Ayo Adebanjo, Afenifere chieftain and elder statesman, has commended former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar for advocating restructuring of the country as he openly declared his readiness to work with him and other progressive forces to get President Muhammadu Buhari out of power in 2019.
The former VP was in Lagos on a working visit to connect with political leaders and stakeholders in the Southwest ahead of the PDP Presidential primary holding in October.
Adebanjo, speaking at his Lagos residence while receiving the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential forerunner, said: “I am sending a message; I am not making a speech. Your positive stand in restructuring is your strength and this is working in your favour among the progressives.
“Before 2014 National Conference, you have been writing and speaking on regionalism and advocating restructuring. Ever since then, you have not relented. This shows consistency.
“Buhari has lost the integrity in him. We supported in 2014. Afenifere openly campaigned for him because we thought he is a man of his words. He promised he believed in restructuring and even signed an agreement to that effect, but set it aside on getting to power”.
“I am not in APC and neither am I in PDP but my candidate is anybody who can get rid of Buhari,” the nonagenarian said.
Besides, he asked: “In the first republic, the trio of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief all agreed on the issue of regionalism then. Why would Buhari then set it aside? Can he say he is wiser than the Sardauna?”
Adebanjo, who stated that he took an active part in building the foundation of restructuring charged those who are sincere with the country to unite with other forces to get Buhari out of power. “He is the only obstacle in the APC. He is the stumbling block,” he said.
He, however, appealed to the PDP to be united if they really want to push out the incumbent President because he will not submit power easily.
“You are all formidable forces who can take Buhari out and this you must do because the consequences will be too bad if he retains power in 2019.
Earlier, in his address, Abubakar, expressing his fears for Nigeria’s future said: “in all my political career, I have not seen Nigeria in a state of real danger that may affect its existence as a country as we are having now. Young people are frustrated. It is like a time bomb.
“This is why I am appealing to distinguished leaders of Afenifere. Nigeria is bedevilled with a lot of challenges and there is no way we can resolve the challenges than to resolve the issue of restructuring.
Nigeria, he said, has all the potential to provide leadership in not only the West African sub-region and Africa but globally.
“There was a time I delivered a lecture in Kaduna where former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) agreed to my position on restructuring. It is the reality. I am speaking my mind and I still maintain that position. I have said it repeatedly even when I was in government as the vice-president. I don’t think there is any part of the country that is opposed to this position.
“Left to me the federal government do not need more than ten or twelve lists. The rest should be handled by respective regions or zones as it operates in the United Arabs Emirate, UAE.
“I had the best of public education and that was in the First Republic when we were not dependent on oil.”
Thanking the leaders of Afenifere at the meeting, Abubakar stressed that all is not lost and they should not relent on their collective efforts to get Nigeria back on track.
“We have lost our leadership in West Africa. Countries like Ghana and Burkina Fasso are laughing at us as a nation.
“I have noticed this a long time ago. We must urgently address and fix the great decline in leadership so that we can survive as a nation.
“It is either you join me or I join you or we both work together to structure the country together and leave to our children a better and prosperous country which we can be proud of.”
In his vote of thanks, Gbenga Daniel, the director general of the Atiku Campaign Organisation and former Governor of Ogun State, expressed the appreciation of the campaign team for the warm reception and the positive, encouraging comments from the leadership of Afenifere present. He also reiterated the fact that the country is facing a big challenge especially in the area of leadership and this is why the Southwest as a geopolitical zone must be proactive in the emergence of a leader who will provide the leadership that will be beneficial to not only the Yoruba nation but the country as a whole and that is why the former VP is offering himself for service of his fatherland.
Chieftains of Afenifere at the meeting included Femi Okurohunmu, Wande Ibitoye, Amos Akingba, Dipo Sonibare and Olaitan. Others were Abdu Ningi, Yaya Abubakar, Hakeem Gbajabiamila, Abdulahi Nyako, Kola Are, Adamu Atiku Abubakar and Aminu Atiku Abubakar among other distinguished guests.