AC Not Different From PDP

1 Comment » April 17th, 2008 posted by // Categories: Nigeriawatch





AC Not Different From PDP —Ayo Adebanjo

Ayo Adebanjo had just finished his secondary education at CMS Grammar School when he tested the fire in his own belly. The flame was stoked by his avid reading of The West African Pilot, published by the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. Adebanjo was then working at the Births and Deaths Department of the Medical Headquarters (now Ministry of Health) on Broad Street, Lagos.

One morning, a white expatriate, with a supercilious swagger,


sauntered into Adebanjo’s office and asked where the Deaths Department was. Adebanjo looked up from a file he was reading, as a malignant scowl crawled all over his face. When he spoke, it was as if it was Belzebub himself that stood before him in the form of that white man that morning, a creature that should be dealt with seriously. Adebanjo fired at the expatriate: “Is that how to say good morning in your country?”

The visitor stood transfixed, his moustache twitching malevolently with surprise. Unable to swallow the “insult” from that saucy nigger, the white man reported Adebanjo to his boss who issued, him a query. Rather than solve the problem, Adebanjo’s reply complicated matters further. He stated the facts as they occurred and concluded that he stood by his position. He was fired immediately! Since then, Adebanjo has never looked back. After having his backside kicked, four square, out of the medical office, the country became his turf of activism.

Adebanjo first joined the Egbe Omo Oduduwa and, eventually Action Group (AG) where he rose to the position of Organising Secretary for Remo Division until 1957 when he traveled to England for his legal training at the Council for Legal Education. He was called to the Bar at the Lincoln Inn in 1961.

He returned from England to join the law firm of AWOLOWO AKERELE & CO in Ibadan, where he worked as a counsel for one year, until the treasonable felony trial of 1962 where he was accused number 30. His ‘leader’, Chief Awolowo, was accused number 27.

Adebanjo spent the next four years in exile in Ghana from 1962 to 1966 until his detention in Usherford Prisons, Accra. He was moved from there to Kaduna Prisons, Kaduna and eventually Kirikiri Prisons, Lagos. He was released in December 1967.

Between 1968 and 1969, Adebanjo was with M. OLA OWODUNNI & CO, until he established his own chambers and moved to Western House, Broad Street, Lagos.

A member of the Committee of Friends of Chief Awolowo which later metamorphosed into Unity Party of Nigeria(UPN) in 1978, he served as a National Executive Council member of the party all through the Second Republic from 1979 to 1983.

Though not very active during Babangida’s Third Republic, the annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential Elections, won by Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, again brought out the activist in him. With other patriots, he was one of the founders of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) in 1994, and was in the forefront of the restoration of Abiola’s mandate.

During General Sani Abacha’s rage, Adebanjo was incarcerated on June 17, 1996 for about four months. Indeed, he was harassed all through Abacha’s dictatorship.

When the ban on politics was lifted in 1998, he helped in conceptualising Alliance for Democracy. And upon its death, he became a pillar of Democratic Peoples Alliance.

Born on 10 April 1928 at Oke Lamuren, near Ijebu Ode, Adebanjo was educated at St. Saviour’s High School, Holy Trinity School, Christ Church Cathedral School and CMS Grammar School, Lagos, all between 1937 and 1949. After working as a clerical officer at Medical Headquarters, Ikorodu Trading Company, as crime reporter and later commercial editor, Daily Service,’ Adebanjo traveled to the United Kingdom to be trained as a lawyer. The Bajulaiye of the Ife, Geregbedun of Iken Ogbo and Asiwaju of Ibido Ogbo turns 80 on 10 April. He spoke to General Editor, Ademola Adegbamigbe and Nehru Odeh about his life, politics in the South West and beyond

Q: How do you feel being 80?

A: I feel good that God has been so graceful to me. It’s just the mercy of God; and with the good things that I have, I thank God.

Q: In one of your letters, you acknowledged that God has seen you through thick and thin. Can you throw more light on this?

