Ogbeni Lanre Banjo is a Nigerian politician, a former Governorship Candidate of National Conscience Party (NCP), in Ogun State. He is a known fearless critic, a position which made him a household name globally. In this interview, he bares his mind on number of issues. Enjoy the interview
To what extent have the elite in Nigeria been able to achieve a paradigm shift in the state of the nation from what obtained during years of military era?
Most elite in Nigeria have not been good models. The paradigm shift, in my humble view, has been towards hopelessness; we are not building a nation. Democracy is not being practiced the proper way and has not been entrenched. State governments are not being exemplary to show the way for the Federal government to follow. The challenges in Nigeria, though, should not be confined to the elite alone. The Citizens are the fundamental cause of their albatross. Anytime the electorates regard the most skillful thieves in the society as the most electable into political offices to control their lives, they misplace the right to complain when theft, lies and terrorism become their national doctrine and insecurity becomes pervasive in the country.Finally, for oppressors to be strong, he or she must have accomplices among the oppressed
It took pains and sorrow to restore civil rule following the June 12 debacle. Why we have not succeeded in translating that experience into enduring joy and happiness in the land in 22 years?
Democracy, even though, is the best form of governance,may be dangerous in practice, when and if incompetent and unpatriotic wealthy citizens or ineffectual stooges of the wealthy dominate the playing fields which are legislative, judiciary and executive arms of government. The end result would be retrogression, decadence, dwarfing of status in the comity of nations and in the value of the country’s currency which in turn devalues our worth. Most people at the helms of affairs now did not join in the fight for democracy. Buhari was with Abacha. He uttered no comment when those who were killed during the June 12 logjams, not even when Mrs. Kudirat Abiola was murdered on the street of Lagos. With Muhammadu Buhari in power, the fulanization of the entire country is advanced to a terrible and arrogant stage. Buhari does not see anything good in Southerners,including my brothers and sisters in Benue. The federal governmenthas succeeded in putting the Media houses under their armpit with continuous threats of sanction. How could there be joy and happiness in the land?
As a member of the Nigerian elite, who has been part of the struggle(against) military to the civilian dispensation, don’t you feel a sense of guilt over the predicament of the country? Do you want to absolve yourself from the unmitigated leadership failure in Nigeria and why?
I am not in power and could not share blames. It is not new in Nigeria that our people don’t appreciate brilliance. Buhari started with fighting corruption. At the end, he had to choose between someone else becoming the husband of his beautiful Aisha after they might have succeeded in killing him or keeping the fight for corruption aloft. Do you hear him talk about corruption anymore? Today, every policy of his administration waters corruption. To get or renew international passport is cancerous. Senator Sola Adeyeye of the State of Osun Central Constituencycried out loud about the fraudulent and oligo-military constitution, what can he alone achieve? Senators Smart Adeyemi of Kogi West and Enyinnaya Abaribe of Abia South spoke passionately about the suffocating system, can you blame them about the leadership failure when their colleagues ignore them. Former Senator Sheu Sani was denied the opportunity to return the second time by the powerful unpatriotic element in Kaduna because of his stand on national issues. I serve on the board of one of the Subsidiaries of Odu’A; you need to witness how laws are contemptuously being violated. The public needs to know that many Nigerians have no regards for laws. I wrote several letters apprising members of the Board of the infractions being committed by the heads of Management and the unwary Board Members voted against me until a regulatory body got involved and as we speak they are still violating the laws in an attempt to frustrate me. They don’t listen to the message that I am passing, they hate the messenger with passion because in their views, I am troublesome. As we speak we have a resigned memberof the Board still attending Board meeting and still getting paid. He is a lawyer for that matter. So, my brother, why would I not absolve myself of the decadence in Nigeria after trying my best? I am doing this, risking my life and limb, because of my conviction that Nigeria needs to get better. What can arighteous person achieve in the midst of criminals?
What do you envisage as preparations for the next general elections gradually peak, why and how do you mean?
The driver of Nigeria is fast asleep at the steering. The Igbohos, Kanus and a few others in the ship cried out loud before the ship is wrecked and the driver woke up from the sleeping slumber and ordered the passengers shot, kidnaped and locked up. Nigeria is sinking. My fellow citizens are being butchered in the North. Borno now has two governors and the General in power with his lieutenants purposely refuse to control the insecurity for a reason best known to them. Let us hope there would be Nigeria in 2023. Chief Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory wrote in his book titled “My March Through Prison” “I had also dared to denounce, in no uncertain terms, feudalism and the ethnic hegemony under which one ethnic group arrogates to itself the right to govern the country in perpetuity, and to do what it likes regardless of the feelings of the other ethnic groups in the country”. He and his colleagues wanted the country restructured, the North refused. The Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Beko Kuti and several others continued the struggle and demanded the convocation of Sovereign National Conference, the Northern cabals and their chattels in the South said no. Chief John Nwodo, Papa Edwin Clark, Papa Ayo Adebanjo and others tried lately to demand for restructuring before Nigeria collapse, Buhari called all of them ignorant and maintain that Nigeria would not be restructured. Unless we want to continue to be slaves of Fulanis, all the issues that are holding us down stare at us for resolution before elections.
