Elder statesman and Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has scolded Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai for dictating the direction Nigeria should follow in determining the 2023 presidency. The governor had within the week said rotation of the presidency should stop and give way for competence. He warned that any attempt to arm-twist the South with the 1999 constitution may lead to the nation’s disintegration. “You want to dictate the term in which we are going to live together, who are you to do that? When the Whiteman amalgamated us, did they consult us? Since the amalgamation is causing trouble, then let us de-amalgamate and let everybody go back to his father’s house”, he warned.
In this interview with VINCENT KALU, the leader of Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, said Nigeria should restructure to come up with a people’s constitution, which should be a guide on how to live together, and who should occupy the presidency.
What do we do arrest the country’s current drift towards the precipice?
We are living in denial; even when the truth is staring us in the face, we choose to deny it. You can’t solve the problem of this nation in any form until you restructure the country. How can the President have to keep security from Abuja in Osogbo, that is the crux of the matter and everything you lay on it is false.
Of late, the Fulani herdsmen kidnap people in the South-west, South-east and South-south, and you deny it; they kill people, you deny, they rape and maim people, you deny and look the other way, but when they kidnapped the pastors of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, they released the victims immediately, but left the kidnappers, because you don’t want to stigmatise them; why are you hiding them and continue to deny? Each time you deny, evidences show they were responsible.
Last week in Taraba State, soldiers killed the policemen who arrested one of those responsible for kidnapping, and set him free. All these problems are interwoven. I say it, the Yoruba, the indigenes of this area don’t trust any security outside the people of our own area. This is how fundamental it is. Then you go over the governors and go to the traditional rulers, what type of regime is that in a federal constitution? We are not pretending, Buhari doesn’t want to do anything because he is Fulani. We have every evidence to show that herdsmen are everywhere; they use sophisticated weapons, they kill people, they burn houses and sack communities, but those in authority claim not to know who are committing these atrocities.
When they committed the same atrocities in Benue, the state government went to meet the President and said the Miyetti Allah people were responsible, and he asked the Inspector General of Police to go there, but the IGP didn’t go there; he disobeyed him. As the chief security officer and the commander-in-chief, what did Buhari do to him? Nothing, he even wanted to extend his tenure. You don’t waste your time pretending as if you don’t know where your problems are coming from. There is no honesty in the whole thing. Talking about security, Buhari and his government are not serious about it; if they are serious about it, they should do something; let the governors be responsible for security in their states; you call them the chief security officers of their states, but have they got the instrument to control the police? The police are still controlled from above and we have evidence that police arrest these people, and they are asked to release them.
We have evidence that Fulani men who killed the daughter of our leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, her brother went to the police station, the police told him that Fulani people were responsible and that they knew them, then you are the leader, you look the other way and pretended that nothing happened. The head of the police would say they were setting up an inquiry, which doesn’t happen.
Under your watch, two security agencies are quarrelling and fighting, you say you are setting up inquiry. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) were fighting, and you said you were setting up inquiry. Till today, nobody has heard about the inquiry and its outcome.
This is not a pretending matter. We should sit and talk. We say let’s use the 2014 Confab report; you say you didn’t set it up, but it has farfetched recommendations. If you are serious about it, what is wrong there that you don’t want? Get along and get it right. You know what to do, but you don’t want to do it. You want to tell me that the local people of Benue were in charge of their security, the first time you attacked them it was by surprise, the second time the same, and the third time the same, killing thousands, and at each time it happens, you would say you are on top of it, another time it happens, you are on top of it or you say God would punish the killers. Who are you deceiving? You think you are deceiving people who don’t know that they are being deceived?
Buhari and his government know what to do and they refused to do it to end the killings and other security problems in the country because they are interested in the commotion.
Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai said that the presidency should go to competent person, and no more by rotation, do you share the same view with him?
He is talking nonsense; is he to make constitution for us? Let the people sit and say that is what they want, and not what the governor is blabbing. What is he talking about? So if he talks nonsense, you people can’t stop him; does he own the presidency?
What we are saying is that this constitution he is relying upon is not our constitution; let the people sit and make their own constitution. The constitution, which they make, you said you don’t accept because you didn’t set up the committee, which one are you setting up? You continue to rule us under a constitution which we say we don’t want. You use the provision of the constitution, which we have rejected to continue to oppress us.
Who is El-Rufai to tell us how we should be governed? How can a section of the country dictate the type of constitution of living together in this country, which is an objectionable thing and which is causing all the problems in this country. You want to have unity, while you are the rider and others are the horse. You want to dictate the term in which we are going to live together, who are you to do that? When the Whiteman amalgamated us, did they consult us? Since the amalgamation is causing trouble, then let us de-amalgamate and let everybody go back to his father’s house.
Some people are asking, why is the Kaduna governor asking for the jettisoning of zoning now. Any idea?
I’m a consistent man, and I have questioned his power to direct us on what we should do. We have to go to the root; he is talking about it because that is what the fraudulent constitution says. Let him say it when we have an agreed constitution. What he is saying is what the present constitution says, but we are saying that the present constitution was not made by us, and so, it is a fraud. This nonsense he is talking will not save us, what will save us is for us to make a constitution that will pass through referendum and not this thing foisted on us by the military.
This argument that sovereignty is with the National Assembly is false. When we talk about a constitution that will pass through referendum, you say referendum is not in the constitution, which constitution? Is it the one that was imposed on us?