In this interview with The Punch Newspaper, Afenifere chieftain and Chairman of the defunct Presidential Advisory Committee on National Conference, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, speaks about President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent appointments and the National Conference report.
But with Tinubu as the National Leader of the APC, he should be able to protect the interest of the Yoruba people.
Tinubu’s story is like Afonja in Ilorin in 1817. Ilorin used to be under the Oyo Empire and was the headquarters of an Oyo General, Afonja. But Afonja rebelled against the empire and helped bring about its collapse with the assistance of the Fulani. Afonja was assisted by Shehu Alimi, who was a Fulani leader. In 1824 Afonja was assassinated and Alimi’s son became Emir and Ilorin became an emirate of the Sokoto Caliphate
It was naive of Tinubu to think that Buhari would just get power and he (Tinubu) would become the kingmaker of Nigeria. That is what Tinubu expected and that was why we kept reminding him of the Ilorin episode. We told him that once Buhari got power, he would turn around and just forget about him and implement a northern hegemonic agenda which Buhari is doing now.
In 1960, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, made a statement publicly that the northerners should regard Nigeria as their conquered territory and that they own Nigeria. He said the entire South-West and South-East should be regarded as conquered territory and that the North should never allow the South to govern. This statement was widely reported in the media. It was in the West African Pilot of October 12, 1960. The quote was boldly published. So, the keys to the chains of slavery we thought we could use to break free were just given back to the North by the APC. The APC became an agent of oppression and enslavement. We can all see that Buhari only tricked Tinubu to get power back to the North.
But under the APC, the South-West produced the vice-president and some could argue that under Jonathan, the South-West was not even in the corridors of power.
First of all, a vice-president has no power. A vice-president can just be sitting at his table and be reading newspapers for four years. A vice-president in a presidential system anywhere in the world does not have any powers. Even in the American system which we copied, most people do not even remember who the vice-president is. Even when Jonathan was the President, what powers did his deputy have? Nothing much. So, stop saying we have the vice-president.
We Yoruba are very educated and we shouldn’t be fooled so easily. Even look at the 36 state governors and their deputies. How many deputy governors have power? The relationship is the same between the President and his deputy. The vice-president is as powerful as the President wants him to be. If the President doesn’t want him to see anything happening, he cannot see anything and he has no choice. So, being a vice-president is not anything to be proud of.
Look at the power configuration in Nigeria today; there are three arms of government: The executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The executive is headed by Buhari who is a northerner; the two arms of the legislature which are the Senate and the House of Representatives, are headed by northerners: Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara respectively. The Chief Justice, Mahmoud Mohammed, who heads the judiciary, is also a northerner. So, the entire government is completely in the hands of the northerners.
To compound it all, look at all the appointments that Buhari has been making. About 90 per cent of his appointees are northerners. In the first appointment he made, eight were from the North while only one was from the South. Subsequently, he made about 30 appointments and only six are from the South and the rest from the North. And if you look at all the important offices today, they are all in control of the North including security agencies like the Comptrollers General of immigration and customs. Even those surrounding the President personally are all northerners except the Senior Special Adviser on Media, Femi Adesina, who is in charge of polishing Buhari’s public image.
So, is this the change we were asked to vote for? I am sure this is not what Tinubu had in mind and this is what we are getting. Southerners have never had it so bad in Nigeria. We have a President whose plan is to extend the Fulani empire to the South and to the Atlantic which has always been their goal.