A: Yes. God has seen me through thick and thin. Maybe so

A: In the primary or secondary?

me of you don’t know that I was one of the accused persons with Chief Awolowo in the treasonable felony trial in the early 1960s. That was when those who are now contesting leadership with us were either in school or elsewhere. They now say they are equal with us–with Chief Awolowo and others.

I was accused and I had to leave on exile to Ghana. We had other turbulent things there. We came back. I was also detained by the Muhammadu Buhari regime. People were surprised at the support of our party for General Muhammadu Buhari in the last presidential election. They did not know what we did. We were trained to stick to principles, not personalities. So by the time we were supporting him for the presidency, he was the only person who had not been accused of corruption. He may be bad in other ways and may not be a democrat. I even told him that I suffered under him in detention. It was under him that the man at Odogbolu locked us up in Abeokuta. But we are still what we are because truth is constant. We are not prepared to waver, as some people who would say when a new government comes: if you can’t beat them, join them. After all, you are getting old. You better tag along. It doesn’t pay. I would have been wealthier, but I won’t have the name I have today. The two don’t go together.

Chief Awolowo told me when I was an organising secretary that when you are chasing money, and you meet honour, you had better go back. This means honour is better.

You will see that all the politicians you know that are wealthy today and all that, you no longer refer to them. You are no longer keen to go and interview them on a special day like this. You would say they won’t buy my paper because of them. That’s the public judging them. Sometime ago, Obasanjo equated himself with Chief Awolowo. He has seen the difference now. He has not spent a year out of office and people are spitting on his name. But 20 years after Awolowo’s death, people are still assembling to give honour to him, pouring encomium on him, referring to his old days. That is why I told some journalists that Awolowo said he would be fighting until he gets to the grave and even in his grave he would still be fighting. What he is fighting for is what he stood for; that even the government of today lacks. People remember him with nostalgia. What he achieved, current political leaders cannot match and they cannot improve on.

On many occasions, they can’t even achieve what he achieved, much less improving on it. And the moment people begin to talk like that, that is Awo fighting, that is Awo living forever. Awolowo lives forever in ideas. We are not so naïve as to think that he lives physically forever. No; the ideal will live forever. What he preached in the country before is happening now.

Q: What was growing up like?

A: I was born in a village called Ogbo-Okelamue, near Ijebu Ode. It is about four kilometres to Ijebu Ode. I had spent some time in a small school called Council School, Okelamue. When my parents relocated to Lagos, I went to Saviour’s High School, founded by the late Chief Osibogun.

Q: What year was that?

A: That was 1935/36. From there, I went to the Holy Trinity School. In 1942, I proceeded to Christ Church Cathedral School in Lagos. I was there till 1943. Then I went to the CMS Grammar School in 1944 and left in December 1949.

After leaving school, I joined the government service at the Medical Headquarters in Lagos. I spent about a year there (during the colonial era) and my appointment was terminated.

Q: Why?

A: They said I was rude to a white man. In the Medical Headquarters then, we had a department known as Births and Deaths. So one morning, an expatriate just rushed to the office and said: ‘Where is the dental department?’ I asked him: Is that how to say good morning in your country? Then he went to report me to our boss. So, he too wanted to prove that he was punishing me. He gave me a query. I answered that I actually said what the man reported and that I stood by my words. So the next thing I got was a letter of termination.

Q: But before you could make that kind of statement, something must have steeled your resolve. Was it the kind of company you kept, what you read or some radical role models?

A: I had been an activist. I had been buying the West African Pilot, published by the nationalist, Nnamdi Azikiwe, when I was in the primary school. In fact, my class teacher read my own copy of the Pilot because I got my copy early in the morning from home. And it was only supplied to my teacher about 9-10am when the vendors went round the schools. That time, we committed Zik’s column, Inside Stuff, to memory. Anybody that disagreed with anything written there was looking for our trouble!

Q: Can you still remember some of your early school mates?

