The name Ayo Adebanjo rings a bell in Nigeria politics. A Chieftain of AFENIFERE and First Republic renowned politician, in an interview, speaks on what Afenifere stands for, Nigeria’s underdevelopment and other critical national issues. Excerpts.
- WHAT IS AFENIFERE?
AFENIFERE is not a Pan Yoruba Socio-Political-Cultural organization as generally conceived and equated but offshoot of the Action Group (AG) of the First Republic.
AFENIFERE emerged before Independence on the philosophy of Awoism. Afenifere is not a Yoruba social cultural organization but a political movement with a definite political ideology that promotes welfarism and socialism in Yorubaland. Not every Yorubaman belongs to Afenifere and those in it believe in the political ideology of Obafemi Awolowo. Every yorubaman belongs to Omo-Oduduwa just like every Igbo man belongs to the then Igbo Union before independence until prescribed by the military in 1966. It is important to clarify AFENIFERE and what it stands for.
- ON NIGERIA’S UNDERDEVELOPMENT
The abrogation of 1960 Independence Constitution and the inability of successive leadership to return the country to the Independence Constitution is the bane of the country’s development.
The Independence Constitution guarantees federalism, equity and tranquility. We have been running the country with a constitution not people-oriented. The change the country needs to move forward is to change to true federalism. We cannot have development unless there is a constitution produced by the people.
- ON RE-STRUCTUTING NIGERIA
Restructuring connotes true federalism that is going back to the Independence Constitution. Restructuring allows every region or state to develop at its own pace, and resources. Power should be decentralized. The Independence Constitution for instance, allowed Obafemi Awolowo as the Premier of the Western Region to implement welfare programes that are still visible till today.
Restructuring will not break the country and those thinking that way do not wish the country well. It makes for regional independent and each federating unit autonomous and developing at its own pace. Under federalism, each federating unit services the central government. No restructuring, no Nigeria is my stand. We can’t have political stability, justice, or make progress if the country is not restructured.
I am disillusioned that Mohammadu Buhari in 3 attempts to become President of Nigeria in 2007, 2001 and 2015, has restructuring as one of the programmes, but more than three and half years in power, he is paying little or no attention to restructuring the Country. Buhari is not a man of integrity.
- ON COST OF GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA
The Presidential system of government in Nigeria is not only very costly but 1999 Constitution produced by the military makes the President the most powerful in the world.
The Parliamentary system of government is cheaper, cost-effective and more democratic. It is practiced in India, Australia and New Zealand. I am an advocate of the country reverting back to the Parliamentary system as was the case in the First Republic.
ON THE 2014 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
The National Assembly has no business in the amendment of the 1999 Constitution because it is a fraudulent document imposed on Nigerians by the military. The primary function of elected members of the National Assembly is to make laws for good governance of the country.
The 2014 National Conference attended by eminent Nigerians cutting across every strata of the society came up with 600 Resolution and recommendations for a referendum. Any serious government about keeping the country together and peaceful should implement the recommendation of the 2014 National Conference. We do not need any other Political Conference inn Nigeria.
- 2019 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
My fear of 2019 General election is that the composition of members of the electoral umpire makes INEC not Independent. The Constitution of members of INEC in which relations of Mr. President are there, creates fears of the neutrality of the commission to conduct of credible electione. Of all the Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar is the best candidate that has what it takes to keep the country together; he is the best experienced of all the Presidential Candidates.
Interview by Geoffrey Umeh.