Connect with us


Yoruba Summit: Raising the bar of restructuring call



The call for restructuring of Nigeria is not new, but the Yoruba summit held last Thursday in Ibadan, Oyo State, perhaps gave a fresh narrative to the clamour. WALE ELEGBEDE reports on how the zone reached a consensus on return to regionalism


If there is any discourse that has permeated the nation’s political system, it is the call for the restructuring of Nigeria’s economic and political system. In the light of this, several individuals, ethnic groups, political parties and organisations, have joined the fray to put pressure on the government of the day to restructure the country and by extension, create a new, acceptable constitution.
It was against this backdrop that the Yoruba people of the South-West extraction gathered last week Thursday in the ancient city of Ibadan, precisely at the main bowl of the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, for what was tagged the ‘Yoruba Summit’ to deliberate on the restructuring agenda and proclaim its unified standpoint on the conversation.

Opening the lid
The journey that heralded the process of the Ibadan Summit started on August 20 in Lagos when the conveners of the parley held a press conference to explain the route the summit will take.
According to the Chairman, Organising Committee for the Grand Rally, Dr. Kunle Olajide, who addressed the pre-summit media parley, the Yoruba nation would take a crucial decision that would affect the future of Nigeria at the Ibadan summit.
Preparing the mind of the nation ahead of the summit, Olajide, a former Secretary of Yoruba Council of Elders, said over 100 Yoruba groups have chosen the date to make their position known on the agitation, adding that the summit has the backing of the six governors in the zone.
Notable Yoruba leaders at the press conference include Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Prof. Banji Akintoye, Dr. Amos Akingba, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, among others.

The D-day
The city of Ibadan experienced a heavy downpour on the day of the summit, but that did not deter participants from trooping to the main bowl of the stadium. Expectedly, adequate security was on hand to protect the lives and properties of the participants at the parley. Due to the traffic of people heading to the stadium, there was vehicular gridlock around the Mokola area, thereby giving traffic wardens a hectic time.

A carnival-like atmosphere
Before, during and after the summit, commercial talking drummers were on hand to breathe life to the event. Moving in two’s and three’s, they sang praises of dignitaries to high heavens, while some doled out few Naira’s to them, others chose to ignore their presence. Similarly, the Igbo cultural dancers were also in full force at the gathering and their presence was conspicuous.
Aside the general banners and inscriptions by the organizers, other groups dorning various T-shirts and uniform clothing, brandished their banners within the stadium to express their stance on the restructuring movement. Some of the inscriptions on the banners read: “Say No to Nigeria, Yes to Oduduwa Republic”, “Believe in Oduduwa Republic Now”, “Oduduwa Republic Now”, “Restructuring too late, Oduduwa Republic Now”, Oduduwa Republic Now, we support”, “Yoruba Liberation Command Stands for Oduduwa Republic”, “Oduduwa Republic not negotiable”, “Our Land, Our Blood, Oduduwa Republic Now”, Enough of cheating, enough of being second class citizens in our land, declare Oduduwa Republic”, British Created Nigeria, God creates Oduduwa Republic, Oduduwa Republic Now.” among others.

Notable absentees
Regardless of the array of notable Yoruba sons and daughters present at the summit, former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu, is the first of the absentees conspicuously noticed at the gathering. Also, National Assembly members and ministers from the zone were not present in sight at the summit. Out of the six governors in the zone, only the Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, was present. The governors of Osun, Oyo, Ogun and Ondo sent representatives who delivered their addresses to the gathering but the Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, wasn’t in attendance and didn’t send any representative.
According to Olajide, the chairman of the summit planning committee, the Oyo State governor, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi, gave permission for the usage of the stadium for the summit at no cost.

The OPC scuffle
Whilst the summit was in session, factions of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), congregated outside to settle some scores. It was gathered that in the fisticuff, one person was alleged to have been killed and many were left seriously injured. Incidentally, the leaders of the two warring factions, Dr Fredrick Fasheun and Otunba Gani Adams, were both present in the main bowl while their supporters were squaring it up. Some vehicles were also destroyed outside the stadium and it took the intervention of policemen to stop a faction of the group from burning a Golf car with the registration number, Lagos JJJ 784 AS.