A: There were many. In the primary school, we had the late Sodipo, he was my bestman. We were school mates at Cathedral School. We were also classmates at the grammar school. Then we had Dr. G.O. Ogunnekan, now a retired physician in Ibadan. We were classmates in primary school, he was my senior at the grammar school.

Q: How come he was your senior?

A: While we were still going step by step in the primary school, Ogunnekan’s parents, who were more educated, took him from Standard Two to Standard Three. He joined a preparatory school. From there, he went into class one in the grammar school. On the other hand, I had to go through the journey of completing Standard Six before I got to class one. By the time I joined class one at the grammar school, my colleague was already in class three.

Q: You said you friend’s parents were educated…

A: Yes, my parents were not educated. They were illiterate.

Q: How then did you have access to education? Was it the missionaries or what happened?

A: No! no! no! They were illiterate parents but they were people who believed that I should be educated up to primary school. I remember that when I was in primary school, my mother was only keen on seeing me educated up to Standard Six, because at that time, the late Ogbeni Oja of Ijebu Ode, Chief Adeola Odutola, one of the richest people in our area, only had a Standard Six certificate. So when I passed Standard Six, my mother asked what was I going to do since I was already as educated as the richest man in our place.

But that was not the way I was thinking. Before then, I had taken the admission form of the grammar school. I bought the form with my own pocket money, without telling my mother. When I got through to the grammar school, my name was pasted. At that time, I was patching up, helping my mother at the shop–she was selling provisions. I was staying behind the counter. I told my mother that I had been admitted to the school from where our landlord’s son had been expelled. At that time, they had dismissed our landlord’s son from the grammar school and he had to go to Ilesha Grammar School. So my mother was thrilled by the mere fact that I could go to the same school that our landlord’s son was attending. That was the trick I used. I knew she was not that rich, but she was involved in monthly esusu (contribution) – three pence a day, seven (shillings) and six (pence) in a month and one pound, seven and six in three months. So when I was going to pay my school fees, it was all in pieces. When I got to class two–you know I was becoming mature–I asked my mother to go and change the money into currency because my classmates always called me Omo siga re, isano re (son of a petty trader). But what is significant is that though my mother was poor, she did everything to make me as comfortable as the son of the richest man in the class.

Q: What actually influenced your career choice as a lawyer?

A: From school, I developed the interest for the legal profession. I liked the way lawyers dressed and I saw the reports in papers, the cases between leading lawyers while exchanging views, putting up arguments. I made sure when I left school, after my sack at the ministry, and my sojourn at Ikoyi Trading Company as a clerk, I went into journalism with the Daily Service.

And at that time, I was covering the courts. I always went to courts where lawyers argued trenchantly.

Q: How was your training as a lawyer like?

A: I had a very good training. I didn’t go to the university. I went to the Council of Legal Education in the line of S.A. Akintola, Bode Thomas, Ladipo Moore, E.J. Aka-Taylor and others. The reason for this was not because I did not like academics, but I couldn’t afford it. I wanted the shortest possible route to becoming a lawyer. Even at that time, I was an organising secretary before I went to England. As a premier, Chief Awolowo held a send-forth party for me before I went to England. You can imagine my type at that time. To be an organising secretary of a party, we had a leadership that appreciated what that meant because he believed without this organising secretary who dealt with mobilisation, they could not succeed.

Q: What is the difference in being an organising secretary then and now?

A: Now they issue only press releases! That is the truth. I happened to know why. Look at Ebenezer Babatope, claiming to be one. The foundation we laid then, the achievement of that struggle led by Chief Awolowo in the whole Western Region has become a reference point. The achievement of Chief Awolowo so impressed people that if you mentioned Awo anywhere, you were at home.

Q: There is this raging argument over the relevance or otherwise of Afenifere to Alliance for Democracy or Action Congress…

A: Some people argued that by the time we formed the UPN, there was no Afenifere. They are just deceiving themselves. Afenifere had always existed.

