Fasanmi, factional leader, threatens on Afenifere crisis : I

No Comments » December 7th, 2008 posted by // Categories: Yoruba Affairs



 

VANGUARD

Fasanmi, factional leader, threatens on Afenifere crisis : I’ll expose the hidden things!
Written by GBENGA OLARINOYE   

Sunday, 07 December 2008

 

When the phone call from Dayo Benson,  Sunday Vanguard deputy editor, came, penultimate Tuesday, that I should interview the factional leader of Afenifere, Senator Ayo Fasanmi, one question ran through my mind: Will a man, who is over 83, be in a sound state of mind to grant an interview on an issue that is contentious without a notice? But the question vanished immediately I entered his house and met him sitting with his heartrob of over 53 years. After explaining my mission to the house, and the old man’s initial resistance, he said “well, I cannot deny you the interview.”

Fasanmi spoke on Afenifere and various national issues, including the eight years rule of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the travails of former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as allegations of fraud  rocking the leadership of the House of Representatives. Excerpts:


HOW will you compare the  current political situation  in the country with the situation in your days at both the House of Representatives and the Senate?

We believed in service to the people during our own time in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Senate in the second republic under the leadership of late Senator Abraham Adesanya was very strong and formidable, it was not that there was no corruption then, but it was very minimal, it is not as pronounced as it is now. 

Corruption is now the order of the day in Nigeria, especially amongst the political office holders. Every system in Nigeria is corrupt, from the executive to the legislature and the judiciary; there is corruption all over the place. They steal billions as if they are stealing kobo.


Corruption everywhere

Look at an ordinary councillor who had no single house before he got to power, he has two houses before leaving office. There is corruption everywhere. You find a boy who is a councillor now distributing motorcycles as gifts to people. Why? Awolowo, our political mentor, did not distribute any of these things.

 

Senator Ayo Fasanmi

Awolowo gave to people what they needed, he provided free health service, free education, and constructed roads and immortalized his name. The name of Awolowo has now become a household name. Our people don’t need all these gifts, what they need is what will sustain them. All that the people need is a system that will give sound and qualitative education, not a system that will produce semi-illiterates like the current system.

 

The bottom line is that the electoral system is so fraudulent. Fraudulent system cannot produce anything good. Fraud will always produce fraud and goodness will produce goodness. I am not surprised about what we are experiencing in the country today because the system that brought in our leaders was fraudulent and we are now reaping the reward of fraud.

What is your reaction to the emergence of Pa Reuben Fasoranti as the leader of Afenifere?
Many people have asked me this question and what I have been telling them is that I will need to consult my political constituency before I make any comment on that very vital and sensitive issue. I must consult my friends who are stakeholders in the project known and called Afenifere and I must also consult the young ones in Afenifere who, for the first time in the history of Yoruba nation, organized Yoruba convention in Ibadan, last year, where the people operating under Afenifere Renewal Group, and  made up of credible young Nigerians with credible credentials.

I want to talk to many of them before I make comments. I’ve read in the newspapers the communiqué that emanated from the meeting which they held in Ijebu-Igbo recently. Bisi Akande once said that the young ones must be allowed to grow. In an age where Barack Obama, who is just 47, is not only going to rule America but the whole world, then there must be something to it. The man who will lead America and the whole world for the next four years is just 47.

You must also remember that when Awolowo founded Afenifere, he was in his 40s. When Bode Thomas, who was Awolowo’s deputy, died in 1953, he was only 34. If Bode Thomas is alive, he will be in his 80s now. When Akinfusile and Kola Balogun were federal ministers in the first republic, they were in their 30s.

So, I want to see a situation where we give the young ones the chance to prove their mantle. This is not to say that the old ones like me should be written off. There should be a symbiotic relationship between us, that is the old and young ones should relate together. The old ones are experienced while the young ones are strong, energetic, vibrant and dynamic.

What the elderly ones cannot do, they can do, they can move around, but the elderly ones have what we call professional experience and experience matters in life.

There is a Yoruba proverb that says Owo omode koto pepe, ti agbalagba kowo kengbe, that proverb should be our watchword in Afenifere; both the young and old need to work together for the progress of the Yoruba race. There are many things which the young ones can do that we cannot do and there are so many things that only the elderly ones can do.

The young ones must be given a chance. There must be a sort of understanding between us, because people like Ayo Adebanjo, Fasoranti and I should not be shown the way out because we want the  young ones to function.

The Fasoranti group has denounced Mr. Odumakin as the spokesperson of Afenifere, arguing that he does not represent the interest of the Afenifere. What is your comment on this?
I am going to make a comprehensive statement when I’m through with my consultations. A situation where people like Odumakin should be rejected by a group is very unfortunate. In Afenifere Renewal Group, we have people like Wale Oshun, Ayo Afolabi and Jimi Agbaje, these are vibrant men.

There is clamor that Afenifere should not be a political organization but a socio-cultural organization that will welcome members of all political parties. Do you subscribe to this view? 