The roll call
Notable among dignitaries at the summit include the Ooni of Ife, Oba Eniitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi II; President General, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo; Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose; former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko; former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae; Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti; Chief Ayo Adebanjo; former Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Chief Albert Horsfall; Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu; former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode; former deputy governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor and former deputy governor of Ogun State, Senator Gbenga Kaka.
Also at the summit were the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC),

National Coordinator, Otunba Gani Adams; chairman of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Chief Idowu Sofola; Senator Iyiola Omisore; Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu, Senator Mojisola Akinfenwa; Dr. Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan; Col. Tony Nyiam ( rtd ); Chief Supo Shonibare, Mr. Wale Oshun; Senator Ike Nwachukwu; Professor Tunde Adeniran, and Orangun of Ila, Oba Wahab Oyedokun.
Others at the event were Oba Lekan Balogun, Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland; Oba Latifu Adebimpe, Ashipa Balogun of Ibadanland; Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi who was represented by Bashorun of Oyo, High Chief Yusuf Ayoola, Mr. Babatunde Oduyoye; Dr. Yemi Farohunmbi; Dr. Olatokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu, daughter of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo; Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), among others.

The organising team
Among the organising committee were: Chairman, Kunle Olajide, Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, Oba Adedapo Popoola, Mrs. Abimbola Oguntunde, Adeniji Sheriff, Aluko Alafe, Ayo Afolabi, Bolaji Ogunseye, David Atteh, Mrs. Doherty, Dominic Adegbola, Dotun Hassan, Mrs. Dupe Adelaja, Femi Adefila, Folu Olamiti, Kunle Famoriyo, Muyiwa Olaipo, Oladipo Olaitan, Olayemi Omisore, Olufemi Adegoke, Otunba Ayodeji Oshinbogun, Samuel Oloyede, Segun Balogun, Sesan Ekisola, Simon Daramola, Sola Lawal, Supo Shonibare, Tanimowo Babajide,Tokunbo Ajasin, Mrs. Tokunbo Sholu-Ekukinam, Tunde Amusat, Tunji Bello, Willy Thomas, and Wole Agboluaje.

The message
With opening prayers from the retired Archbishop of Methodist Church of Nigeria, Ayo Ladigbolu and former deputy governor of Ogun State, Senator Gbenga Kaka, the ball was set rolling for the summit. Opening the floor for views and addresses, the organizing committee chairman of the summit, Olajide, said in his welcome address that the summit was out, “to do an honest review of our past, frank appraisal of the present and a telescopic view of our future.”
While stating that the gathering has no political leaning or influence, Olajide noted that the summit was a coalition of Yoruba interest groups who are committed to championing the birth of a new Nigeria.
He stressed about the gathering that, “It’s a summit of the brightest and best in Yorubaland, political leaders of all ideological persuasion, academia, labour leaders, students, artisans, market women, and essentially, the proletarians. We are determined to move Nigeria from this consumption mode to a productive mode. We are here gathered to begin the process that will put a halt to this drifting”.

Nigeria won’t break up- Afe Babalola
For legal luminary, Aare Babalola, the summit is not aimed at decapitating the country, but a move to ensure that the country is restructured so that over-concentration of power in the centre , corruption and marginalization would be addressed.
Babalola , who is the chairman of the summit, said, “the agitation for secession is an ill-wind that does no good. No matter the motive of the conveners of the Berlin Conference, we have lived together for over 100 years, having been married by fiat of the Europeans. It is better to dialogue and restructure the country. No woman wants a dissolution of a marriage if the parties live in comfort and are prosperous. It is incumbent on the leaders to make the country so prosperous that nobody would agitate for recession.
“It is restructuring that would curb over concentration of power in the centre and reduce corruption, promote harmony and unity and make the country metamorphose into a nation”, he said.

My father stood for true federalism- Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu
For the daughter of the late Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the summit is in sync with the stance of his father, stating that the sage believed that only a federal constitution can foster unity with concord among the diverse national groups in the country, adding that, “Chief Awolowo had been an avowed federalist from 1933 (when he was just 24 years old), and until he drew his last breath in 1987, he never recanted,”
She noted further that said: “There is absolutely nothing in the campaign for restructuring or federalism or devolution of powers that portend any form of negative outcomes for our other compatriots or, indeed, for Nigeria.”