That is where again we seem to be in parallel position with some of our former governors who wanted to separate the party from Afenifere. It is fraudulent to do so because it is the name, Afenifere, that we used to market them for elections in 1999. I want any one of them to dispute that. When we say Afenifere, you say no, it was AD. Who knows AD ? They said we are different and are the successors to UPN, to the Action Group and what Awolowo stood for. They were saying it is where we ended our welfare programme that they were going to continue. And that was why they won, they argued.

And sometimes, some of them say Afenifere was founded in 1993 by Bola Ige. I just laugh. It is not true. Bola Ige himself said the one that Chief Awolowo founded was Afeniferere. I am a founding member and a founding organiser of the party. There was nothing like that. In 1995, Mrs. Awolowo wore a badge showing AG Afenifere.

Anyway, I want you to know one thing and it is important. You can never find any of the old associates of Awolowo from 1952 singing the song of separation within them. They are all people who joined us in 1978, 79, 82– the latter day Awoists. If I should add, they know how they came in.

Those are the people who came in after the name Awolowo had been established. And people knew that without being an Awo man, you couldn’t win an election in the West. That was why they joined. So it wouldn’t mean anything to them if you can disconnect that name. But to those of us who worked for it, it means a lot.

And that is probably why they say Afenifere is sectional. Afenifere is not sectional. Afenifere is the only name given to the Action Group in the Yoruba area. Were we sectional when we were winning elections in the minority areas in the East? Were we sectional when we formed the opposition in the North, in the Middle Belt? And at that time, to show you that everybody was using the local name to propagate AG, we called it the Middle Belt Action Group Alliance.

It is because people want to be mischievous or dishonest. And when they want to do so, I ask if we did not market them under the name of Afenifere? If you can dispute that idea, please do. When did they discover the idea of Afenifere not being the same as AD? Some of them talk glibly that the name Afenifere stopped the party from spreading, as if calling your national name by the local name makes you not to spread. And I ask if we did not spread in 1952, 53, 54? We have always advocated federalism. They claim we are sectional. We are sectional, but we were the opposition in the East. We are sectional and we were the opposition in the North. We are sectional, we were the opposition in the centre. How national can a party be? But unfortunately, journalists also pander to that. You say this one is a sectional party, as if saying your party is national makes you national.

Q: What is the relationship between Afenifere and AC or is it AD now?

A: AC has no connection with Afenifere except our members who left us for AC still say they are Afenifere. It is left for them. Because of the reputation Afenifere has acquired, many of them, in the days of need, haven’t got the courage to say they have disconnected from Afenifere.

Sometime ago, even Alhaji Jakande said he is Afenifere, but the masses are not blind. The Yorubas, as I told you earlier, know their leaders. It is not by mouthing you are this or that. They know those who are dishonest, they know those who can serve them anytime. When Yoruba members in the PDP say Yorubas are now in the mainstream because they have chosen some Yorubas as Federal Ministers, I just laugh. They are just deceiving themselves.

It is not Obasanjo that brought the Yorubas to the mainstream. From Independence, the Yorubas have been in the federal government. Elias was the first Attorney-General, T.O.S. Benson was the first minister of information and Kola Balogun was in the Federal government. They were not the true representatives of the people. We were in the opposition then, we were the people they still regarded as their leaders.

Now what happens? Aren’t there Yorubas in the PDP. Many of them are in the government in Oyo, Ogun and others. Go and examine the appointments made by Yar’Adua. How many positions are Yorubas holding? That is the issue. It is not the issue for me. My worry is what becomes of my race? This is a time I should be relaxing.

There is no doubt that you’ve been constantly making public statements in support of Awo’s legacies. But the flip side of this is that some critics have accused Afenifere members of helping Obasanjo to smash Awo’s legacies. What is your reaction to this?

Q: Who are they?

A: I said some…

Even the some, who are they? Are they the people who are joining Afenifere or the people Afenifere has no confidence in. Even before you asked this question, I had said there are some who joined us in order to be relevant. And having joined us, they used our position to sell us. I know what they have in mind.