You will remember that Jimi Agbaje once contested the governorship election in Lagos State under the Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA). The leader of DPA, Olu Falae, is on the other side and Agbaje is one of us. The present situation deserves a critical analysis of every one of us.

On whether we must be a  political organization or not,   we must take a cue  from what happened when Afenifere was under the indomitable leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. During the first republic, all members of the Action Group were members of the Afenifere and during the second republic, all members of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) were members of the Afenifere.

Could you trace the division in the Yoruba nation to the first republic when Chief Awolowo was the leader of Afenifere?
In the first republic, there were 47 members of the AG and NCNC had 34. To say that the Yoruba has always been in one melting pot is an understatement. Even, as I am talking to you, the group that met in Ijebu-Igbo has DPA and AD members. I wonder if we have any AC member in the group. We also need to ask why the AD, under Akinfenwa, has only one member in the 36 Houses of Assembly in the country and DPA has none.

If you are going to form an organization, should members be in a minority political party? Afenifere is not dead. Anybody that thinks that Afenifere is dead or dying is making a mistake. Those who believe in Afenifere know that the project called  Afenifere is not dying and it cannot die. It is not possible for the Afenifere that Awolowo founded to die. Before you join any group, you must believe in its credo. Afenifere is not an all-comer thing.

What is the way forward for the Yorubas?
We will come together at the end of the day. The way forward is for the Yorubas to be united and forget the past. An end must come to all hatred. The progressive elements in this country must come together on the basis of principles and not on the basis of money; not on the basis of what I can gain but on the basis of what I can really contribute.

For instance, how can you say a man that won an election through rigging is the kind of leader the Yoruba want? A man who cannot rely on his people for his electoral victory but relies on malpractices cannot be a Yoruba leader. These are the things you have to consider.

In your reasoning, what brought about the division in Afenifere, because there was no division during Awolowo’s time?
Ambition. The ambition on the part of the leaders  brought about the division in Yoruba nation. I mean personal ambitions of the people, their ambition to become what they are not destined to become caused division which we are experiencing today. May God save us.

Are you satisfied with the emergence of Pa Fasoranti as Afenifere leader?
You will hear from me at the end of my consultations.
Is the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) a credible organization that can lead the Yoruba race and can Afenifere work with YCE?
It’s only General Adebayo that can answer that question. Adebayo is the current leader of the YCE, so, Adebayo is in the best position to answer the question. Though he’s a good friend of mine, I cannot answer the question for him.

The Afenifere and YCE can work together in the interest of the Yoruba race. If it is in the interest of Yoruba nation, Afenifere can definitely work with the YCE. Afenifere can work together with any group in the interest of the Yoruba nation even if the groups are not made up of progressive minded people.
There must be a realignment of progressive forces in this country. I have a good number of friends on the other side. Some people have been trying to broker peace between Fasoranti and I. But, for reasons which are known to the two of us, the peace moves have always hit the rock. I want to assure you that, very soon, I shall expose the hidden things that have not really made us to join forces together.

What do you have to say on the way Obasanjo led the country for  eight years, especially the way he treated the Yorubas?
Have you read the book The Animal Called Man? If you read the book written by Obasanjo, you will find the answer to that question. Who is the animal? Who is the man? Who was Obasanjo referring to in that book?

Obasanjo caused all the troubles in Yoruba land, all in his quest for leadership. He caused the problems. Obasanjo instituted an anti-corruption agency but Nigeria is still corrupt, more corrupt than it was before 1999. Obasanjo is the man who caused the predicaments in Yoruba nation. He’s behind our problem and crisis.

What is your reaction on the current travails of Mr. Nuhu Ribadu?
I have said it that the beautiful ones are not yet born. It is unfortunate that a man like Ribadu should be frustrated in this country. How can a man who completed a course be denied his certificate? This country needs the favour of God. Corruption is now the order of the day in Nigeria.

The allegations levelled against the speaker, House of Representatives have become a global thing. What is your view on it?
All that I know about the N2.3 billion car saga in the House of Representatives is that corruption is still in  the House. I was in the House of Representatives in the first republic and there was no crisis. Now, a councillor is building houses. But then, we were not given money anyhow. May God save Nigeria.

When time comes and you are privileged to meet Chief Obafemi Awolowo, what will you tell him?
Unfortunately, I have asked my wife to learn how to be a widow. I will tell Awolowo that, ‘Baba, I did my best on earth but Nigerians are terrible people who are difficult to direct.’ I have been in the game of politics for many years, but what we are experiencing now is terrible. I will tell Chief Awolowo that Nigeria is a failed nation. I will tell Chief Awolowo that ‘those of us that are your children who you left behind have disappointed you’.

I will tell him that the leaders of Nigeria have bastardized all his policies. I will tell him that Nigeria is a sick nation and it needs revival. I will tell him that the baby he left behind is still crawling. I will pray God to help us in the future of this country.

The only people that can save this country are our youths. Nigeria is not the same country it was in the days of Awolowo. The roads are bad, there is unemployment, and there is poverty in the land. I will tell Awolowo that I did my best with other progressives but our efforts could not change the situation of things in the country.

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