We are in sync with Yoruba on restructuring- Nwodo, Ohanaeze Ndigbo President
Speaking at the summit, the President-General of Ohanaeze, Chief John Nwodo who led a high powered delegation of South East which include a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Ike Nwachukwu, and former Minister of Information, Dr. Walter Ofonagoro, among others, to the summit, said Nigerians, especially, people in the Southern part, was being ruled by a set of document they were not party to.
“I am here with a large delegation to emphasise the Igbo solidarity with this occasion. What is happening today shows that democracy has begun to grow in Nigeria. Since 1963, the people of Nigeria have never been allowed to write a constitution that will determine the way they are ruled.
“Is it wrong to have a say in your country? Is it right to be ruled by a document that you are not party to? What we are saying today is that the people of Nigeria must have a say in the way they are governed. It is not only the Yoruba that are saying it, we the Igbo are saying it loud and clear. Many people have tried to destroy restructuring by saying that it is a ploy by Southern Nigeria to monopolise the God-given mineral resources in the area. Those who are doing this do not love Nigeria.
“Education knows no boundaries, I was taught by Yoruba professors and today, I can mimic the Yoruba intellectual powers. I drank from the water and if that is so, every area in Nigeria that has relative advantage will export its advantage to the rest of Nigeria. I want to tell you that we support your motion for restructuring of Nigeria,” said Nwodo.

Ooni’s royal appeal
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, who led other traditional rulers to the summit, sued for peace amid agitation for restructuring, warning against selfish motives.
He urged the elders of the Yoruba race to be honest and place the future of the youths ahead of every consideration. He said it was the only way to preserve and strengthen the Yoruba race.
The revered monarch said: “The Yoruba leaders are here today and I thank them for this. My appeal is that we should all approach restructuring with honesty. We should separate politics from it because of the future of our youths. Out of ten people in Nigeria, seven are in the youth brackets. We should be firm in our pursuit and let peace reign in our agitation.

Resource Control, way to go- Horsfall
Speaking on behalf of the South-South zone, a former State Security Service chief, Chief Albert Horsfall, said the region, he represents, believes in restructuring which must first take effect on the control of resources by states that own the resources.
His words: “We of the SouthSouth have for several years run the economy of this country; we provided the engine room that runs Nigeria yet we are still expecting to have a a priviledge to run our own affairs. We do not want federation based on unitary system. We are not mad; we are agitating for our rights.”
“We believe in Nigeria but we do not want a federation in unitary system; somebody produces something, somebody, because of a population that is claimed and not proven, tells you what to do with your resources. During the civil war, we produced the man power, the leg work, the fighting force that kept the country together, therefore, I plead with you, restructuring should start with the South-South. Civilization came to this country from the shores of South South. Restructuring must start from the South South. What we understand by restructuring is that you provide your resources and control it.”

Fayose hits Yoruba elders
Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose accused Yoruba elders of being the major problem of the Yoruba nation, stating that there was no unity of purpose among the Yoruba elders.
He said, “He said, “I can only tell the truth in a forum like this. People can only discard my voice, but they cannot throw me away. Our forefathers in Yoruba land tried their best, but the present Yoruba elders are our problem. This is our fathers’ land and they must defend it.
“We have had great meetings like this that was held in the past and which were attended by Yoruba elder, but after the meetings, the so-called elders would approach the media and said we do not need restructuring. This does not make any sense. The war against Yoruba land is from within. We have selfish elders of the land. Through the period when one of our elders ruled Nigeria, he never deemed it fit to honour Chief MKO Abiola, who died fighting the cause of the Yoruba people.
“We are fighting for a just cause, but this man will appear on the television and say restructuring is not the way. He put us in the position we are today. In the Bible, Jonah was thrown into the sea because he was perceived as the problem of the ship he was travelling in. By His grace, all Yoruba enemies will be thrown into the sea. Many do not understand restructuring. We are already in slavery. Awolowo was put in jail because he told the truth, but anyone that is against me will not have peace.”

The Communiqué
After an exhaustive deliberation, the Summit, which is by far the largest gathering of Yoruba people from the six south-west states, Kogi and Kwara states, noted in a communiqué, which is now tagged, the ‘Ibadan Declaration’, outlined 16 points as the outcome of the one-day summit. The motion for the adoption of the Communique was moved Chief Niyi Akintola and jointly signed by Chief Babalola, who was the chairman of the occasion, and Dr. Olajide .
The Yoruba leaders unanimously agreed that Nigeria must return to a proper federation as obtained in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions, noting that this has been the position of the race since 1950 Ibadan conference and developments in Nigeria over the last fifty years.
They also called for the restructuring of the country in line with regionalism, saying that Nigeria shall be a federation comprising six regions and the federal capital Territory, Abuja.
Clearly, the Yoruba people through the consensus reached at the one-day summit has been able to raise the bar of the restructuring challenge, it is only left to be seen what becomes of their stand point

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply


Bagudu’s initiative has revolutionised agric sector – Kebbi SSG



Secretary to the Kebbi State Government (SSG), Alhaji Babale Umar, speaks in this interview with Ahmed Idris on the revolution in rice farming in the state


How would you assess the three years of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government in Kebbi State?