Anybody knows how the Action Group came into existence, what we were fighting for; when we were being dominated by the Ibos and the Hausas. We cannot easily say well; the fight for the Yorubas can be done by any other organisation.

At that time, we were not fighting to dominate others. We were only fighting to refuse to be dominated. So it is not the unity of the horse and the rider, when you are the rider and we, the horse.

Q: You said as a student, you read Zik’s column in the West African Pilot. Was that what actually fired your political zeal?

A: Oh no, nobody missed it. Even Chief Awolowo acknowledged the leadership of Azikiwe, politically, in arousing nationalistic feelings of the average Nigerian. Azikiwe gave the leadership. We all accept that.

In the pre-colonial days, he took the lead. What brought the divide between him and us was the question of the system of government and the question of when the Macpherson Constitution came in. The Northern Region had its government. The Hausa-Fulani formed it. The East had its government and Zik wanted an easterner to be the governor of the Western Region. That was the thing that brought the clash. If an easterner can be the governor, does it mean we lack people to govern us?

That is the vexed issue of carpet-crossing that sent Zik back to the East of the Niger from whence he came!

Q: Was there actually a carpet-crossing?

A: No! no! no! I am coming to that. There was no carpet-crossing by anybody. But those who felt they wanted to join the majority party crossed to us. I have told some of your colleagues before. And I want to refer you to the book written by Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu. We had won our majority seats. I think 42 or 40 out of 80. Azikiwe had been disputing it in his paper. We got the signature of every member and he said no. We put their photographs, he said no. So on the first assembly of parliament, he used a trick to confuse everybody and got his members to be scattered in parliament. So you wouldn’t know where the government was, where the opposition was.

But Chief Awolowo went there and said no. He told the secretary to the government to go and arrange the parliament according to parties because all this confusion must end today – the Action Group must be apart, the NCNC must be apart. And at that time, the governor was already coming to the assembly. And we refused to go inside. The secretary to the government asked the Ooni of Ife, Adesoji Aderemi; the late Alake of Egbaland, Oba Ademola, to preview Chief Awolowo. And whatever Awolowo said was what we were going to follow. Awolowo told them to go and arrange the parliament according to parties. If you saw photographs of the newspapers of that period, by the time that statement was made, the Action Group was now marching to the parliament. It was led by Chief Awolowo, followed by Akintola and everybody.

When the assembly was made now, the members of the NCNC who had been deceived, thinking that they were in majority, now believed that if they must bring some goodies to their supporters they must be part of the government. It was not when they crossed that made us form the government. Their crossing made us improve the majority that we already had. That is the truth. Any other thing is a lie.

Yorubas are not as united as they used to be. They don’t even have a rallying point any longer…

That is why I say if we want to be honest, we know our problems. We are not as united as before. When Chief Awolowo spoke, you would know the Yorubas had spoken. If Pa Ajasin or Adesanya did, it was the same, but not now. At that time we did not have many opportunists among us.

The second thing is whether AD is different from Afenifere. Look at our members who are now in AC. Are they comfortable there? AC is not different from PDP. That is the truth. AC is PDP number two.

And now they want to fight back on one platform. It was Atiku who was the Vice President when they were rigged out in 2003. It was Audu Ogbeh who was the Chairman of the party at that time. So when they talk I just laugh. People have no self-respect. When did you become friends? Because you now want to be relevant, you now want to use our politician’s money to fight election, so that if they win, if they defeat Obasanjo, they can be relevant. Awolowo didn’t treat people like that. Since Awolowo died, we have consistently been in opposition not because they didn’t offer us positions. Awolowo was offered the position of Deputy Governor-General, he was offered the position of Deputy Prime Minister. There is no harm, during a period of emergency, to form a coalition. It was done in Britain during the war when Atlee led the war. It was done on certain basis. It’s like the government of national unity Yar’Adua is asking for. What is the basis? You chop, I chop? You take one minister, I take one. You are Prime Minister, I am deputy. That is not as it is done. They no longer do politics based on issues. What obtains now is what each person can get. And all those who joined the other government, as I said before, those claiming that the PDP has brought Yoruba people into the mainstream, what have they brought from the mainstream? How can you say they have gained as a result of Ogunlewe being a member of the cabinet? What has that brought to the Yoruba people?

