According to a report by ThisDay, despite the reported discord between them, the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Lagos State Governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, has revealed that it was Chief Ayo Adebanjo who made him governor of Lagos because if it was not for the man’s impeccable integrity, he would not have been governor.
Speaking yesterday in Lagos during the launch of a book titled: ‘Telling It As It Is’, an autobiography commemorating the 90th birthday of a prominent Yoruba and Afenifere leader, Adebanjo; Tinubu said but for the elder statesman, he wouldn’t have become Lagos State governor “because some forces within his party, Alliance for Democracy (AD), at that time had set out to replace him as the party’s candidate fraudulently.”
Tinubu, who said he attended the event particularly to eulogise the good virtues of the elder statesman, said: “If not because of his honesty and integrity, I would not have become the governor of the state. Adebanjo said no to electoral rigging. As the acting chairman of the AD, he said direct primary is the answer-that every registered member must participate in our primary- and when the result came, some people tried to manipulate it and altered the result. Adebanjo stood his ground and said as the acting national chairman of the party, the result of the fair and free primary must be upheld, and that was in my favour.
“If he were corrupt, they were ready to pay him. If he were a corrupt national leader, he would have taken money, compromised the result and submit another name.
“That is the only testimony I will come to give. That is the truth I came to tell. He upheld the result as being the most free and fair primary held in AD at that particular time.
“May God Almighty continue to bless you! Continue on your principled path of integrity and great character-path of honesty that represents the value of our race of the democrats and your committed allies.”
Adebanjo has been a die-hard advocate of true federalism and agreeing with him on that democratic principle, Tinubu said: “If you don’t understand him, you might say he is divisive, but what is the meaning of restructuring if not true federalism and if not about freedom and opportunity for each federating unit to come up with their blueprints, govern and promote the unity of this country?
“What is the meaning of restructuring if not about the resources, management and opportunity for federalism in any democratic setting? I agree with him on that. He has been a father to all of us in politics. He is committed to that principle of democratisation in this country. He is ready to pay the supreme price for it as some of us, including me standing before you.”
The APC chieftain did not hide the fact that there had been a no-love-lost relationship between him and Adebanjo, but he maintained that in spite of that, he holds him in high esteem.
“I respect you. You are a mentor to me. We can disagree, because you taught me rebellion, so, if I go the other way sometimes that means I am not a bastard. I have a good father to emulate. No matter what you say, you can’t but praise, honour and respect him for his principled stance on issues of the country,”Tinubu said.
Also describing Adebanjo as a leader who’s truly passionate about Nigeria, who still displays strength and commitment to the country at 90, former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, said he has no doubt that if Nigeria had remained under the four regions, the country would have been better now, saying: “The country was doing well in those days.”
He maintained that the military disfigured the Nigeria political structure by taking over the government and staying in power for many years.
The 90-year-old Adebanjo, a front line advocate of a restructured Nigeria who has been very critical of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government, said he remains politically active because of the qualities of training he got from the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and the absence of development in Nigeria.
“With the way we are living in Nigeria, there is no reason for us to be poor. There should be no reason for us to be unemployed.
“I was in Maiduguri with Awolowo in 1979 in a helicopter. We were going round on campaign and he looked over all the green lands and said: ‘Ayo, it is criminal to have unemployment in this country.’
“The government today no longer act on any manifesto. Both the APC and the PDP, what will you say they stand for rather than say ‘you stole money, I did not steal money? That is not the question! What do you do to put food on the table of the people?” He queried.
Prominent leaders from across the country, including the vice president during the Ibrahim Babangida military government from 1985 to 1986, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe; former Ogun State Governor, Olusegun Osoba; 2011 running mate to President Buhari and founder of Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare; former Ogun State Deputy Governor, Mr. Gbenga Kaka; former Ekiti State Governor, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo; renowned industrialist, Chief Pius Akinyelure, and several others were at the event.
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