Senator Atiku Bagudu, who is the 4th executive governor of Kebbi State, is a visionary leader whose preoccupation is to make things better. Indeed, when he assumed office, his penchant for reengineering and revitalization of the state took him to all the 21 local government areas and interacted with his people. He visited schools, health institutions and met with the farmers in their farms to assess the challenges been face in the different sectors.


What he saw in the schools were appalling. From the students’ hostels, classrooms, laboratories and even the food served was dehumanizing. The governor also accorded priority to the power sector because the epileptic power supply in the state then pitched the people against the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) because it strangled small scale businesses. But the story is different today as the state capital is enjoying regular power.


He has also addressed the issue of infrastructure. Today, all schools in the state are undergoing proper rehabilitation and furniture, computers and sports equipment have been provided for conducive learning and teaching.


To further ensure good and sound education in the state, the governor joined his counterparts in Sokoto and Zamfara states in setting-up a committee of eminent scholars led by Prof. Attahiru Jega, which recommended the establishment of Ministry of Higher Education. This led to the creation of Ministry of Higher Education in Kebbi State to take care of tertiary education.


The governor has continued with all road projects started by previous administration as exemplified by the on-going major construction of urban roads in the state capital hitherto neglected by previous regimes.


Meanwhile, new roads have been constructed to bring succor to residents, especially Aliero Quarters and Bayan-Kara areas. So, Governor Bagudu is a politician endowed with wisdom and who cherishes collective decision in the course of governance.


What about the health sector, what is the government doing to improve health institutions in the state?


Worried by the state of facilities in the general hospitals and concerned about the health and well-being of the people, Governor Bagudu has made concerted efforts to improve on facilities and personnel.


The main aim of the interventions is to reverse the ugly health indices bedeviling the state through conscious harmonization of interventions and partnership. Indeed, one bold step taken by this administration is putting in place of mechanism for actualizing the policy of healthcare under one roof.



The administration has deployed mobile health teams with support from the European Union and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to deliver services such as treatment of minor ailments, immunization, birth registration and health promotion to strengthen community linkages and uptake of integrated PHC services through outreaches to 225 hard to reach settlements as part of the state governments’ commitment towards achieving Universal Health Coverage of the Federal Government.


As part of its commitment to women and children’s health, state government sponsored free cancer screening activities as well as engaged America doctors for free treatment across the state. It also facilitated the accreditation exercise for the upgrading of the School of Health Technology, Jega, to a College of Health Sciences through the procurement of the needed facilities.


In an effort to bring health care service delivery closer to the people, the government renovated the maternity ward, labour room and the ANC unit at the Argungu General Hospital and also paid its counterpart funding for Measles, Cerebrospinal Meningitis, Maternal Newborn and Child Health Week and EU- UNICEF MNCH programme in the state.


The administration has also fulfilled the criteria set by the World Bank to access $1.5 million grant for saving One Million lives programme as well as the lunching and distribution of EU -MNCH drugs and commodities to herald the commencement of the intervention.


Kebbi State is now the leading state in agriculture. How was it able to achieve this feat?


Being a state blessed with many agricultural and agro allied potentialities, Governor Bagudu saw an opening to positively impact on the sector and put smiles on the faces of both large and small scale farmers. He came up with strategies to provide inputs and expertise as well as invite agencies and companies to partner for the overall development of the sector. For turning Kebbi to the largest rice producing state in Nigeria, the governor was aptly appointed Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Rise and Wheat Production.


The governor initiated an agricultural revitalization, transformation and diversification drive through partnership with the Bank of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The sustained effort to develop the agricultural sector has attracted investors from far and near. Kebbii State has become a model and a hub in rice and wheat production and sales that attract the attention of many individuals, companies and states across the country.


