Yinka Odumakin, national publicity secretary of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, has said that whereas the late Obafemi Awolowo, former premier of the western region, was arguably a leader of the Yoruba nation, Olusegun Obasanjo, former president, and Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor, did not fit into the mould of leaders of the Yoruba race.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with BD SUNDAY, Odumakin alleged that Obasanjo and Tinubu were lacking the integrity and moral values to assume leadership role of the Yoruba race.
The political activist frowned at the claim in some quarters that the duo have since stepped into the “big shoe” left by Awolowo and insists that Obasanjo and Tinubu were only pursuing their “inordinate ambition”.
“It is an insult on Awolowo for Tinubu and his likes to claim to be ‘Awoist’. Awo would turn in the grave when Tinubu or his followers begin to compare him with the likes of Tinubu. In what area is the current politicians in the south west are like Awolowo? Is it in vision? Is it in character? So, when he comes to leadership, we will now move from Awolowo to Tinubu?” he said.
He said painful to “true Yoruba” in the current political dispensation was that the seat Abraham Adesanya occupied while in the Senate, is the same seat that Buruji Kashamu, who is fighting to halt his extradition to the United States over drug offences allegation is occupying in the 8th National Assembly.
“These are some of the tragedies that Nigeria has visited on Yoruba politics in terms of assaults on our value; where leadership is about character, about integrity, about vision. In Yoruba land, leadership is not bought; bent; is not something you rig or achieve through judicial pronouncements. To these set of politicians, it is a game of money. But in terms of values these people do not represent Yoruba people; leadership that is devaluing our people on daily basis. Ninety (90) percent of lawmakers in the south west cannot even express themselves; people with criminal background; people without pedigree; people who are uneducated; semi-illiterates; and that is the leadership somebody is promoting deliberately,” he said.
According to him, former President Obasanjo represents negative influence on the Yoruba politics, and that given the opportunities God has given him to preside over the affairs of the country for 11 years, and that by now, Obasanjo should have been an institution people would go to and blossom at his feet.
“Obasanjo should have been Nigeria’s Lee Kuan Yew, but he messed up on the altar of inordinate ambition, ego and squander-mania. His history balance at his twilight is negative because at the last meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors, they were talking about Excess Crude Account. Obasanjo started it. When you know that the likely project is that oil will sell at $60, you now benchmarked at $40. All the differences that now come between what you have used as benchmark you go and put in an account you don’t need any appropriation before spending and call it ‘excess’. But we know it is excess corruption. He was petroleum minister in this country for most of his eight years. What happened? We know how much he sunk into the power sector. What happened to the money? It was under him they were displaying money on the table of the National Assembly; bribing money. We saw how money was flying at the National Assembly over Obasanjo’s third term agenda,” he said.
Asked to comment on the power tussle currently rocking the ruling APC over the emergence of Bukola Saraki, and Yakubu Dogara, as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representative respectively, he said: “Bola Tinubu, who plays ludo game in Lagos, now went to Abuja to play chess, only to be defeated and watched the inauguration of the 8th Assembly on television. That can never be a Yoruba leader”.
Odumakin, who also said that party politics was dead in the country, explained that the desire to serve self had blighted the essence of service to the people of Nigeria, adding that some individuals had turned political parties into avenue to amass wealth and influence.
According to him, “Half of PDP decamped to a party and you called it APC! Before the elections all of them raised a bunch of broom and shouted ‘change’. But it is no longer a bunch of broom. It is rather, one stick of broom. Where is the change coming from? Who is giving change to whom? We saw the characters that were talking change; most of them have been in power for over 16 years. We know their system and where most of them are coming from. What binds them together was the common hatred for Jonathan. Anybody that says Jonathan is a fool is a ‘progressive’. Now that there is no Jonathan anymore, the weapons that were used against Jonathan have to be used against themselves in sharing the loots. We have only seen them boxing themselves. In due course, we will see them carrying cutlasses and bazookas. There is no party in Nigeria at the moment.”