He is just bargaining with the Yoruba people. Whatever he is doing
with Buhari would not serve the Yoruba interest.
Afenifere chieftain and statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo has urged
President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw his statement that the
rule of law cannot override national security. In this interview with
WILLY EYA, he spoke on various issues and advised former Lagos
State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to withdraw his support for
the President ahead of 2019 poll.
With what is happening in the polity today ahead of next year’s
general elections, how do you feel? What are your expectations
with regard to the 2019 poll?
You can already see it that it is not going to be free and fair. You
know the elements of free and fair elections. With what the
government is doing now, do you see the elements of free and fair
elections where a federal agency is probing a state government
under a federal institution? There are all kinds of irregularities
where even President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the rule of
law is subject to state security. Where that happens, there is no
more rule of law. Who is going to determine the security of a state?
Is it not a man? You accuse and prosecute a man under an
existing law, and not under the whims and caprices of any man
which is what Buhari is doing. But I am not surprised. I will
continue to say it that everything President Buhari is doing is what
I told you before Nigerians voted for him. I said it before that
people should not vote for this man. He is a dictator and a
conservative by birth. He is a dictator by training and he cannot
change. It is when he wanted to contest elections that he said he
has become a reformed democrat but from day one, you can see
that he has been showing who he is. If you recollect, when I said it
by that time, the supporters said he did this and that during the
military regime. But under the present civilian regime where he is
the president, what has he done now? Court injunctions are being
disobeyed. How many people that courts have ordered to be
released and he has refused to release. He has come out plainly
now to say that the rule of law is subject to the state security and
in that case, who decides state security. Is it not President Buhari?
And you are talking about free and fair election; where are you
going to get that? There is nothing that he is doing that is strange
The question is, even if the President is currently unpopular ahead
of the poll, what is the possibility of removing him through the
The only way is for Nigerians to rally round the coalition of political
parties to present one candidate against Buhari. But in this case
where he is saying that the rule of law is subject to state security,
he is now saying that there is no rule of law. The lawyers, civil
society organisations and all democratic institutions should tell
Buhari to withdraw that statement. What he said is the road to
dictatorship. This is the scene one, two of the Abacha regime. The
whole thing is clear and let us not deceive ourselves. The media
should come out to expose these things to the whole world. Where
in the world have you heard that the rule of law is subject to
national security? President Buhari has given a new definition of
the rule of law. So, the rule of law is now subject to Buhari’s
What do you make of the protracted crisis between the executive
and legislative arms of government and the resolve of the APC-led
government to impeach the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
It is all braggadocio and still the same thing about the non-
obedience of the rule of law. How can they be thinking of the
impeachment of the rule of law without the number to do that.
There is a procedure for electing and impeaching the president of
the Senate and all these are all under the rule of law. If they do not
follow due process to impeach the Senate President, Buhari would
tell you that it is in the interest of national security. So, Nigeria is
back to dictatorship.
With the experience in the recent governorship election in Ekiti
State, what level of confidence do you have in the process leading
to the 2019 poll? Do you think the present INEC will deliver a
credible poll to Nigerians?
We have said so before that the head of INEC and the EFCC should
be removed. For people to have confidence in the process and for
us to have a free and fair election, we ought to have neutral
persons. Without doing that, we are all deceiving ourselves.
Somebody would pick his relation to be the umpire of the election
in which he is participating in and what do you expect. We all know
the answers to these questions but Nigerians should not be afraid
to say that. Why cant we take them to the cleaners when the
president said that the rule of law is subject to national security.
As one of the foremost leaders in the South West zone which
supported Buhari in 2015, do you think the pattern of voting would
change in 2019? Is there anything to show that the South West
would react differently in the next general elections?
Do you think that in 2019, everybody will follow former Lagos State
governor, Bola Tinubu sheepishly to perdition. Don’t forget that the
people of the South West are not fools. He deceived them in the
first instance and I warned them. Since that election of 2015, what
has Tinubu brought to the South West since he took them there.
My dear, I do not want to be talking about the obvious. If anybody
is still in the fools paradise, thinking that Tinubu is leading the
Yoruba, such a person is deceiving himself. Tinubu is just leading
himself now and he is not enjoying the present government except
he is deceiving himself.
But the argument is that the South West has at least the position of
the vice president, hence the justification to vote for the APC
instead of shifting allegiance to a platform they are not sure of
what they will get if the support it.
