The leader of the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, in this interview with SEGUN ADEWOLE, explains the need for the South-East to produce the next president of the country
Recently, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu dumped his presidential ambition and backed Senate President Ahmad Lawan who is from the North-East for president. Do you think this betrays the struggle for an Igbo President in 2023?
Did you ever take Orji Kalu seriously? Those who take him seriously don’t know him. Those are the spoilers of Nigerian politics. How can an Igbo man say he’s backing a northerner? I will not get myself involved in their foolishness. Do you know the reason why he joined the All Progressives Congress? T So, let us talk about those who are more serious because. I don’t take Kalu as a serious politician.
You are one of those championing the struggle for an Igbo President. From the aspirants who have stepped forward, which of them do you think stands a chance of winning the presidential election if given his party’s ticket?
Don’t let us use that one to divide them. I am working for them to be united. I won’t take any stand now. Let the principle be established first. For equity, justice, inclusiveness and for sincerity in the belief in one Nigeria, the Presidency should go to the South-East. The joy will be there when we all agree that it’s the turn of the South-East, not when they are all divided there. It’s not all of them who want to go there are serious. Some of the candidates themselves are being used by Buhari to divide them. So, let us remove the chaff from the people first. Let the principle be agreed upon then we’ll be able to work on all of them and their interest to be united. All these different candidates coming in are the manipulation of Buhari and Fulani people to get the whole of the South divided so that their own candidate can walk in. Go and write it down, that’s the view which I’ve always had, it’s not a new view. I know the Fulani very well, they are a minority in Nigeria but perfect in manipulation by dividing their opponents to be able to rule them. Divide and rule is Fulani personified.
Peter Obi’s campaign is currently doing well on social media with him winning almost every poll held on Twitter. However, many fear that social media doesn’t determine who wins elections. What advice do you have for his supporters who are active on social media?
I’ll advise them to be united. They shouldn’t allow room for division. Let us persuade all the Igbo candidates to know that they have one common goal and interest. They shouldn’t allow any mischief to divide them. Let us preach that first. My stand now is to persuade the Igbo, not only them but all other southern candidates wanting to do it, to know that it is not equity when the South-East is yet to hold the position. The game of the Fulani is not to unite us; they want the country to break. I tell you, if they insist on another Fulani candidate, forget Nigeria.
Right now, the South-West has more than four presidential aspirants. Would you advise people from the region to ignore their own leaders and support aspirants from the South-East which is yet to produce a president?
I have said it here. Any other southern candidate is playing the game of Fulani hegemony. It is not in our interest. Any Fulani in support of a South-West candidate is deceiving him. This is the game of divide and rule. That’s why Buhari said he’s supporting Tinubu but yet he’s backing Osinbajo, Amosun and also Fayemi to get them divided. And to further get the south divided, they are teasing Jonathan, and that one, unfortunately, at the expense of his integrity, is falling for such bait. I feel ashamed of him.
What advice will you give to the South-East if the top political parties fail to give candidates from the region their presidential ticket?
They should maintain their stand. Their stand is not a favour, it is their right. On this issue, take it from me, Nigeria will either stand or break. We can’t continue to ignore while the minority Fulani continue to rule us. We should put on our thinking cap, no matter what. No Fulani loves anyone in Nigeria more than themselves. They want to Fulanise and Islamise Nigeria; they want to dominate us and then come and tell us that they are the majority. Any southern candidate not from the South-East planning to be President is a traitor to Nigeria’s unity.
If peradventure the North clinches the presidential ticket of the two top political parties, how will you advise the South to vote in 2023?
Vote? Not a single vote should go to any northern candidate, not one. Any southern voter that votes for a northern candidate in this election is giving himself to his own Golgotha. There is no hidden fact about it. Those saying the Presidency shouldn’t go to the South-East should tell us why. Is it equitable? Is it justified? Does it make for peace? Does it make for unity? When it comes to rotation, should it go to the South-West after the region served as President for eight years and got Vice President for eight years? Or should it go to the South-South that served for five years at the expense of the South-East that has not served for one day? That’s if we are serious about keeping Nigeria. But if we are not serious about keeping Nigeria, then they should go their way and I am for it. That’s why I say I don’t support secession but I don’t oppose it. If you don’t want us again in Nigeria at an agreed constitution that is agreeable to every stakeholder, then let everybody go back to his father’s land. Northern Nigeria cannot keep us together on the unity of horse and rider, where they will be the rider and the South will be the horse. It will not work. It will lead to a break and the break is certain. If they don’t keep to the plight of the South-East, Nigeria will break. You don’t need any crystal ball for that. You cannot build the country on disunity, ganging up, conspiracy and exclusion, it will not work. ,,
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