By AbdulSalam Muhammad, Dapo Akinrefon & Gbenga Oke
He has a jaundiced mind — AFENIFERE
It’s for Nigeria’s betterment — Babatope
KANO—Elder Statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, has said that the current agitation to restructure Nigeria was an age-long ploy by the Yoruba-speaking group of the South West to take a shot at power.
The second Republic politician, who spoke with Vanguard in an exclusive chat at his Hadejia Road residence in Kano, explained that the desire was driven by envy and hate for the north.
Yakassai said: “From Action Group to UPN, to NADECO to PRONACO, the agitation for restructuring is concentrated among the South West people of Southern Nigeria.
‘’The whole aggression originated form Action Group, and the intention was to deny the North the benefit of population and land mass. It is, therefore, a gang-up to deprive the North the benefits it was getting for being richly endowed.”
The former President Shehu Shagari’s Liaison officer said: “This agitation is not driven by patriotism, rather it is driven by hate and envy and this campaign started with some politicians in the South West way back in 1959.”
Taking a peep into history, the retired politician stated: “Originally, Action Group, as a political party was not formed to rule Nigeria. The interest of the leaders of Action Group was the interest of Western Nigeria.
‘’It was their intention to make western Nigeria first among equals and in fairness to Awolowo (Chief Obafemi Awolowo), he declared free education that placed the Yorubas ahead of other ethnic groups in the country.
“They produced first class lawyers, engineers, quantity surveyors, architects and other quality professionals, but human nature, being what it is, they realized that when you have knowledge, there is need to control political power, that was how they kick-started the idea of ruling Nigeria.
‘’The agitation is not borne out of good intention, they know that they have evil intention in this idea of restructuring and to date, nobody has come out with a blueprint on what this restructuring is all about because they don’t want to expose themselves.
“The idea is impracticable because to force Nigeria to restructure, you have to change the constitution, and to change the constitution, you must have the support of a number of legislators in the states and two-thirds federal legislators,and without the North, you cannot get the two-third majority.’’
Meanwhile, Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, faulted Yakassai’s remarks on restructuring, saying he has a jaundiced mindset.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin said: “When Yoruba came on the forefront of the agitation for independence and the AG moved motion for independence in 1953, riots broke out in Kano and people were killed.
‘’In less than two years after independence, Awo and Enahoro, who led the move, were put in jail by those who opposed independence so they could monopolise the fruits of independence which they rioted against.
“Yakassai is definitely gauging his environment with a jaundiced mindset. Is he saying Atiku, Ekwueme, Dangiwa Umar, Obi of Onitsha, Samuel Ogbemudia, Emeka Anyaoku, Ndubuisi Kanu, Charles Soludo, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Prof ABC Nwosu and others advocating restructuring are Yoruba people?
In his reaction, former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said the call for restructuring was not a Yoruba agenda but a call for Nigeria’s unity.
He said: “Restructuring is something that will bring about Nigeria’s unity and and if Yakassai reads through the line, he will realise that those calling for it are doing so for the betterment of the country and not a Yoruba agenda.”