Adebanjo Vs new Yoruba leaders

Pa Ayo Adebanjo’s interview in The Punch last week confirms why whatever he says has an attentive audience among his Yoruba people whom he along with other revered elders have served creditably for upward of 50 years. As was in his character, he stated without ambiguity the unanimity of thought on the recurring issue of the national question by his Yoruba people. According to him, it is “only a mad man who will oppose dialogue”. Yoruba position has always been that the national question can be resolved only through a national sovereign conference.

However, some of his admonitions: that his Yoruba people should trust President Jonathan; that Awo never went into coalition with strange bed fellows; that ACN ought not to associate with Tom Ikimi who served Abacha’s despicable regime as well as Muhammadu Buhari who although is incorruptible but a non-progressive religious fundamentalist; that the Yoruba will not vote APC because of APC leaders’ visitation to Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar who should be jointly held responsible for the killing and prevention of a Yoruba son from ruling the country.

I think Pa Adebanjo’s above declarations did serious damage to the Yoruba cultural advancement and political consciousness.

Adebanjo no doubt knows that trust is earned among the Yoruba. But here we have President Jonathan who seems to be at war against Nigerians since his election, who provides refuge to corrupt elements, whose open display of politics of ‘the end justifies the means’ is on display at both the national and state levels; this is a president who has tucked away inside his locker, the reports of past dialogues, the Uwais electoral reform report, the Ribadu report among piles of others from the National Assembly unattended to. I am sure Pa Adebanjo knows that as much as we hold our leaders in high esteem, they are incapable of influencing who the Yoruba people trust. Awo himself as far back as 1952 said that the Yoruba will not vote for you because you are Yoruba if they cannot see an added value you are going to add to their lives.

But the Yoruba knew Abiola, who used the old western state scholarship to study accountancy in Britain, but was to later deploy his newspaper to mislead and wage war against Awo the leader of the progressives, was an enemy of the progressives. The Yoruba knew the difference between him, Babangida and Abacha, and other military apologists who made their fortunes through the state was that unlike others, Abiola ploughed back what he took to solve social problems across the country, a strategy that earned him a landslide victory in the 1993 election. Yoruba that contributed to that victory and fought to defend his mandate on principle can be trusted to make an informed judgment if and when confronted with making a choice between PDP and APC in 2015.

Yes from hindsight we can say Awo was right to have resisted marriage of convenience in 1959. At least Pa Adebanjo accepted in the interview under focus that he along with our other respected elders (Afenifere) were misled by Babangida and Abdulsalami to support Obasanjo. As it turned out, Obasanjo and his self-serving mainstreamers only used Yoruba to build private empires and private universities while destroying the public institutions our revered leaders including Adebanjo put in place. The South-west mainstreamers used our people as stepping stone to join their counterparts in the east and the north who according to Alabi Isamah have jointly ruled our country since independence.

But it is doubtful if Awo who applied a lot of intellectual rigour to finding solution to Nigeria’s problems will in 2013 still stick to a 1959 failed experiment as being canvassed by Adebanjo. Were he to be faced with similar choice of canvassing true federalism where each group can control her own destiny as against marriage of convenience as occurred between NPC and NNNC, he would most probably be compelled to embrace today’s Afenifere Renewal Group option, designed to achieve the same objective without danger to the health of the Yoruba people who can look up to a pan Nigerian national party that can serve as a balance of terror to desperate PDP hawks interested only in self preservation.

And finally perhaps as a result of Pa Adebanjo’s unhidden war with the Afenifere Renewal Group that was accused of removing the carpet from under their feet, he would rather endure PDP than support any group ACN is linked with. For instance while insisting he “has no good word for the PDP,” which for him “are intolerable”; he also says he cannot ask PDP to be thrown away because like PDP, APC is an amalgam of strange bedfellows. Since according to him APC is a coalition designed only to uproot PDP from power, “he is not ready to move from frying pan to fire”. In other words, Pa Adebanjo is by inference saying we should allow PDP to continue its 14 years of mismanagement, of corruption and of national and international embarrassment. If this represents the view of the old Afenifere that Adebanjo speaks for, then it is clear there is a disconnect between our revered fathers and the over 40 million Yoruba whose today’s tenor, tune and tone they are unable to decipher.

Now as it was in the first and second republics, the omen is potent. PDP is deploying state resources, logistics and security apparatuses to undermine the efforts of the governments of the Yoruba states that pose no threat to the party’s ongoing looting but only want to be left alone to manage their own affairs. PDP Abuja headquarters that has been busy suspending elected PDP governors for alleged anti-party activities have been fueling intra-party feuds in Yorubaland. They recently hailed Opeyemi Bamidele’s efforts at destabilising his party in Ekiti. In Ondo, Mimiko who was aided to retrieve his stolen mandate from PDP by Ahmed Tinubu has today become more PDP than PDP. Because of the strategic importance of Ondo State and its capacity to destabise South-west, Mimiko, a governor on the platform of Labour Party, had the singular honour of nominating PDP minister from Ondo. In line with PDP and the President’s perfidious brand of politics, in place of PDP candidate in the last Ondo State election, it was Mimiko that got massive Abuja support. Three days after his victory, Mimiko was in Abuja celebrating the birthday of the president’s wife. Dr. Frederick Fasehun who was recently engaged in public altercation over pipeline monitoring contracts with its other splinter Oodua group seems to be going ahead with state support to register his Unity Party of Nigeria in spite of existing decrees and laws banning use of names of banned political parties.

Response to our unresolved national question requires new approach beyond hiding behind principles, philosophy ideology within a system where other actors behave like gangsters, guided by neither rules mores nor culture, and where even the judiciary has come under severe assault. Adebanjo has already expressed joy that PDP was uprooted from Yoruba land, without asking for the methodology the new generation of Yoruba political leaders like Chief Bisi Akande, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Wale Oshun, Niyi Adebayo, Segun Osoba and other young Yoruba intellectuals adopted to achieve the feat.

Without resorting to “operation wet e” they have retrieved stolen mandates in Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun from Obasanjo and his PDP Yoruba mainstreamers. They have gone ahead to mobilize, winning elections in Ogun, Oyo and Edo states. The young men at the helms of affairs in these states are said to be setting the pace of development for other states to follow. What more can our revered fathers ask for? If protecting this new achievement requires cohabitation of the new political leaders with our yesterday’s perceived enemies or those without the progressive badge, they have earned our trust to decide on our behalf. I am sure Awo in whose name the old and ‘renewal’ Afenifere fathers and sons swear will be happy in his grave that “in the destruction of the noble line, there is always a survivor”.

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