A prominent Afenifere Chieftain, Ayo Adebanjo has described former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration as a calamity.
The elder statesman said this in his autobiography titled ‘Telling It As It Is,’ which was publicly presented in Lagos on Tuesday.
In the book which was read by Professor Wale Adebamwi, the author took a swipe at former President Obasanjo. Adebanjo said if it were to be in a decent society, Obasanjo will not feature in public anymore, adding it amazes him how people give Obasanjo ‘undue prominence in spite of his known character.’
“As for Obasanjo, the author reserves his severest content. Obasanjo’s tenure as President, he declared was a calamity, adding that for all the negative things that people has about Obasanjo which he could not refute. If it were to be in a decent society, people like him will not feature in public light again. There’s more, when you read the book,” Adebamwi, the book reviewer said.
Adebanwi said further that the book is sharpest criticism for a fellow Yoruba leader. The author in the book described Obasanjo’s eight years in government between 1999 and 2007 as a civilian President as a tragedy and calamity, declaring that his scorecard was nothing to write home about.
“The man who carried on as if he was all-in-all failed woefully on all counts as President. His eight-year tenure (1999-2007) was a tragedy. His scorecard was nothing to write home about. What did he do in eight years? Before he came, we were buying fuel for N20 per litre, and crude oil was $23 per barrel. In 2007, under his regime, we were buying fuel at N75 per litre, and crude oil was between $65 and $75 per barrel. In the worst days of Abacha, one dollar was over N120,” Adebanjo wrote in the book.
In the book, Adebanjo did not only fault Obasanjo’s eight-year democratic rule. He raises the question of Chief Bola Ige’s decision to join the Obasanjo’s administration which he ranked as one of the gravest and one of the most fatal political errors ever committed by a leading progressive politician in Nigeria’s history.
The author, however, describes Chief Ige as brilliant, one of the greatest Awoist.
“We were opposed to Ige joining Obasanjo’s cabinet but he accepted the appointment oblivious of the fact that Obasanjo was not inviting him in good faith. Bola Ige didn’t need Obasanjo, it was Obasanjo who needed Ige.
“However, how a man of such superb and enviable endowment could join the cabinet of one of the most perverse figures in our political history is a question that the author attempts to grabble with in this book,” Adebamwi added while reviewing the book.
Yoruba leaders on Friday endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan for a second term in office, expressing hopes that he is the only leader capable of implementing the recommendations of the National Conference held last year without any alteration.
The resolution was adopted in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, at a gathering that had in attendance leaders from all walks of life. They gathered to discuss the future of Nigeria at a post-National Conference Summit.
In a 10 point communique read by the chairman of the summit, Ayo Adebanjo, the Yoruba leaders unanimously endorsed Goodluck Jonathan for president.
The resolution was not reached lightly as Yoruba leaders from all the six south-west States deliberated for nearly five hours on the future of the race within the context of a united and prosperous nation.
Nigeria With High Hopes
The convener of the post-CONFAB summit, the Ondo State Governor, Mr Olusegun Mimiko, in his opening address told the gathering that true federalism, which empowered regionalism, remained the pedestal on which every dream of the Yorubas’ rest.
A former Attorney General of the Federation, Richard Akinjide, described the recommendations of the conference as the needed panacea for a Nigeria with high hopes and stability.
The 10 point communique was jointly drafted by members of a pan Yoruba political group, the Afenifere, at least six political parties, the academia, technocrats and civil society organisations captured issues of devolution of powers, regional autonomy, community and state police, the fiat for regional and social services among others.
Elder Statesman, Ayo Adebanjo, believes in Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan’s sincerity to implement the over 500 recommendations from the National Conference held earlier in year.
While expressing his confidence in the President, he said that Nigerians have expressed too much doubts in the sincerity of the President to convene the conference in the first place but he has so far fulfilled every promise he made regarding the matter.
Speaking on Politics Today on Channels Television, Adebanjo argued that President Jonathan deserved some trust from Nigerians based on his sincerity to Nigerians and his determination to convene a national dialogue that surpassed similar attempts in the past.
He noted that the quality of representation at the conference, which was that of top quality and made up of persons like him who had the interest of the country at heart, showed how committed President Jonathan was to the dialogue and change that Nigerians had clamoured for since the end of military government.
Adebanjo, who was one of the delegates, added that he was one of those who fought for Nigeria’s independence and there was no way he would not understand how much the original constitution Nigeria was expected to be operating had been manipulated by the military.
