Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, were reported to have met recently in the home of Pa Ayo Adebanjo to reconcile and settle their 15-year-old rift.
But in his reaction, Obasanjo said there was no question of reconciliation because he had no quarrel with Aare Adams that would have warranted reconciliation.
Refuting the reconciliation, Obasanjo said he had no quarrel with Gani Adams but for his past way of life which was not in accord with his standards and principles and that he (Obasanjo) had in the past, both in government and out of it refused to grant Gani Adams’ request to visit him.
In an attempt to set the records straight however, the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, in this interaction, fired back at the former President and told his own side of the story. He also bares his mind on the insecurity in the region and the agitation for restructuring. Excerpts:
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo issued a statement and spoke about your purported reconciliation. How do you react to this?
I think Obasanjo has the right to say there was no reconciliation on that day, but the only thing I do not like in that statement is someone condemning my character. I don’t know what Obasanjo meant by my past way of life. But all I know is that we don’t have the same character because I know Obasanjo is not a progressive element, either when he was in office and out of office, so we cannot share the same character. So, I can’t be in accord with someone who is not a progressive. So, when he said he does not like my character, President Obasanjo will not like the character of a progressive Nigerian.
Secondly, talking about the issue of reconciliation, I’ve never requested any visit to his house. I don’t know where the information came from that I requested to meet him twice and he rejected it. I have never requested to meet Obasanjo, the meeting that was held at the home of Pa Adebanjo, was at the request of Pa Adebanjo.
Initially, I refused but Pa Adebanjo is one of those people I respect most in Yoruba land, and I had no option than to oblige him. We met, we had a discussion, and I was so shocked when the statement came out. Ordinarily, I would not have reacted, but for Obasanjo to talk about my character in a negative way, because it may affect me and my family. The only thing I have in my life is my name, I don’t toy with it and I don’t want anybody to assassinate my character. I agree, we don’t share the same character of being progressive because he is not a progressive person.
If that meeting was not about reconciliation, was it about the 2023 elections?
No, it was not about the 2023 election, we talked about the state of the nation.
In the statement, Obasanjo suggested that if you want any reconciliation, you should come down to Abeokuta.
I will never go to his house. Assuming he did not talk about my character, I could consider going to meet him. Someone you do not like his character, you will not welcome that person to your house anymore. He has already said that he doesn’t like my character, so why should I go to his house. Though his press secretary called me the next day, trying to defend that statement and I told him that such a statement would not help the unity of Yoruba land. He asked me when I was coming to visit Baba (Obasanjo), and I told him to forget about it. I will never visit him for reconciliation and if I go, my guardian angel will be annoyed with me. So, forget about that.
When you said Obasanjo was not a progressive person in nature, how do you prove that the former president, who is a Yoruba man, is not a progressive leader?
You ask yourself which progressive organisation he (Obasanjo) belongs to. From his antecedent, tell me any credible organisation he has belongs to. He has never been a member of any progressive organisation.
But some people argue that the former president always has Nigeria at heart. Don’t you believe this?
He is just looking for political space. When Obasanjo is not allowed to have any influence in any government, he will be opposed to that government. That is his mission. If he cannot control the president, he will be the enemy of that president.
The Deputy Senate President stated that those who are calling for a new constitution should jettison the idea. How do you react to that?
The statement from the Deputy Senate President has justified our position that no good thing can come out from this constitutional review from the parliament.
And he has given us a position that we should continue agitating for true federalism instead of wasting our time to send a memorandum to the parliament because what Nigeria needs most now is a new constitution for true federalism. It’s not even a constitutional amendment and I give kudos to the Deputy Senate President for saying the truth early enough so that Nigerians will not continue to waste their time by engaging in intellectual exercise on the ongoing constitution review.
And for Nigeria to move forward, we have to go back to true Federalism, how we got our independence in 1960 and how we agreed on Republican Constitution in 1963. It is very important. Anything short of that, I don’t believe this nation can survive the next three years. So if each of the regions generates N100, it should give N20 or N25 to the federal because there is no way we can continue the way we are, and we would have a 24-hour uninterrupted power supply.
I think the Federal Government should allow regions to control their electricity and their rail transport, which is the cheapest in the world but in Nigerian mentality now, it is the costliest apart from the air transport. It is so sad; I think the Minister of Transportation should review the cost downward.
At the same time, the Federal Government shouldn’t have a ministry of water resources, what are they doing with the ministry of water resources? It should be the responsibility of the regions and states.
And on the issue of security, in Nigeria with a population of 200 million and the geographical spread of 1000 square kilometers, I believe we should have three or four layers of police – federal police, regional police, state police and the local government police. There is no way we can continue with one structure of police and we would have a very good security system in Nigeria because all crimes are local.
Chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said Boko Haram insurgents, who are fleeing the north, are now coming to the south west to kidnap people. What is your response to it?
The governor is right, but it goes beyond the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland because the governors are the chief security officers of their states. The constitution did not empower any individual or any organisation to dabble into security without the approval of the Inspector General of Police or the governors. So, the issue on ground is about restructuring policing in the country.
Amotekun should be upgraded to state police. I believe for Amotekun to be more effective, we still need state police, regional police, and local government police. Creating Amotekun is just like someone who has typhoid and you are using paracetamol to subdue the fever. Don’t forget that the allocation for the outfit is not even enough to run each state.
It will be very difficult for them to recruit about 10,000 men for a state. Oyo state recruited about 1,500 which is the highest in the southwest.