There was fireworks in Yorubaland over the presumed ambition of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the 2023 presidential race.
Two prominent figures from the zone, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Henry Dele Ajomale, who spoke with Saturday Sun, disagreed on the propriety or otherwise of the former Lagos State Governor standing for the election.
While Adebanjo, a notable Yoruba leader, said the basis for seeking such office by Tinubu, popularly known by his traditional title from Borgu Emirate in Bauchi State, Jagaban, was not there, Ajomale, a former Chairman of the APC in Lagos State, said no one and nothing can stop the move.
Adebanjo told Saturday Sun when asked of his position on zoning, which has become controversial, especially with the recent pronouncement of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cousin, Mamman Daura: “I’m talking about the foundation; there must be a constitution before you talk about system of government, that is the root problem.
“When they say, zoning, some people will say it is not in the constitution; it is better we go back to the constitution and make all these things clear, then we know what law we are being ruled.
“They promised Jagaban that they will make him president; I’m not against that, but let us change the constitution first.
“If you want to make my son the president under this constitution, I will oppose it; I will oppose any Southerner who wants to run under this constitution.
“Let us change the constitution and let us agree on the terms to live.
“You cannot impose a constitution that is loaded against the South on us.
“I have said this before and let him make a statement to say that Ayo Adebanjo is talking nonsense.”
Ajomale told Saturday Sun: “I’m not surprised by Pa Ayo Adebanjo’s outbursts.
“That is his usual position on any issue relating to Tinubu.
“While Adebanjo is entitled to his own personal opinion, the view of majority of Nigerians especially APC members across the country is that Tinubu still remains a strong force to reckon with in the party, and not only in APC but in Nigerian politics.
“I’m not surprised by Adebanjo’s comments.
“For reasons known to him, he has never seen anything good about Tinubu.
“To me, the setting up of the Caretaker Committee is not targeted at Tinubu or aimed at whittling down his political influence within the party.
“And by the way, if the setting up of the committee was targeted at Tinubu or if the aim was to reduce Tinubu’s influence or make him irrelevant in the party’s affairs, then why did the members of the committee visit him in his house?
“That visit by members of the committee says a lot about how they hold Tinubu in high esteem.
“I also disagreed with Pa Ayo Adebanjo that Tinubu has abandoned restructuring, issues of fiscal federalism, and other progressive ideals since he teamed up with Buhari, and other APC leaders.
“Tinubu is a man of principle who remains committed to any ideal that will help to strengthen true practice of federalism in the country.
“Adebanjo should be ignored.
“Nigerians should not take him serious, especially if he says anything on Tinubu.
“I don’t know why Adebanjo has decided to turn himself into one-man opposition.
“You will always find him anywhere or in any group where they are speaking against the government.
“Sometime ago, he made a declaration that Nigeria should break; is that the kind of statement we should be expecting from an elder statesman of his stature?
“That was a treasonable statement, and if not for his age, he should have been arrested and charged to court for treason for making that inflammable statement.
“But one thing I have discovered is that Adebanjo has now been deserted.
“How many of those people that we used to see with him are now with him?
“Adebanjo is now running a one man show.
“The old man is just lucky that God has blessed him with good health if not how many people in his age bracket can continue to run up and down doing those kind of things he has been doing?
“But my candid advice to him is that Papa Adebanjo should take it easy, and slow down.
“Then he should not be portraying himself as an emblem of opposition against President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC-led government.
“Honestly, I believe that no force can stop or frustrate Tinubu if it has been destined that he will be there in 2023.
“Moreover, why would any group be so desperate to stop a man that is eminently qualified to hold the post?
“Tinubu is eminently qualified and if he comes out today to express interest I believe that millions of Nigerians will come out to support him.
“Forget whatever people like Adebanjo are saying.
“Some of these things they are saying are even borne out of envy, and personal jealousy.
“If Tinubu is destined to be there in 2023, no human force can stop him.
“Although some people would say that why should another Yoruba man after (Olusegun) Obasanjo served as President and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as Vice-President should set his eyes on 2023, but my take on that is this: what we should emphasize in 2023 is the principle of zoning, and under that arrangement it is supposed to be the turn of the South in 2023, and when it comes to the turn of the South, then the presidency can go anywhere in the region.
“By this, I mean Tinubu’s aspiration should not be seen as a threat to the ambition of any other individual in the South who also has interest in 2023.”