A landmark is the partnership between Lagos and Kebbi states on rice value chain, which produced the LASKEB. And with the pre-commissioning of WACOT Mill recently, the investment effort of the governor has placed Kebbi second only to Kano in rice milling in the whole of the North-West.



To consolidate on the gains recorded in dry season rice farming and improve output in wet season, Governor Bagudu entered into partnership with Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Zamfara states and the Moroccan government to receive the supply over 300,000 tons of fertilizer.



The administration also procured for distribution to famers, 100 tractors, 1,000 Oxdrawn ploughs, 100 rice threshers and 100 motorcycles for agricultural extension workers.



The agricultural transformation drive for income and job creation led the state government to empower several vegetable growing communities to produce more to meet the Kebbi- Lagos Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and also encouraged more than 20,000 farmers to produce soya beans, a potential the state has not harnessed. The administration is encouraging livestock production.


The Ministry of Animal Health has spent about N21 million on vaccines to guard against the spread of Anthrax and hemorrhagic septicemia to the state. The ministry has also constructed a modern artificial insemination center and procured essential equipment.


To improve provide market to fishermen in the state, the government constructed an international fish market in Yauri Local Government Area and also rehabilitated the Birnin Kebbi main abattoir, while a grant of N28 million was given to the ministry to establish and manage modern fish ponds across the state to encourage fish farming.



What has the government done to revamp the education sector in the state?


Repositioning of the sector has been the main concern of the governor. In fact, primary, secondary and tertiary Intuitions were the first places he visited upon assumption of duty. His assessment gave birth to a robust master plan for a complete overhaul of the sector.


Accordingly, he mobilized professionals from the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, to review educational development in Kebbi State and provide expert advice with a view to taking appropriate steps to promoting education in all ramifications.



This led to the establishment of the Ministry of Higher Education to coordinate the operations of tertiary education in the state. A blue print was developed for the ministry to cater for vocational and technical needs of students in the state, in addition to the payment of WAEC, NECO, Arabic and NABTEB examination fees for all JSS three students.


More than N4 billion was also spent by the administration for the renovation of schools, provision of furniture as well as training and retraining of secondary school teachers to enhance their performance. Additional classrooms were constructed and there was renovation of schools across the state as well as provision of furniture and instructional materials.


The sum of N5.2 billion was approved for the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) for the rehabilitation of 25 junior secondary and primary schools.


Another N100 million was also released fur the purchase of tables and chairs for pupils and students in line with the administration’s resolve to provide conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning. The state government also released N145 million for the construction of a 500- capacity female hostel at the Adamu Augie College of Education, Argungu.


The administration also ensured the payment of tuition fees and other charges for government sponsored students in various tertiary institutions at home and abroad.


How has the state government been able to tackle security issues in the state, especially those arising from herdsmen/farmers clashes?


To ensure security of lives and property of all citizens in the state, the Bagudu administration participated in a joint security operation covering the Kamuku/ Kuyambana forest involving seven states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Niger and Katsina. In an operation code name ‘’Operation Sharan Daji” involving the Nigeria Army, Police, Air Force and other security operatives in a combine operation that rid the state of cattle rustlers and halted criminal activities like kidnapping.



Through operation Sharan Daji, a number of cattle were recovered and returned to the owners with hundreds of suspected criminals arrested and cache of arms and ammunition retrieved. On the issue of Kidnapping, especially in Kebbi South Senatorial District, the present administration has through the efforts of security operatives tackled the menace.


Today, farmers in the area go about their businesses without any fear.


Realizing the importance or peace to the development and progress of the state, the administration of Governor Bagudu has resolved the age long border dispute between Benin Republic and communities in Kebbi State and also wadded into herdsmen/ farmers disputes across the state by identifying and institutionalizing the old cattle routes and grazing reserves.

Continue Reading


APC’s support for restructuring, height of deception – Makarfi



Makarfi: PDP not threatened by third force, Obasanjo’s coalition

Senator Ahmed Makarfi is the former Chairman, National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The former Governor of Kaduna State, here, speaks on the state of the nation and his party’s readiness for the 2019 general elections, restructuring and insecurity, among others issues. TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE reports


The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was enmeshed in crisis ahead of its National Convention and there were still some skirmishes after the December convention. Can you tell us the progress the party has made so far?

Well, not many people gave us a chance before the convention. Many thought the party was going scatter from the Eagle Square, but that did not happen. But that does not mean there was no fall-out of the convention. After any convention, there must be issues arising from the conduct of such exercise. So, it is not different that PDP has some minor issues after the convention, but it is gladdening that the party remains solid, remains united and one.


