Elder statesman and leader of the pan Yoruba Socio-cultural organization, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Fasanmi has declared that with the registration of the All Progressive Congress (APC) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) justifies Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s quest for a party of progressives.
The former senator also believes that the end will soon come for the reign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the national level, saying that the new party would provide solution to the various problems confronting the nation. He spoke to BAMIGBOLAGBOLAGUNTE in Osogbo.
Excerpts: The All Progressive Congress (APC) has just been registered. What is the hope of this new political party?
One day during the days of the late sage, the only political hero that Yorubas worship and that we shall continue to worship, Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, we were at the leaders conference in his home town, Ikene, Ogun state and it was agreed that all progressive folks in the country must come together if this country must progress.
Today, we are doing similar thing. The progressive elements must come together to salvage this country from political marauders. That is the best way to take over the government of this country from the PDP.
As the largest country in Africa, everyone in this continent looks forward to seeing this country setting the pace for others and that can only take place when the progressives take over. Those who love this country should pray for APC to win elections in 2015. Those who prefer darkness to light are those who do not want APC in power, but we are so sure that the APC will rule this country from 2015, and no force will stop it. That is the only way to save Nigeria from destruction of the PDP.
I am happy that the leadership of the new political party (APC) is made up of men of integrity. They are principled men who cannot sell their conscience for a plate of porridge. Now that the party has been registered the revolution in the South West can also now happen in all parts of the country.
Do you think this new party has any hope to take over from the PDP?
With the present situation of things and with the efforts being put together by the leaders of this new party, the APC has hope and it is the only party that can send the PDP packing from Aso Rock. Let’s wait and see what will happen in 2015. I’m sure APC will, by the grace of God, take over from the PDP.
The Pan Yoruba Socio-Cultural organization, Afenifere, has been divided. What is the cause of the division and what are you doing to unite the organization in order to regain its lost recognition in the country?
The situation in Afenifere actually touches my heart. As a matter of fact, we all have to come together in the interest of the Yoruba nation. The major cause of the division in Afenifere is personal ambition. There is the Afenifere under the leadership of Reuben Fashoranti and there is also the Afenifere Renewal group under the leadership of Wale Oshun. The division in Afenifere occurred as a result of personal interest and ambition.
Fashoranti has been my friend for nearly 60 years now, Ayo Adebanjo is also a very good friend and most of the members of the Afenifere under Fashoranti are my very good friends and I wonder why we cannot come together. It is important for Yorubas to come together now for the interest of the Yoruba nation to be properly handled. The Afenifere Renewal Group is made of young, energetic Yorubas who are very active and I know most of them very well
In those good old days, those who were chosen were young individuals. For instance, Matthew Mbu was a minister at a young age; Kola Balogun was just over 30 when he was made the minister and Gen Yakubu Gowon was equally young when he took over as Military Head of State. So, I have no doubt that these young men and women who are in the Afenifere Renewal Group will perform creditably with the advice and support of the elders. So, I am appealing to my colleagues on the either sides to come together.
Although, some of them are supporting the PDP, and of course Afenifere members can be in any political party, but we need to come together under one umbrella. The hero we worship in politics in Yoruba land, Chief Awolowo, will be happy in heaven if we all come together. Let us forget our differences and come together, so as for the spirit of Awolowo to bless all of us.
What will you identify as the cause(s) of the problems confronting the country?
The simple answer is leadership problem. The major cause of Nigeria’s problem is poor leadership. Once the leadership is corrupt and those at the top cannot do what is right, then there will be problem. Our leaders lack transparency and they are not ready to serve the people but they are in office to enrich themselves, they only want to pocket what is meant for the generality of the people.