Look at Obasanjo. He was President, yet he did not recognise Ogun as an oil-producing state. His own state for that matter! What has he done for us? Who does not know that there is oil in Ogun State? So what do we say we have gained? I challenge any Yoruba man to come and tell me this is what we have gained from Obasanjo. He relegated a lot of Yoruba in the civil service. Soludo is there, Okonjo-Iweala was there, as was Ezekwesili. Those who handled prominent positions in government were either easterners or northerners and yet the Yoruba man was the head. We are not saying we should deprive them. What we are saying is, give us our entitlements. I have no reason to dislike or hate Obasanjo. I have every reason to be dissatisfied with him that this is not the Nigeria I fought for. And it is not the hopes and aspirations of the Yorubas that he is protecting. Obasanjo has wasted our slot.

Q: Is there anything you people are doing to reconcile the Awo family? When Bola Ige died, Alhaji Jakande made a statement that the Awo family was in disarray. Do you agree with him?

A:It is not when he died. Before he died, we were in disarray. And to my mind, Ige was one of those who caused the disarray. That is not subject for today. That is the truth. People don’t like to hear it. How can I talk of the party being in disarray without linking it to him? Are you going to overlook the crisis he caused, as a result of not being nominated? Are you going to overlook the fact that he joined Obasanjo government against the leadership of the party? Are you going to overlook the fact that it is his (Ige) joining the government of Obasanjo that gave Obasanjo credibility? And the whole nation now saw that there was no opposition because they regarded a prominent polititian, a former leader of the AD, joining the government that they had lost hope in as an abberation. And when I talk about this, it is not personal. This insults me. People say I took such a position because I didn’t like Chief Bola Ige. What am I disputing with late Chief Bola Ige? We don’t come from the same state. There is no record in the party which shows there had ever been a clash between him and myself, either for party post or for government post. Some people are blind to history. You can imagine what force or strength we could have given to the AD. He should have accepted the procedure of his selection rather than joining the government to destroy the house that he helped to build.

Q: How would you react to the accusation that some children of the Afenifere members joined the Obasanjo government?

A: Those who said so are just hypocrites. Obasanjo was shopping for people to support him. In the first place, the person you have in mind is Pa Adesanya’s daughter, Mrs Dupe Adelaja. Adesanya had no hand in that. I am saying it publicly. Obasanjo knew it. And the late Bola Ige knew that he didn’t get the approval of Pa Adesanya for his daughter to be part of Obasanjo’s government. And the day he mentioned it in our caucus, he saw the red eyes of Papa Adesanya. I want anybody to come and dispute this with me. And whether that woman accepted it or not, that is a matter for their family. But I say it, in truth and in honesty, that her father didn’t give the approval.

Q: Even Obasanjo poached from Awo’s immediate family…

A: About Obasanjo using Awolowo’s children as part of his government, they cannot fight. Obasanjo does not like Awo or anybody close to him. I have said it many times. He hates anybody close to Awolowo because he (Obasanjo) wanted to disgrace Chief Awolowo, but God has not made it possible. Awolowo achieved all those feats, for which he is still being celebrated, in seven years. Obasanjo was there for eight years. And Awolowo did not have 10 per cent of the resources that Obasanjo had at his disposal.

There was not one day of strike during Awo’s seven-year rule. Go to the records.

Awolowo was the first to introduce minimum wage in this country. The records are there for you to see. And Obasanjo ruled the country with billions of dollars and nothing to show for it. Zero. The legacies he left are darkness, unemployment, illiteracy, bad health, bad roads.