What is the strength of the vice president? The vice president we
have now is the public relations officer of all the impunities going
on in this government under the President and he is a lawyer. If he
is the vice president and he does not know why he is there, if the
time comes, when he comes home, we will tell him to report what
he and Tinubu have brought by working for Buhari. Vice President
Obasanjo is a qualified lawyer with a good parentage and training
and he will be the first to come and defend that the rule of law is
subject to the national security. It is a shame.
In the prevailing circumstance in which the nation has found itself,
what are your fears particularly ahead of the election?
This coming election will show if Nigeria will stay together or not.
Do not make any mistake about that. If they fail to restructure the
country before the election and if anybody who wins does not
restructure the country, forget about Nigeria.
Despite your position on this matter, President Buhari has always
held a contrary view that restructuring is not the problem of the
nation. Do you really think that restructuring is the answer to our
Are you still taking Buhari seriously? Does he understand what it
means? He does not understand the problems of Nigeria. He only
understands to rule, maim and wipe out some people with the help
of the herdsmen and so on. President Buhari has no philosophy for
a united Nigeria and for Nigeria to be together. The only
philosophy he has is to rule and dominate and he has shown that
by all his actions. In 2007, the Afenifere supported him when he
said he was going to do restructuring and he cannot deny it. When
Tinubu was supporting him in 2015, we warned him of the
implication and that even if Nigerians want to be stupid that they
should know that Buhari is a danger to the unity of the country.
Anybody who is voting for Buhari should forget Nigeria.
So, specifically, what should be your candid advice to Asiwaju
Tinubu ahead of the 2019 poll?
If Tinubu is not going to perdition and if he is going to be rational,
he should withdraw from President Buhari and come home. There
is nothing to report for having joined Buhari in the last general
elections. What has he got to show for all the support for Buhari
when he appointed all the security chiefs from Katsina? Tinubu has
gained nothing. He is just bargaining with the Yoruba people.
Whatever he is doing with Buhari would not serve the Yoruba
interest. If he challenges that, he should come and say this is what
he has brought to the Yoruba people since joining the Buhari
government. Apart from the stooges Buhari appointed, all the
major positions are in the hands of the Northerners. Except the
positions given to some of them because of their efforts during the
campaign, what did the Yoruba people gain as a body?
There is a class of people that believe you do not like the North
and that is why you always antagonize them and has strong views
about that power bloc. Is it true?
No, that is wrong. I am not against the North but what the
Northern representatives are doing. If I am against the North, what
about Col Umar and Tanko Yakassai? Many of you do not know
the history of this country. President Buhari is a wrong
representative of the North and that is why I am attacking him. He
is not a good representative of the North.
He is not the type of Sardauna, Awolowo and Azikiwe who drafted
the constitution I am talking about. The constitution that we are
saying we should go back to about restructuring is what those
people agreed to at independence and Buhari is now telling us that
he is wiser than Sardauna. It is him that is always telling people of
the North to vote for candidates of their own religion. With
Awolowo in 1977, we were touring the whole North campaigning
for them to vote for the Unity Party f Nigeria (UPN). Even in the
First Republic, we won elections in the Middle Belt area. But it was
Buhari who said people should not vote for people who are not of
their own religion. Poverty does not know any religion, tribe or
gender. With all the appointments that the North has, they have
more almajirin than other parts of the country when his children
are being taken to London for their education How many of them
are trained here? Whenever he is sick, he is taken to London. Let
them not deceive you. If President Buhari is fooling some people, I
cannot be fooled. When we say we want to restructure the country,
we are only saying we want to stay together on agreed terms
where every region would enjoy relative autonomy. What is wrong
with that? You have a constitution imposed on us by the military
where we have a president that is the most powerful in the world. I
want to repeat again, to have election in 2019, there must be a
country. Even to develop economically, you must have political
stability. Can you have stability with the East when they are saying
that the country is cheating them? Can you have stability in the
Niger Delta when the Avengers say you are cheating the people?
Can you have stability with the agitation of people from the Middle
Belt? Why can’t we have a constitution that will satisfy everybody?
You say no. Are you not the number one enemy of the country?
President Buhari recently came back to Nigeria from London and
he said he will send more thieves to jail. In view of his anti-
corruption fight, how did that come to you?
You are just going back to what I have told you. How can he say
he is going to send anybody to jail? Is he the judiciary? It shows
you that he is a dictator because rather than send them to court
through prosecution, you send them to jail.
He is just bargaining with the Yoruba people. Whatever he is doing