He said that the conference has been able to tackle the main issues affecting the progress of the country and so far no one has been able to fault the quality of work done by the delegates.
Disparity With National Assembly Resolutions
The National Assembly recently passed resolutions amending parts of the Nigerian constitution but some of their resolutions have been seen to negate the recommendations of the National Conference.
The National Conference had recommended the removal of immunity for the executive arm of the government but the National Assembly voted against this in its recent constitution amendment.
Adebanjo noted that the National Assembly was one of the problems they went to the National Conference to solve and he did not expect them to approve the removal of policies that they have been “enjoying adversely against the interest of the people”.
He particularly took exception to the National Conference’s resolutions being compared or being discussed in relation to the National Assembly’s recent constitution amendments.
He questioned the quality of persons in the National Assembly and the elections that took them into the legislative houses.
Adebanjo also aligned with the view expressed by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo that the idea of a Muslim-Muslim ticket allegedly being nursed by the All Progressives Congress towards the 2015 presidential election.
He said that this move showed insensitivity to the current state of mind of Nigerians and would be counter-productive.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clarke, on Wednesday said over half of the delegates at the on-going National Conference are too rigid in their stance on how the nation should run, to effect the change the Conference was set up for.
While on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Clarke, who commended President Goodluck Jonathan for the Conference, “one of the best things that have happened to Nigeria,” expressed doubt in the delegates’ ability to put the nation’s interest above other things.
Clarke stated that “the problem is, you are asking Nigeria to sit down and you are bringing in old people who have a fixed idea of what Nigeria is or has been.” He further stated that at least half of the delegates at the meeting “have fixed ideas of what Nigeria should be”.
The lawyer said the elderly delegates who have been in the political circle do not possess the flexibility needed for such a consultation as they cannot change overnight. Hence, “the problem we are going to have in this National Assembly is that such people with fixation of ideas of how the country can be run can never be changed.”
Mr Clarke insisted that delegates including Edwin Clarke, Jerry Gana, and Ayo Adebanjo have fixed minds and cannot be changed. “These are the people who should not be there,” he said.
He labelled them “old horses who have been recycled for the past 40 years,” and further expressed doubts on the outcome of the Conference in light of the fact that the delegates are yet to agree on a voting pattern in the first two weeks.
Presidential System Makes President, Governors ‘Demi-gods’
While speaking on the programme, Mr Clarke stressed that one of the major issues which must be addressed at the Conference is the current Presidential system of government which he described as too expensive for the nation, adding that the system cannot work.
“Powers are being vested on our president which no other president in the world has” he said, maintaining that section 5 of the constitution confers so much power on the President and governors that “they have become demi-gods”.
He however warned that an attempt to change system of governance will be resisted by many people at the Conference, especially the politicians “who are enjoying the system will never allow it”. This, he argued, is another reason why those at the Conference should not be there.
He advocated that “fresh minds that have no fixation about any philosophy that have no fixation about any idea but are amenable to reasoning and the love of the country” should be brought in for the discussions.
He also said that the experience and expertise of elderly people is needed for the Conference but the set of people who are delegates are fixated.
Mr Clark further accused former president Olusegun Obasanjo for starting the system which now costs the nation 245 million naira to maintain one senator, in a year.
“No matter what anybody says, the problem we have on this Presidential system was caused by Obasanjo. He is the bane of the problem we have on this Presidential system,” Clarke said, adding that “he might have had good intentions.”
Although he thanked He noted that the Conference will not achieve anything since the recommendations have to go through the Nigerian parliament before going to a referendum. He maintained that the lawmakers would vote down any change which will deprive them of all benefits, including convoys, escorts etc.
“Any change that will be inimical to the interest of the present members of the Houses, they will not accept it.”
Mr Clarke decried the recruitment exercise by the Nigeria Immigration Service which led to the death of several applicants. He lambasted the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, for hijacking the exercise from the board in charge, which he created.
“Recruitment is the domestic work of the board of immigration, why should the minister take it over? In taking it over, he bungled it. Lives have been lost but what has been done?” he asked.
Speaking on the presidential system, Clarke said “the president cannot sack Moro” because “Moro has the support of a very strong member who has recommended his name.” Moreover, “we are going into an election period; Mr President will not want anything from any constituency.”
He further claimed the President failed to sack the Minister as he ought to have done because of the influence Moro’s godfather may have on the forthcoming elections.
Clarke suggested the President should have set up a judicial commission as a means of sacking the Minister, without claiming direct responsibility for the decision, in order to appease Moro’s supporters.