#EndSARS: As Buhari bares his fangs

By Ikechukwu Amaechi

AS a young journalist at the Independent Communications Network Limited, ICNL, – publishers of TheNews/TEMPO magazine, AM News and PM News – in 1996, I could not but appreciate the significance of the massive Western House building on 8-10 Broad Street, Lagos. TheNews was embedded in the pro-democracy struggle and Western House was the de facto headquarters of the foremost pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, and the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO.

Many of the chieftains of these two groups that were engaged in a mortal battle with the military junta of Sani Abacha, most of them lawyers, had their offices in that complex. A journalist in those days didn’t need to be told that was where to go for news. It became a natural habitat. So, all you needed to do was wake up in the morning and head straight to Western House for exclusive stories, interviews or just a follow-up on what had already been reported.

Chief Ayo Adebanjo’s office was on the third floor. When you started from there and climbed up to the offices of Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele – a lawyer, who also acquired a diploma in journalism in 1962 and worked as a journalist for the BBC and VON Magazine, before becoming the 11th Deputy Governor of Lagos State, serving with Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2003, and Chief Ganiyu Olawale Dawodu, popularly known as G.O.D. – your day would have been made.

Dawodu, a politician and democracy activist par excellence who died in 2006, was a leading member of NADECO, the puissant movement to free Chief Moshood Abiola, who won the June 12, 1993 presidential election that was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida and subsequently jailed by Abacha. Dawodu himself was jailed for his pro-Abiola exertions.

He stridently opposed Tinubu as the governorship candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, in 1999, preferring the late Funsho Williams, and was later enmeshed in a fierce supremacy battle with Tinubu for the soul of Lagos AD. By 2003, Dawodu left the AD for the Progressives Action Coalition, PAC, and was the Lagos gubernatorial candidate.

There were many more at Western House. By the time you were done there and if you were not yet satisfied, all you needed to do was cross over to the Igbosere area where Chief Abraham Adesanya, leader of the Afenifere, had his own law firm. It was in Adesanya’s office that I learnt about the assassination of Abiola’s wife, Kudirat, on June 9, 1996.

I had gone there on that fateful day to keep an appointment on preparations for the third anniversary of June 12 and what NADECO was planning to do. When Chief Adesanya walked in, a look on his face betrayed his emotions. He told me he was not in a mood to talk because Kudirat had been killed. I dashed out of his office and headed back to the corporate headquarters of TheNews in Ogba. There was no Global System for Mobile Communications, GSM, then.

In those days, I developed a strong liking for Adebanjo because he was and still remains an interviewer’s delight. He shoots from the hip. I remember doing a story in TEMPO titled, ‘June 12: The Saints and Villains’. He was one of the ‘saints’ and he liked the story. Once when I went to his office, he gave me a ride back to Ogba. I have not had any interaction with him in a long while, but I still remember those days of journalistic innocence with nostalgia.

So, when Chief Bisi Akande, former governor of Osun State – an estranged member of the Afenifere family – did a public presentation of his autography, My Participations, in Lagos on December 9 and made comments against Adebanjo, I knew there would be a response. And there is, indeed, a response. 

Akande had in a portion of the 559-page autobiography claimed that Adebanjo ‘pestered’ Tinubu to build a house for him in Lekki, where he now resides. Akande, a protégé of Bola Ige – former governor of old Oyo State who was assassinated at his Bodija residence in Ibadan on December 23, 2001 while he was serving as Minister of Justice – also wrote that contrary to what Adebanjo believed, the All Progressives Alliance, APC, did not have restructuring in its manifesto in 2014 when it presented Muhammadu Buhari as its presidential candidate.

He said the APC only promised to support the devolution of power from the centre to the states. Akande also alleged that the trio of Adebanjo, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi (now deceased), and Chief Olu Falae should have found younger Yoruba men to represent the South West at the 2014 National Conference convened by then-President Goodluck Jonathan instead of pocketing “generous allowances” given to conference delegates.

Adebanjo called Akande a “pathological liar” on Arise Television on Tuesday and promised to address a world press conference on Thursday, December 16 to disclose how he got the money to build his Lekki home. “I will give details about how I built my house. By the time I reply him, people will know,” said Adesanya, who is 93. He also fired a salvo at Akande: “When I give the details of how I built my own house, I will ask him to give the details of how he built his house in Ilah and all the properties he has in Lagos and abroad. By the time we put all the facts out, people will know. He has asked me to give my source. I will do that and ask the EFCC to verify. He should also give his own and we will leave it to the public to judge.”

Is it true that Akande, the man who said he has never given nor received bribe his entire life, has offshore properties? The coming days, starting from tomorrow, will surely be interesting. But what has interested me the most at this stage is how the nonagenarian rubbished the frequent boast by the Tinubu camp that he mainstreamed Yoruba politics by taking the South West to the centre and produced the Vice President.

“I am ashamed that Tinubu is still claiming that he took the Yoruba to the centre. I asked him, what has that brought to Yoruba land except giving appointment to his cronies?” Adebanjo asked on Arise Television. “What advantage has Osinbajo’s vice presidency brought to Yoruba nation and what role has he been playing as Vice President other than the role of a market master? Is that the way partners are treated in a coalition?

“They just went there to sell the Yoruba race. They have sold out and I challenge them to mention what advantage they have brought to the Yoruba people besides giving appointments to their cronies. I am saying it was a disaster. What can the average Yoruba claim to have gained by Tinubu dragging them to Buhari? I challenge them, let them tell us what advantage they have brought to Yoruba nation, even to Nigeria. Even Northerners are shouting now, they are regretting. The Sultan of Sokoto is even shouting now about insecurity.”

On Wednesday, heavily armed security personnel made up of police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, barricaded the gate of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Kaduna to stop youths protesting against insecurity in the North from entering the premises.

Katsina State where Buhari hails from has become a hotbed of protests. The youths there are up in arms against the government for the woes that have befallen the North generally, and Katsina State in particularly under the watch of their son, Buhari. 

Many a time, South East politicians talk glibly about the zone becoming an APC enclave so that Ndigbo will no longer play at the periphery of national politics. To such people, Adebanjo’s posers become germane.

If Katsina State can become a wasteland as it is right now, then the problem of the people cannot be solved by their political leaders defecting to the party that makes the authoritative allocation of our collective values at the centre.

So, while the fireworks that Akande’s My Participations has elicited continue – after all, he who alleges has the responsibility to prove – Nigerians will do well to reflect on Adebanjo’s take on the issues, even as the last has not been heard on Akande’s participations.  

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