The National Coordinator of the O’odua Peoples Congress, Gani Adams, has defended his support of former President Goodluck Jonathan at the last general election saying that he was exercising his franchise.
In an interview with journalists at his Lagos home, Friday, Mr. Adams insisted that his bias for Mr. Jonathan notwithstanding, the OPC were not partisan at the election.
“We don’t believe that anything we did during the election was wrong,” said Mr. Adams, who heads a faction of the OPC.
“It’s matter of ideological decision. Assuming we go to full partisanship, it could be worse than that. You did not see me during the election putting on PDP clothes, you did not see me in the election at the rally of PDP.
“But I, Otunba Gani Adams, as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, am I not more than 18 years? I’m 45. And we have many who are above 45, according to the Constitution they have the right to exercise their franchise to the candidate of their choice. And that does not mean that you belong to any political party.
“Why should I regret at the age of 45 to vote for someone? In any democracy, it’s either you win or you lose. Jonathan has moved on from the election. He’s the one being assigned by AU to monitor the election in Tanzania which was free and fair. Let them be shouting about Jonathan and shouting about Gani Adams. They have to face their own music and their problem now. If you are not in power people will not see you, you are in power what will you give to the people now.”
Mr. Adams justified the OPC’s procession in Lagos just before the general election saying it was in protest of an impending faulty electoral process.
“Now the table has changed. Some of them that abused us online cannot come out again. They don’t know what to say,” he said.
“You now see that they were not trying to drive Jonathan based on ideology, they want the power in the centre because of economical reasons. And most of them, Buhari has told them that you are not getting the kind of system you got from Jonathan. I’m not the kind of person that will give you dollars when you come to my office, it’s handshake and photograph.”
In an over an hour long interview, the OPC leader addressed a wide range of issues ranging from the activities of Fulani herdsmen in the southwest to the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.
He, however, pointedly declined to speak on Eze Ndigbo controversy in the southwest.
”It’s something we can call uncalled for, for you to kidnap Chief Olu Falae. After kidnapping… after they took ransom from Falae family, maybe from Ondo state government, they released him,” said Mr. Adams.
“Four or three days after, they raided his farm again, they destroyed a lot of things that worth more than 7 – 10 million naira. Any sensible and reliable race will not fold his arm and keep quiet on incident like that.
”I have never heard of a Yoruba kidnapping a commoner, not to talk of personality in the north. They respect the norms and customs of their host community. It’s an insult to kidnap Olu Falae.”
Mr. Adams frowned at the statement by Rabiu Kwankwaso, the immediate past governor of Kano State, who while at a function in Ibadan condemned the position of some Yoruba leaders calling for the sack of Fulani herdsmen in the southwest.
“He does not have the right to condemn our position,” he said.
“We have heard enough from the Arewa Consultative Forum and I have never seen Kwankwaso condemning the act of Boko Haram in the history of this country. God has a way of doing things. This is Kwankwaso who was aspiring to be the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria. For him to support those who kidnap in the southwest, definitely he could have not been a good leader if he becomes a president.
“I think when you issue a statement you must not think about today, think about future. And we are in the world of technology, there is nothing you said that is missing. They will just Google it out.
“So I will advise Kwankwaso that Yoruba is too sensitive for him to just rise up and condemn a statement of about 24 organizations, talking about the personality of Pa Olanihun Ajayi, Ayo Adebanjo, General Adeyinka Adebayo, and many elders on the seat.
“That was the first meeting. So definitely you can’t just do that. He came directly to make that statement in Ibadan. Can anybody go to north, to Kano to make a statement against Arewa Consultative Forum in Kano or Kaduna and that person will not be lynched?”
On how to end attacks of Fulani herdsmen around the country, Mr. Adams called on President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the recommendations of the National Conference.
”To solve the problem is for the federal government to look into the 633 recommendations of the National Conference. I think the recommendations of the National Conference (go) beyond a very good security arrangement. Because when you are talking about state police, it’s one of the factors out of seven factors that will solve insecurity in this country,” said Mr. Adams.
“There’s no way Buhari can move this country forward without approving the recommendation. We will be deceiving ourselves. How many thieves can Buhari (arrest)? How many people can he jail? By November 29 he will clock six months in power, and that’s one out of eight slots.
“And most of the people in that Senate, they want to make money, some of them who are not governor, to become a governor. How many of them will you fight?”
The OPC leader also appealed to the president to soft-pedal on his “draconian” policies.
”I’m just appealing to the president to take his policies softly, because we have a lot of policy now that is coming out,” Mr. Adams said.
“When you see somebody in the airport, travelling, you see 4,000 in his pocket, you start questioning him. ‘Where do you get the money?’ Some people miss their flights in the process. They call them presidential task force in Customs. I’m not saying we should not sanitize the society, but we should not intimidate those who come to this country for holiday and going back, and intimidate them at the end of the day they would refuse to come to their country anymore.
“We are still appealing to them. When we go for launching of OPU we appeal to our people in Diaspora, come back home. Not the information they are giving to you is happening in Nigeria. We don’t say any negative thing when we are in abroad to our people. We normally encourage them but with this policy, they have been calling us that the policy they are making, ‘we are not drug barons, we are working in abroad. When we are going back, a little money we have in our pocket they will take it from us, they will harass us.’
“It even happened to my wife. She was going to Turkey, just to buy some little things. They marked (her) down in the road and started questioning her for a period of 45 minutes. She called me that she hasn’t witnessed something like this, I talked to the officer, luckily the officer was a very moderate person. She’s my wife. We never involve in any nefarious activities in our life. This is just the wife of a freedom fighter, civil society person. You can imagine people that come from background that do not have somebody to call in that regard.
“Nobody wants law to be bent. But we must not use a draconian policy to suffer our people. I think people vote for change to enjoy their country. The president should know that those who vote for him he should not descend on them to the extent that they regret voting for him.”