Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the national leader of pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, on Wednesday said the group will not support the presidency bid of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, or that of any other candidate.
Adebanjo, who made this known when he spoke with newsmen, two days after Tinubu officially declared his ambition, said the group will not back any candidate for the 2023 elections except Nigeria is restructured.
He said while Tinubu has right to vie for the highest office in the land, the minimum demand for Afenifere to take part in the 2023 election was for the constitution to be changed and the country restructured.
When asked his views about Tinubu’s declaration, he said, “Your man has every right to contest the election. He is not disabled. So what is the big deal about that? We are not contending who is the president now because we don’t believe in the constitution that we have. Until that constitution is changed, then we will talk about where the president will be.
“We have no candidate now until that constitution is changed because I don’t want to go on an uncharted sea. That is the implication now.
“You must believe in the constitution before you say I want to be a part of it. I am not going to be part of the constitution or election that operates a military constitution.
“That’s the bone of contention and which President (Muhammadu) Buhari himself has not disputed. The constitution we have is a military one.”
Adebanjo also told former President Olusegun Obasanjo that Niger Delta resources do not belong to Nigeria but to the people of the region.
He stated that the statement credited to Obasanjo on the issue was provocative and a catalyst to Nigeria break-up.
He wondered when Obasanjo asserted that the Niger Delta resources are not owned by Niger Delta but Nigeria, if he was suggesting that God created the resources in Niger Delta when Nigeria came into existence in 1914, or if it was there before the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorates?
He appealed to the former president to join hands with the other patriots to bring pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure a change in the present constitution by restructuring the country to the federal system agreed to by the founding fathers of the nation before the 2023 elections to enable the nation move forward.
He said, “When I first heard the statement that the Niger Delta resources are not owned by Niger Delta but by Nigeria credited to Olusegun Obasanjo, I thought he was quoted out of context. But when I read in a newspaper, crediting the statement to him citing the constitution as the source for making the statement with such magisterial authority, I rushed to read the main story to know which constitution he was relying upon. I was curious to know whether it was the independence constitution or any other document.
“I was shocked and highly disappointed that Obasanjo was quoting profusely from the military imposed constitution on the country, a constitution that has been described as fraudulent and rejected since its introduction,” he said.
The Afenifere leader said that an attempt by Chief Edwin Clark to put the record straight was rebuffed by a statement by Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) supporting the statement by Obasanjo.
“I owe a duty to our founding fathers to throw some light on the historical constitutional evolution of the country to help us move Nigeria forward.
“With my recent interaction with Obasanjo, I can appreciate his passion for a united Nigeria. But a united Nigeria doesn’t exist from his own perspective and understanding only. Nigeria has existed before he became the president of the country with our founding fathers with equally great passion if not greater passion for a united Nigeria,” he said.
He added, “Our colonial masters brought the various ethnic nationalities together through various constitutional reforms under a unitary form of government from 1914 to 1950 under Macpherson Constitution when Nigeria was divided into three regions namely Northern region, Western region and Eastern region. The Macpherson Constitution, which was supposed to last five years under a unitary system, collapsed in 1953 following a motion by the late Chief Anthony Enahoro for self-government for Nigeria in 1956.
“The colonial secretary, Sir. Oliver Lyttleton, later known as Lord Chandos, summoned the political leaders, our founding fathers, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo to Lancaster House in London. It was at this conference that the defect in Macpherson unitary constitution was dissected and they settled for a federal constitution which became operative in 1954 with the establishment of the three autonomous regions headed by a Premier. The provision of this federal constitution with some amendments was incorporated in the 1960 and 1963 Independence Constitution. The residual powers in the constitution are reserved for the federating autonomous regions,” Adebanjo said.
According to him, revenue allocation was agreed to be on derivation, which is now referred to as resource control with the payment of 50 percent (section 140, 1963 Constitution) to the region where the revenue was derived. It was a two tier federal system with the state government being co-ordinate and not subordinate to the Federal Government.