…Adebanjo’s role in my emergence as governor–Tinubu
By Dapo Akinrefon & Monsuru Olowoopejo
FORMER Secretary-General, Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Tuesday, expressed concerns over the current state of governance in Nigeria, demanding that the country reverts to the practice of true federalism.
They said this at the formal launch of an autobiography in commemoration of the 90th birthday anniversary of Chief Adebanjo, titled: ‘Telling It As It Is’, held in Lagos.
Military truncated federalism—Anyaoku
Anyaoku stressed that the nation was doing well when it practiced true federalism under the four regions, North, East, West and Mid-western regions, but lamented that the military intervention truncated it in 1966.
Explaining novel policy introduced by each region, the former Commonwealth scribe said: “in the Western region then, Awolowo introduced free education and free health, while the Eastern part, late Michael Okpara revolutionalised the agricultural system and that under the leadership of Ahmadu Bello in the North, the groundnut pyramid held sway.”
Anyaoku said: “Adebanjo can be described as a symbol of success for the Nigerian Project. He is indeed very passionate about this country. He is indeed very passionate that our country should do well. He often recalls the yesteryears of our country, when the country was doing well.
“It was a structure that gave each region to develop at its own pace. It was a structure that made citizens of those regions feel proud to belong to the bigger Nigeria. Unfortunately, we had lost that basic structure of governance.
“When we think of the progress we were making in those days, when you look at achievements that were truly first in nature in the South West, when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was there; the universal primary education that he introduced, the first television services in Nigeria and indeed in Africa, and the sage’s management of resources of Western Region. We cannot but say that those were days of healthy competition, because, in the Eastern Region, Obafemi Awolowo ‘s counterpart,
Michael Okpara was also focusing on the development of his region. The agricultural development in Eastern Nigeria was very significant.
“In Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello was also learning from the experiences of his colleagues in the Western Region, the Eastern Region and the Middle West. Those were days you could talk about the famous groundnut pyramid in northern Nigeria or talk about the vast plantations of cotton that Nigeria was producing. You could also talk about the high-quality hide and skin that was being marketed abroad, then.
“I used the word disfigured because I do not believe that there is any country in the world that has the kind of diversity that Nigeria has, diversity of peoples who have lived for centuries in their geographical areas, who have their distinct diverse culture and traditions, where such people can live under a unitary government.”
Our politicians lack principle—Adebanjo
Chief Adebanjo, however, observed the lack of principle on the part of a majority of the new crop of politicians said this deficit had accounted for why they preferred to jump from one platform to the other unlike in the past.
The Afenifere chieftain maintained that Nigeria had no reason to be poor.
While recalling a tour he was part of to Maiduguri with the late sage, Chief Awolowo, he lamented that part of the problem
the country was facing in the hands of those found in the position of power nowadays was that political parties were no longer “operating on their manifestoes.”
Adebanjo, who recalled that Chief Awolowo in those days cancelled youth associations on account that there was no need for any segregation to achieve development and growth for the society, enjoined the Nigerian youths not to be satisfied with one or two slots they were being offered in any clime, especially in government appointments.
Adebanjo explained that the strategy late Obafemi Awolowo used to recruit them into politics made them become radical, saying that was why he and others could not change from one party to the other as they do these days.
I stand for true federalism—Tinubu
Corroborating Adebanjo on true federalism, Tinubu said that Adebanjo stood for true federalism.
“He (Adebanjo) stood for restructuring, which is true federalism; about freedom and about an opportunity for each federating unit to come up with their blueprint to promote the unity of the nation. I am with him on this; he has been a father to all of us in politics and he is ready to pay the supreme price.”
“Ayo Adebanjo is a great leader who was principally committed to constitutional democracy in this nation. You can praise and honour him for his stand on this nation,” he added.
How Adebanjo ensured I become Lagos Governor—Tinubu
While describing Adebanjo as a great leader who stood for restructuring, Tinubu narrated that if not for the honesty and integrity of the elder statesman, he would not have become the governor of Lagos State in 1999.
The APC national leader explained that it was Adebanjo who insisted the results of the primary election which favoured him must be upheld even when others were trying to scuttle it.
“He insisted that every member of the AD must stand for primaries. He said the results of the free primary election must be upheld and that was in my favour. If he were corrupt, he would have collected bribe then as the Acting Chairman of Action for Democracy but he stood his ground and upheld the primary election, which later made me the governor of the state.
“May God bless you. I pray that you will continue in this your honesty, I respect you, and you are a mentor to me. Though we may disagree on some issues, he is my mentor and he taught me rebellion, that means I am not a bastard,” he said.
Awolowo created a body of principles–Akintoye
One of the panelists, Prof. Banji Akintoye, noted that the major problem besieging the country was that successive governments had continued to push away the body of principles created by the defunct Action Group (AG) led by the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Akintoye said: “The AG led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo created a body of principles that we are finding difficult to keep aside. The moment we are trying to keep them aside, we would continue to have problems.
“Those principles are already in the consciousness of the people and that is why governments in the country have continued to have problems.
“The greatest problem of Nigeria is that a body of principles that have been thrown into the consciousness of the people, the government is throwing it aside, that is why Nigerians are not satisfied with the government, that is the problem,” Prof Akintoye said.
Eulogies for Adebanjo
Earlier in this remarks, chairman of the event, former Military Governor of Lagos, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd) eulogised Adebanjo at 90 and wished him well in his future endeavour.
On his part, Mr. Bankole Olayemi, author of the 18-chapter book, titled: ‘A Day in History’, described Chief Adebanjo as “a man of principle and a genuine democrat even in small matters.”
He further described him as a highly disciplined leader and a patriot, saying even at 90, the nationalist and a former NADECO chieftain represented “an indomitable spirit.”
“With the example of Chief Ayo Adebanjo like others in his category, we believe many books will be written,” Olayemi said.
The book reviewer, Prof Wale Adebanwi, said Chief Adebanjo had always remained unyielding in the efforts at building the country, pointing out that he was not a man that one could involve in any struggle that was meant to be seen to an end.
He said: “He (Adebanjo) remains unyielding in building the country, Chief Adebanjo does not operate on the concept of limited conflict, so don’t involve him in any struggle that you don’t believe in finishing.”
Notable personalities present at the event include Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun represented by Mr. Taiwo Adeoluwa; Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State represented by Mr. Okara; former Secretary to Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae; former director-general, Department of State Services, DSS, Chief Albert Horsfall; Serving Overseer of the latter rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare; former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba and former deputy governor of Lagos State, Mrs Kofoworola Buknor-Akerele.
Others are chairman of Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko; former Nigerian Ambassador to The Netherlands, Dr. (Mrs) Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu; Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, Mr. Segun Awolowo; Prof Pat Utomi, Mr. Tony I. Uranta, Dr. Tokunbo Pearse, Alhaji Aliko Dangote represented by Dankam Ozuagu, Prof Banji Akitoye and Mrs. Doyinsola Abiola.