Before the convention, we anticipated that some issues may arise, that was why we set up the reconciliation committee, which moved to work immediately after the convention. The current leadership also set up other two committees which consist of the Seriake Dickson committee and the other one led by former principal officers of the National Assembly to reach out to the aggrieved and to bring them back on board and to integrate them in a bid to provide a united front.


To also provide a strong and virile opposition to the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is in power, we have covered a lot of grounds, but that does not mean to say there are still no issues, but I am not in a position to know what those outstanding issues are because I am not the national chairman of the party now. I have left as chairman, but I continue to give advice in areas, where I am needed and I am also handling issues I can handle on my own just to bring unity into the party without necessarily having recourse to the current leadership.


The current leadership has been meeting with relevant organs of the party, the governors, National Assembly members, former governors, former ministers, formal and non-formal organs of the party in order to forge the way forward for the party. So, I am sure the party is set and working so hard to be a virile opposition.


It is being said in some quarters that PDP has not shown enough confidence and direction to convince Nigerians that the party is set to take over power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 general elections. How prepared is the party for the polls?



No serious party will want to continue to remain as an opposition party. The role of any opposition party is to take over power and that is what we have set our eyes on right now. And I want to thank APC for actually making our job easier and I continue to pray that APC continues to make our job easier as we move closer to elections. I do not pray Nigerians continue to suffer and that is why I believe Nigerians will make the right choice by voting out the party in power.


As to our preparations, all I can say is that we are doing all that is legally and politically doable to achieve our objectives. It would be inappropriate for me to give a hint of we are doing or what we are planning. It will amount to someone publishing his war plans before going to the battlefront. You have as well committed suicide before going for the war.


We keep our plans to our chest but be rest assured we are used to the politicking and we shall leave no stone unturned.


It is believed that your leadership intentionally threw away the entire South-West bloc from achieving its aim of clinching the chairmanship of the PDP, which was an agreement reached at the Port Harcourt convention. This seems to be causing disaffection in the South-West zone and the party seems not to be on the ground at the zone. How do you reconcile all these putting in mind South- West is very key come 2019?


I want to disagree with you in your assertions about states of the South-West. First, there was no intention of throwing away the South-West or any other bloc from any part of the country. And by the time we went to the convention, there was no political arrangement from the South as to where the chairman of the party should come from.


We came in May and a convention was scheduled for August in Port Harcourt, the PDP met in Port Harcourt and micro-zoned the chairmanship of the party to the South-West before August last year.



When we went to Port Harcourt, because of interference from government, that election could not take place and our tenure was extended for a year. When we were approaching the December convention, the North met and politically discussed among themselves and maintained the micro-zoning.


The South met and they could not agree on the micro-zoning.


Before every convention, you meet, discuss and also take certain decisions. The unity that existed from the South before the August convention disappeared before the December convention. When they met, they could not agree.

Then they met again and agreed on all other positions except two positions which are the chairmanship and the deputy chairmanship.


And they left that decision among themselves and even the South-East excused themselves from it, but the South-South and the South-West could not agree. And when they could not agree, the South-West and South-South decided that the convention should decide who becomes the chairman and deputy chairman. Failure of a certain part to sit down and agree should not be seen as the rest of the country heaping something on somebody.


Nobody directed the North to meet and maintain what they have done, I did not ask them, it was not in my position to do that and nobody stops the South from agreeing on certain terms. Failure to agree was what threw the race open and politics is an issue of negotiation. So, they came to the convention divided, campaigning against each other and in politics, when you are campaigning against each other and you want the rest to give you power, it becomes more difficult. So really, it was a local failure because the remaining part of the country had their agreement intact.


But I think they did not see a reason to unite before they decided that the convention should determine who emerges. It was at the venue of the convention when the election was about to start that some of them started going round to say they now have a consensus candidate, while some others started going round disclaiming there was such agreement.


So, in such confusion, who do you blame? You cannot blame anybody. Be that as it may, no part of this country should be taken for granted.


Except you don’t understand the politics of Nigeria, that is why you will expect to win elections on the convention ground.


Before you get to the convention ground, all the alliances have been formed and you will know whether you will or lose before getting to the convention ground. You may not have the leadership of the party, you may end up having what is even more than the leadership of the party.