Listen, the North has perfected the rigging system. They flaunted the rigged numbers of votes in Kaduna and Kano in 2019 and claimed that the total numbers of votes in Kano and Kaduna are greater than the total numbers of votes in the six states in the Southwest. That was achieved by bringing the Fulanis from Mali, Niger Republic and Chad to Nigeria and now they are bold and arrogant enough to say power would not rotate to the South. The South is not homogeneous and they understand that. One may argue that the North is not homogenous also, but they have outsmarted us by ensuring the tentacles of ourHausa brethren have been clutched to submission. The only section, not under the arms of the North, is Benue and we all witness how they are killing our people there to subjugate them. If Governor Samuel Ortom has not summoned up courage to withstand the Fulanis, the Fulani Oligarchy would have been extended to Benue. Therefore when it is the turn of the North, only Fulani can emerge because they have argued that North Central is not north enough because the oligarchy has not conquered the North Central. Here in the South, there would be agitation between the Yoruba, Ibo and my people in the South South and the Fulani with their calculated attempt would stoke that agitation and problems would ensue in the South. Anyone who emerges in the South cannot choose someone from the North Central for the reason mentioned earlier- the Sarakis and Ortoms are not North enough. An agitation would begin again in North Central. No Southern President can solve the problems of the porous borders in the North where you can cross gutters from Niger Republic to Kebbi or Katsina to vote. Buhari has strengthened and further facilitated rigging using our resources to connect rail line to Niger republic where his cousins are. Guess what, the home negro from the South who is the Minister is proud of that nonsense and the National Assembly authorized the badly needed resources in Nigeria to be spent in Niger Republic. So the system has been so perfected in a way that Fulani would always be in power either as the President or Vice President. In other words the North has been clandestinely made uniform. These and many more reasons are why people agitate for self-determination.
Are you in support of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho’s movements for self-determination?
They are leading our liberation. It is our movements. What choice do we have? Sit down and let Fulanis conquer us just like they conquered our Hausa brethren? Listen, there is nothing Fulanis desire that they have not got. Nigeria got independence on October 1, when they were ready and on the day they spiritually chose. After the reprisal coup of 1966, they clandestinely pushed the middle belt forward to lead when they imposed Gowon over his superiors with T. Y. Danjuma leading the efforts to deal with Aguiyi Ironsi and Adekunle Fajuyi. From Murtala Muhammed who was a Fulani Genawa clan, till today all the Nigerian presidents from the North have been Fulanis. The southerners among them are their stooges. Col. Buka Suka Dimka led coup failed partly because those involved in the coup were mostly officers from the North Central region.They wanted the capital moved to the North, they got it. They manipulated all of us with the use of bandit instead of Fulani herders, they got it. They desired to occupy most positions hiding under national characters, they got it. They don’t want us to talk about the evil of this government, kidnapping, terrorism etc.; they used NBC to get it. Traditional rulers are not exempt. The Sultan of Sokoto is the Chairman of all the Traditional Rulers, and the leader of the Muslims. It is not rotational. All the Southern Obas and Obis, including Alafin of Oyo, Oni of Ife, Obi of Onitsha and one of the most respectable Kings in Nigeria, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpol, Oba Ewuare II have to cue behind the Sultan. This is the kind of stinking nonsense that the South has endured for years. The North banned teacher training institutionsin the country but changed the name and established teacher training in the North. This conceit is not solely their fault.
Who shared some of these faults?
The British laid the strong foundation for the Hausa-Fulani hegemony in Nigeria. The principle guiding the Cabal was clearly set forth by the sect’s patron, Sir Ahmadu Bello who said to the media: “The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the north as willing tools and the south as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to have control over their own future.” They destroyed the Southern educational system. Here we are, they don’t want us to know our history and thus banned the teaching of history in the country. Now, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu refurbished the Arewa House Library. Governor Sanwoolu at the inauguration said “it was heart-warming that the center has not only provided documentation of the history and culture ofthe people, it has also provided abundant materials and resources on contemporary studies on policy, peace and leadership”. He is “glad that a center as this exists in Northern Nigeria and in Nigeria at large to document historical occurrences that both we in this present and even the future generations can learn from to either avoid repeating certain mistakes or to provide us with knowledge to act better in the future.” They did not chase the governors away that they did not want to know about their history, yet history is banned in the country. I can only blame the Sothern Governors. If I were a governor, they would not dictate to me what could be taught in any school in my State. Thank God, Governor Ortom has told them to kiss the dust on that issue. Buhari is implementing Ahmadu Bello’s agenda. The resources in the South are nationalized and Gold found in Zamfara belongs to Zamfara. Enough of this cheating! Enough of the nonsense!
