‘Buhari should stop listening to those demarketing him’

Civil rights lawyer and Chairman, League of Patriotic Lawyers, Abubakar Yesufu, in this interview, speaks on various issues in the polity including government’s earlier opposition to Amotekun, fate of former Lagos State governor, Akinwumi Ambode, and prospects of the perceived presidential ambition of National Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Yesufu, who is one of the lawyers defending the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omowole Sowore, also urges government to discontinue the prosecution.

By Olayinka Ajayi

Your organisation has been been making remarks, highlighting what you described as achievements of the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode. What is the reason?

The idea to highlight Ambode’s achievements is not to bring him back to Lagos State as a governor, but to put him in the right perspective, He occupies a huge space in the hall of fame. If past governors are to be assessed from Mobolaji Johnson till date, Ambode would have an enviable place. We regard what happened to him as political lynching.

When he lost in the race he could have turned the table against the ruling All Progressives Congress ,APC, but he believes more in the party supremacy and went around Lagos State calming frayed nerves, especially in his native Epe, Ikorodu and Alimosho Local Government Areas, LGAs. With over one million registered voters in Alimosho LGA, where he constructed more than 42 roads and Epe/Ikorodu with over 600 thousand voters, he could have been able to turn the table against the APC.

He declined the gubernatorial ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which was given to him on a platter of gold and rather worked assiduously for the ticket of Buhari/Osinbajo.

He left the comfort of his Alausa office and crisscrossed Lagos, assuring his teaming and fanatical supporters that party supremacy was preferable. His main sin was that he wanted the best for the state. This patriotic gesture cost him the crown and won him the sobriquet, “persecuted patriot.’’

Most qualified

At the league level, we are calling on the most qualified presidential aspirant in the South, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to ensure that his political sons are together so that they would all campaign vigorously for him. His political sons include but not limited to Babatunde Fashola, Muiz Banire, Rotimi Akerodolu, Kayode Fayemi and most recently Ambode.

These people would be an asset to him. Ambode’s achievements in four years are eloquent testimonies. We still believe that the investigations into the purchase of 820 buses by the Lagos State House of Assembly are diversionary. Ambode constructed many roads in the state including Airport Road. There was also the 25 billion naira trust fund that created jobs for 10,000 youths. Lagos also got 500 million naira disability fund under him.

In your state, Edo, there seem to be fears that the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, may be denied a second term ticket…

Since the demise of elder statesman, Chief Anthony Anenih three years ago, no true acceptable leader has emerged in Edo State. The first-ever that cuts across political tribal and social divides is Captain Hosa Okunbor.

The new leader is a farmer and owns Greenhouse Farms, the first successful commercial indigenous greenhouse farms in Nigeria. It is located in Edo State. The greenhouse farm employs hydroponics for its production and currently employs about 10,000 Nigerians, especially Edo youths.

Leadership in Edo State does not normally emerge through votes. It is spontaneous. Its sustainability connotes its acceptability. Captain Hosa’s acceptance cuts across the three senatorial districts in the state.

Capi, as he is fondly called by his admirers caused a stir in the political firmament when the news hit both the social and mainstream media that he may participate in the governorship race. Aspirants ran helter-skelter for confirmation or denial. Structures were collapsing across political parties. Edolites both home and abroad were ready to assist him.

Thus, instead of throwing his cap into the political ring, he sought refuge in the farms. He has thrown his wealth of experience into the farm project, because he wants Nigeria and Nigerians to become self-sufficient in food production. So immense is this greenhouse hydroponics project that the Americans are ready to partner with him.

I think his new position as the new leader in Edo State may just be the elixir that would heal the rift between governor Obaseki and Oshiomole. If this reconciliation does not work,  Edo people may eventually give victory to whosoever he openly supports.

On Amotekun

Amotekun is a long-overdue idea. The South-West is the only geopolitical zone that does not enjoy unfettered travels by air. Thus, we either go to Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Ekiti, Osun by road or face the likelihood of being a victim of kidnappers, rapists, and robbers. Surveys carried out by the League of Patriotic Lawyers in early January 2020 show that 90 percent of holidaymakers both in the diaspora and in Lagos did not make their yearly trips because of the unhealthy nature of the roads. Amotekun is not regional police that wants to replace the Nigerian police.

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It is merely an initiative to complement the Nigerian police like other organizations which include Hisbah and civilian JTF in the north. We thank God that the Attorney General reversed himself on his initial objection to this laudable programme by South-West governors.

There are allegations from some sections of the country that Amotekun is a military arm of Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC…

The uninformed usually paint this organization as an ethnic militia. It is wrong. I have known Aare Gani Adams for more than 20 years. He is one of the founders of OPC that was essentially formed to fight for the restoration of democracy and revalidation of the stolen mandate of Chief MKO Abiola in 1993. Indeed Aare Gani Adams has more friends outside his South-West zone. The uninformed do not see the OPC beyond what it was in 1993 when it fought the military out of our political space. They do not even know that Aare Onakakanfo is a university graduate, who has delivered lectures in reputable fora all over the globe.

Today, the Oodua Progressive Union,OPU, the diaspora arm of the OPC has presence in more than 87 countries. Not even one has called the OPC a militia or terrorist group. Thus, the Balarabe Musas and Tanko Yakassais completely missed the point when they tried to describe the OPC as a militia. Indeed, for Amotekun to be a huge success, the experience of the OPC in guarding the South-West must be considered. Gani Adams should assist in providing the bedrock for its take-off and successful implementation of the scheme.

The general belief is that President Muhammadu Buhari is not responding to issues in the country appropriately. What do you think?

I think Buhari means well for Nigeria. He is surrounded by people holding the country to ransom. How else can one justify some members of his kitchen cabinet deliberately crying wolves over nothing? The arrest and ongoing trial of Omoyele Sowore were highly ill-advised and unnecessary just like the opposition to Amotekun. Buhari should do more by listening to the progressives in his government which include but not limited to Boss Mustapha, Osinbajo, and Fashola.

SGF

The Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, has been the most consistent ideological person in Buhari’s cabinet. He is urbane, cerebral and highly cosmopolitan. Either as a bar activist, boardroom guru or politician, he is always on the side of the downtrodden. Buhari should do more by listening to this democrat rather than those demarketing his administration.

On a final note, the government should immediately withdraw the embarrassing persecution of Sowore and allow this youth leader of men to ventilate his ideology.

Vanguard

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