As chairman of the party, you have limited powers even when your party is in government. Can you tell me how powerful the chairman of APC, John Odigie-Oyegun is today?


I think where people should look up to is the executive because that is where policies are formulated and executed and that is where the interest of people you represent can be taken care of.


Apart from the Dickson committee, I know there is another committee being led by Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo with Dr. Bello Haliru and David Mark. They are complementing what others are doing just to ensure peace and accommodation in the party.


When you mention that the party is absent in the South- West, I disagree with that. For me, you have to go gradually to achieve peace, anything you rush into, especially where there is sharp division, you are bound to fail.


So, the party is very conscious of these problems and we are doing all we can to harmonize. I can tell you that you will know our strength as a party when the elections come.


Nigerians should stop looking at the big picture of ceremonial things, those things don’t win elections. You don’t go by the crowd to win elections. In 2015, which crowd we did not have as a party. Did PDP not lose elections? So, don’t be carried away by the crowd that attends a rally.


Till date, many still feel the over-bearing influence of the governors in the PDP was part of the reasons why the party lost in 2015. It is also believed that such played out in deciding who emerged chairman of the party at the December convention. Being a former governor and a major player in PDP, how do you react to this?



Well, going back to the 105 elections, the North expected to have the ticket, to some, that matters. But even at that, our language was not so polite in the campaigns.


The manner and language some of our members used in campaigning for 2015 was insulting to a certain part of the country.


Also, the party structure was not used for campaigning rather an arrangement using Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) was used for the presidential campaign. And TAN was just a motor formulated by some people to impress those in power, it was not something structured, PDP is a structured party down to the village level.


To now abandon that asset and use something superficial, naturally there will be problems because it discouraged some people while some others became nonchalant. I can tell you that some governors were not even aware of how campaigns were going on and no governor was sitting in the campaign council. When you blame the governors, I can tell you that not even the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum was in the Presidential Campaign Council.


These factors contributed to losing the elections, not that APC won, but PDP threw away the elections. There could have been difficulties or challenges, but if we have acted differently, there was no way we could have lost the 2015 elections.


If we are talking about the states, I can say yes but on the presidential, there was no question of over-bearing influence by any governor, especially as I mentioned, no governor was in the Presidential Campaign Council.


They were basically expected to be on-lookers until you visit their states to campaign. They made a mistake. Going forward, the PDP has only 11governors, so the people are working together with the governors we have and the governors are also showing their support. I have not seen where they are showing overbearing influence on anybody.


Right now, you won’t find that in PDP because the situation is completely different, we know that and we are making use of all the assets that we have, whether governors, former governors or former ministers, we respect the views of all who can add value to our party. We are not ignoring all those who are in the position or that has the capacity to help.


Recently, the APC stated that the party is now for restructuring after it initially rejected the idea. Many believed it is because elections are approaching. Where does your party stand on the issue of restructuring?


I addressed a press conference when this matter came up. I said that the APC is now like a chameleon changing colours. All I can say is that, right from the beginning, we in PDP are for restructuring. Besides that, the Governor of Kaduna State and the Chairman of the restructuring committee of the APC, Nasir el- Rufai said on a national television that restructuring is not important.


The following day, I featured in the same television stattion and said all the conferences that were initiated for the processes were done by the PDP because it was during Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan some of the conferences were done and some of the recommendations bother on the issue of restructuring.


I also said restructuring means different things to different people, the starting point is to narrow down the understanding and proceed stage by stage because there are things you can do immediately, some on a short-term and some on a long term.


Several of this issues being raised today is because of several issues happening within the country right now and we have to be sensitive about them. I believe running away from this issue of restructuring is like running away from reality.


For a party to say because it wants to win elections, it has changed its position is the height of deception and it is for Nigerians to take them for who they are, people who will do anything just to remain in power not because they mean it.



Is PDP threatened by the political gimmicks of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, especially with his third force?


We don’t feel threatened by the Coalition of Obasanjo. I can tell you that most of them are friends and associates. They said they are not a political party, time will tell. If they turn out to be a political party, we will see how it plays out. Obasanjo himself said anytime they turn to a political party, he will seize to be a member.



My take on it is like in the United States, where you have independent candidacy, you have the Democrats and the Republican, then you have an independent candidate who looks at a candidate and decides where to swing at the last minute. That is what I feel it is, time will tell what their aims are.


What is your take on the re-ordering of elections by the National Assembly?