Your views on Nnamdi Kalu’s re-arrest after jumping bail?
These inequitable treatments of Nigerians produced Nnamdi Kanu. Now you arrested and charged him to Court. He was granted a bail, before the next court date, the Buhari’s administration attempted to kill him, and in that attempt killed 28 defenseless citizens in his house in Afaraukwu, Umuahia, Abia State. The Army’s tendentious defense was that it was on a military exercise in the South East, tagged “Operation Python Dance 2”. This python selectively “danced” in the South East, South West and Middle Belt. Criminal elements in the core North are exempted from this dance. First question, did the government prosecuting him need his dead body to appear in court? Second question, if you are Nnamdi Kalu, would you allow life to be snuffed out of you because ofbail conditions? In legal parlance, it could be said that he jumped bail, but realistically, he ran to save his life and continued to fight on.
On Attack of Igboho
I have not felt so sad due to events in Nigeria after the brutal assassination of Mrs. Kudirat Abiola, Pa Rewane and the barefaced killings of the EndSARS protesters. The attack on Sunday’s housewas one of my saddest days and the illicit declaration of Igboho wanted by the SSS is disgusting, uncivilized and it is the height of contemptuous governmental hooliganism. Buhari is known for his barbaric cruelty. But I thought his nearing the grave would begin to make him respect the creatures of God. In this unsecured nation, how could a government agents break into a citizen’s home in unholy hour, vandalized vehicles, shot an innocent person 48 times before they scattered his head with a mortal, killed a gentleman caught praying, dragged their dead bodies away, arrested innocent residents and visitors including a woman, destroyed his home, killed his cats and then took his personal belongings. First, Buhari’s Minister of Defense urged us to defend ourselves. Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State echoed the position of the Minister of Defense by urging his citizens to defend themselves. How does Igboho’s traditional bullet proofs procured to defend himself and carted away from his home become illegal and exhibit when the government already said we are on our own, it can’t protect us. Secondly, when government’s agents resulted into illegalentry into a private citizen’s home at 1am vandalizing properties, what kind of behavior are they inculcating in citizens and the men of under the world?I expect all the SANS in his administration to address the public to justify the arrest and killing of Igboho’s cat and the result of their investigation of Igboho’ arrested cat. Thirdly, you expect a mature leader to denounce this barbaric act even if those involved are not punished. Buhari encourages terrorizing the citizens of Nigeria and that is wicked. There in the North, those who are maiming and killing my fellow Nigerians are protected. Buhari was even bold enough to pay them through the unofficial Minister of State for Bandit Sheikh Ahmad Gumi. He was bold enough to say that Boko Haram should be sent abroad and treated the same way the Niger Deltans fighting for their resources were treated. Igboho and the rest of us supporting Yoruba Nation just freely assembled just like Buhari attended Sharia rally in 2001 and said he will continue to show openly and within him commitment to Sharia movement, and the response was assassination. A Fulani bandit who did not hide his face boasted about the numbers of Nigerian soldiers he killed, nothing has been done.
Boko Haram/ISWAP announced to a puzzled Nation that they have appointed a Governor for parts of Borno state, by name Abba-Kaka with jurisdiction over 5 LGS while leaving 22 LGS for Governor Babagana Zulum. They even set up a full blown government with normal structures of a government within a sovereign Nigeria with names mentioned, DSS did nothing about it. Buhari soldiers did not attack them as they attacked Igboho’s home.
On the Southwest Governor’s Communiqué
That was bold and applaudable. They wittingly expressed our collective disgust. They need to seize the moment and insist on their rights as the Chief Security of their States. They should not allow our Northern brethren to bully them to submission. Everything they have said, our Northern Governors had said and there was no negative response from the Northern opinion molders. The moment Southern leaders speak, they shout. As a matter of fact, it is insulting and dwarfing for the Southern Governors to grant a request for meetings with Abubakar Malami, the Buhari and the Northerners Attorney General. If he calls for a meeting, they should send their State Attorney Generals; they should not be dignifying the incompetent Attorney. After all, part of the North Central used to be West Central before the North arrogantly cornered and declared it as part of the North, so they should extend warm arms to Governor Ortom to join their forum. Also, if Buhari remains intransigent, we should protest to hold the remittance of revenues from the states to the Federal Government.
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