bola Tinubu and Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu deemed it fit to speak out against the evil. Even up till now neither of them has condemned those behind the attacks. Even the governor of Lagos state, Akinwumi Ambode failed to speak out and this was why Afenifere spoke out in order to douse tension. Afenifere spoke out to reassure non-Yoruba living in Lagos that the attack on them was not by Yoruba but by some thugs who were working for some political overlords. Yoruba are peace loving, and we will continue to promote and exhibit virtues that will continue to strengthen the bond of unity among Nigerians. Although we were initially shocked that Governor Ambode didn’t speak out but we later understood his own predicament. Ambode is also being persecuted by Tinubu and other APC leaders. But these people should stop playing God. They should not endanger Yoruba interests because of their own selfish interests. Voters in Lagos should not be intimidated. They should be allowed to exercise their fundamental rights in an atmosphere devoid of harassment and intimidation.
Now that Buhari has won the election, what advice do you have for him?
Buhari has gone beyond advice. Buhari already has a mindset and that’s why advising him is a waste of time. Buhari is opposed to restructuring of Nigeria. He wants the status quo to remain. But the fact still remains, whether Buhari wants to believe it or not there is no alternative to restructuring. Afenifere leaders’ opposition to Buhari is not borne out of hatred but out of our desire to have a country where there is justice and equity.
Look at the herdsmen menace, Buhari has failed to curb it simply because the herdsmen are his kith and kin. But the nefarious activities of herdsmen have been leading to loss of lives on daily basis across the country. But for how long will they continue to go on rampage before Buhari will deem it fit to find a solution to their menace?
Some Nigerians who have expressed joy over Buhari’s victory have declared that his re-election will enable him to sustain the war against corruption and carry out other reforms that will transform Nigeria, what’s your take on that?
Which war is Buhari fighting against corruption? Is Buhari truly fighting corruption, when his right hand man, and APC National Leader Bola Tinubu put bullion vans containing money in his compound ,and EFCC is looking the other way? To rub salt upon injury, when he was confronted about the propriety of what he did, instead of being sober Tinubu said he has the right to keep his money anywhere including his house, and some people say Buhari is fighting corruption. Remember also what APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole said publicly that any looter that joins APC will be forgiven his sins, and you say Buhari is fighting corruption. Buhari’s war against corruption is a mockery. It is not only one-sided but also selective.