Also, the presidential system of government, being practiced in the Country, cannot help us. We should also ask ourselves if truly we are operating a federal system of government. There are certain things the Federal Government should not look into if we are operating a true federal system of government. The Federal Government should only be concerned with the concurrent list. Must we continue to make police a federal agency in a federal system of government that we claim to operate and deny the states the opportunity to have their own police force? The system has to be re-examined. We take so much prominence on money in Nigeria and people don’t care where you get the money. This is too bad. What do you expect from a country that gives state pardon to a criminally-minded person? Honesty and dedication do not matter again in Nigeria. You will see people in Party ‘A’ today, tomorrow they are in Party ‘B’ because they want to make money.
This country has to be redeemed, especially at this crucial time when we want to mark our centenary anniversary. Also, the different ethnic nationalities need to come together to address the problems of this country and think of ways to progress. The different ethnic groups should express their feelings and also chart a way forward.
Insecurity is a great challenge confronting the nation, what do you think was responsible for this and what is the solution?
The insecurity in this country has affected our economy as a nation because it has driven investors away from the country. Nigeria would have been better than this, economically, but for the problem of insecurity. Nigeria is a very beautiful country and we need to maintain our beauty and return to God as the prodigal son did.
How would you describe the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan?
Jonathan is not performing at all. He is just behaving like a lame duck. Look at what is happening in the PDP. The National Chairman of the Party does not agree with the party’s governors. Look at what is happening even in Ogun State where they have a former president.
Even in Adamawa State where Tukur hails from, there is problem. PDP cannot put its house in order and Jonathan cannot manage it. The President has not done anything for those involved in the petroleum subsidy scandal. Jonathan is a young man and I would have expected him to perform better. A man who became governor without any election should have performed better. Jonathan is more interested in his second term ambition than governance. His focus is in 2015 election and not in governance. He has just two more years to go. Jonathan will be shown the red card in 2015 and he should prepare to go now. He has less than two years to go and everyone will be glad when the APC takes over from him. What I can see is that Jonathan is on the way out.
Nigeria will be 100 years next year as a nation. As an elder Statesman, how would you describe the journey so far?
We thank God for the journey of Nigeria from the date of its amalgamation to date. Nigeria has been a blessed nation but our leaders have been its major problem. The situation of things in the country in recent times calls for sober reflection by those who believe in Nigeria. If you look at various aspects of our national life, especially economy and politics, you will feel very much disappointed. Talk of education, employment, security, social infrastructures, they are all comatose.
The most worrisome of all the aspects of our national life is security. There is insecurity in the country, especially the northern part. Any leader or political party that cannot guarantee the security of the nationals is not fit to be in power. Our infrastructures have gone into ruins and our educational system is nothing to write home about. We many universities, over a hundred, but the education standard is falling by the day. The standard of education is very low now compared with what it used to be. Now, a graduate cannot speak or write correct English. If you ask a graduate of Accountancy to multiply seven by five, he would be silent for a long time before he gives a wrong answer.
However, with the development in the South West geopolitical zone by the coming on board of those I will describe as Political Daniels, one feel elated. I’m saying this, not because I am a member of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), but because the governors in the South West are revolutionists who have come to give us hope and also tell us that the country still has hope. Look at what is happening in Lagos State. Anyone who gets to Lagos now will see the wonders Governor Babatunde Fashola is performing.
The governors of Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states are also doing similar thing. They are performing wonders and there is a wonderful transformation in these states, hence the need to commend them. One thing that gladdens my heart since the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was funded is that there is no governor of the CAN that has been prosecuted by this anti-graft agency. This is because of their transparency and accountability.
What are your dreams and hopes for Nigeria?
My dreams for this country are to see a country that is united, where there is love, peace, unity and security. A country where there is no shedding of blood and a country where there is no corruption. I also pray to see a country where its leaders will serve the people with dedication, commitment and fear of God. My wish is to see a country where the wishes of the masses will be supreme to the wishes of the leaders.
What is your major desire now?
To thank God and seek the face of the Lord daily for His guidance. Also, my desire is to see a better Nigeria that will bring the dreams of the founding fathers to fulfillment.