Q: It has come to the extent of people regarding Governor Gbenga Daniel as the modern day Awo because he constructed a road linking Abeokuta and Sagamu…

A: I cannot say that Gbenga Daniel is an Awoist. He should be commended for what he has done, but he is far away from Awo. It is an exaggeration to compare what Chief Awolowo did in seven years with what Daniel did in one or two years. Because after one or two years in government, people saw him as Awo’s incarnate. He should be commended for trying to do what Awolowo planned. I join in commending him for that. But he is still far away from being an Awo incarnate.

Q: Let’s go back to history. You were one of those who were persecuted during the 60s. And you fled to Ghana. Was there actually a coup being planned?

A: I know you would ask that question. We were fighting an oligarchy at that time. They were using violence against us. That was what brought us together. And in fact, it militated against Awolowo during the elections. The first election we lost in 1959 was not really lost by us. Balewa was declared winner before the last results were announced. We had been having this kind of rigging all along. The type of thing they said then was that the colonialists said they couldn’t have Nkrumah in Ghana and have Awolowo here. And it is still happening.

One thing they discovered was that it was in the Action Group, in the Awolowo school of thought, that you could find people who would say ‘yes’ and that yes would not change till eternity. They said they preferred to work with the NCNC because its members would say yes. The moment you make members of the NCNC ambassadors or ministers, they could do whatever they wanted in government. But it was not so with the Action Group.

What we did then was to toughen our military to be able to face aggression from the centre. That was why we turned to training. I won’t deny that. Just imagine, how can people not in government stage a coup? Did we have the manpower of the people in government, did we have security reports?

We could only prepare for resistance, self-help. There was no doubt that we had some training under Nkrumah for self defence.

Q: Is there a generational gap between the true Awoists and those of the present generation? Are there true Awoists that will take over from you old people?

A: There are some signs in a few of our members now. I think if they continue, they might make it. But I warned them that it is not going to be easy these days when opportunism reigns. Even when our party was in government, I never had any government contracts.

Q: Was it a deliberate policy?

A: Well, it may be a deliberate policy. Now you have to cajole the government of the day to give you. But I was always opposing them, criticising them. So I don’t give them the honour of refusing me an obligation.

Q: This is an opportunity to put the records straight. I want you to speak on the Coker Commission of Inquiry. What actually transpired? Was it that some money was missing at that time?

A: There was none. You should go and read the report. If there was anything, the money they made was what they had in Western and Unity houses. What happened was Chief Awolowo was a clean person. He was not involved in all this 10 per cent for parties. At that time, we were being subsidised by our leaders in the party.

Q: The South-West has been invaded by the PDP. Is there a way that things can be reversed?

A: I don’t know. I don’t want to pass judgment on the tribunals.

Q: What is the secret behind your youthful looks at 80?

A: What I think is responsible is peace of mind. If anybody is knocking on your door, you will not start asking if it could be the State Security Service or OPC?

When we were arrested in 1995 by Abacha, the security people interviewed us. I told one of them that Abiola is not my cup of tea. The man asked what I meant by that. The main cause of our support for Abiola was that 14 million people voted for him and one man said no. And we said no, it can’t happen. If the man had been an Abdulkadir or Onyeachi, the same thing would have happened. It is a matter of principle. As a matter of fact, Abiola had done more harm to us than he did to him (Abacha). I know he was one of those who impeded Chief Awolowo from being the president.

The security man opened his mouth wide. What Awolowo taught us was that anywhere you see anything good, stand by it. Most of you must have heard about Abdulrahman Shugaba. Shugaba was not a member of our party, but we fought his cause. The Great Nigeria Peoples Party, GNPP, to which he belonged, deserted him. We fought his cause and he was brought back.


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One Response to “AC Not Different From PDP”

  1. olufunsho omowole says:

    your story about chief ayo adebanjo was a unique piece i have been trying to get in touch with him for years my name is olufunsho omowole presently based in new york i met him and the late chief awolowo during their campaign trip to geidam borno state a very loyal helpful man may god bless that man i hahe been trying to get his office number for years but no luck please help i can be contacted on this number 1917 655 2978

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