The position of the law is clear on this. It is not what is passed, but what is signed that becomes law. If the President signs it, it becomes law.


We passed the same law during my time at the Senate and then a court said it was unconstitutional and that it was the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that has the power to do that. If that is the case, so be it.



But for me, I think my take is, PDP should prepare to win no matter how elections are ordered. To think that elections should be ordered this way or that way is a lazy way of approaching elections.




Whichever way it is ordered, we should campaign and work. I believe strongly that anyhow the elections come, PDP will win. So, we should concentrate on the main issues and not through any short-cut.




Worried by the way they are being treated in APC, there is speculation that some PDP members who defected prior to the 2015 elections are planning to return to the PDP…


If they don’t like those who left PDP to join them to help them win, let them throw them out. And those who want to come back to the PDP are free to come back. We also wish those who want to join PDP to come; it is a free will. They will be welcome back to the PDP. Even if Bola Tinubu will come to PDP; let him come to PDP, we will take him. PDP is open to all.



On the issues of Herdsmen ravaging the country, what do you think the APC -ed government should do to tackle the issue?



I believe this issue has assumed a dimension, which is alarming and all hands need to be on deck to address it. This is a problem that is ravaging the North-Central and southern part of the country. When I was governor, this problem was rampant in my area, but people did not know. It was similar to what is happening now; though the ferocity was quite different.


The proliferation of arms was not there, just cutlass and arrows. The influx of some of these people because of free movement of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has also made it difficult and it has complicated the matter.


Therefore, we must look at this matter critically. The Federal Government has talked about the issue of the colony, but colony as a word sounds offensive. Colonization to me means domination.


Ranching sounds business, anybody can go into ranching and you do business where it is feasible, you cannot do business where it is not feasible. So, we have to begin with the policy of modernisation of ranching, where it is most feasible at this time and re-orient and re-indoctrinate the herdsmen. It will take time but it is doable, modernize their profession, give them some level of education, give them incentives to make them change their ways and methods.


Anything to achieve peace is not a waste. I am not saying they should reward them for criminality or illegality; I am talking of domestic herdsmen who are Nigerians. They should assist them to modernize their practice.


Then, on the issue of free movement by ECOWAS, if people will be crossing our borders and killing and maiming people all in the name of ECOWAS free movement, that is absolutely wrong because every life is important and in the spirit of ECOWAS, we should not continue to waste lives.

Continue Reading


POLITICAL NOTES: Politics and the power of religion



Should religious leaders play active role in politics or refrain from stepping into the political sphere?


This is one question that has defied a definite answer over the years, perhaps, because Nigeria is a country made up of diverse religions.


While it is the right of every citizen as provided in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) that: “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests,” many have insisted that religion should be separated from politics.


But, there is a political school, which argues that if celebrities could enjoy political expression, such should not be denied of religious leaders.


This school insists that religious leaders should be entitled to political comments like any other citizen in free societies. According to its members, politics is not bigger than religion, and so, if dabbling into affairs of the state is going to make the difference for the people; religious leaders should influence it smartly.


They further argued that religion being the driving force of politics all over the world, to separate them may be the most difficult task. Examples were cited of the considerable political influence by Muslim clerics in countries like Iran as well as political dominance of the Hindu Nationalist Party in India despite the fact that the country is a secular state.


However, there is another political school, which believes that religious leaders should not dabble into politics on the conviction that doing such will amount to hypocrisy, especially as it concerns their teachings. To members of this school, the Church/Mosque and the government are two separate offices and should not be joined.


The fear of this school is the danger of allowing politicians smuggle religion into the nation’s politics. It was argued that the interest of the country and its people would be better served if religious leaders ensure that religion is taken away from politics and by ensuring that politicians do not drag politics into religion.


As the debate rages on the participation of religious leaders in partisan politics, it should however be noted that the separation of religion and state does not mean that those who are religious cannot vote or exercise their right to free speech.


To many, religion remains a driving force for the masses, as affinity exists between adherents and their leaders though the real danger is with those who choose to preach prejudice.

Continue Reading


Take advantage of our impressive online traffic; advertise your brands and products on this site. Call


For Advert Placement and Enquiries, Call:

Mobile Phone:+234 803 304 2915


Online Editor: Michael Abimboye

Mobile Phone: 0813 699 6757



Copyright © 2018 NewTelegraph Newspaper.

%d bloggers like this: