This is the concluding part of Mr. Yinka Odumakin’s interview with us which started last week.
I remember in 2014 when we were in the National Conference and we brought out the idea of state police and our colleagues in from the north opposed it. The day we were to discuss this matter, the nation newspaper did a report. You would believe the photograph until you read the caption of the photograph you won’t know it is not Nigeria police. So I got a copy to delegate how can you say state governors with constitutional powers cannot fund state police. That conference approved state police. The sharia police goes around arresting people, the sharia that has not been recognised can form its police, how much more the states empowered by the law.
The south west and the Ohaneze pulling out of the summit, do you see anything coming out of it?
Afenifere, Ohaneze, four of us pulled out. Abdulsalami was saying dialogue is a continuum… we have made it clear that we are ready to dialogue provided it is well organised. When we saw we were to go to Minna, it is a two hours, we had our tickets but we asked the General we want to know who and who we are going to meet; the invited guests. Then, on that list, we saw some traditional rulers like six of them from the north, one from the east, one from South South, no traditional ruler from the South West.
No one from South West?
The one invited from South East. Our colleagues from the Eouth East said they don’t even know him. He invited Spiff who also had a military background but in the north, he invited the Shehu of Borno but we were even ready to overlook all that. We saw that Chief of Defence Staff, DSS, etc were there to show that the government supports the programme. One of the reasons we even went to honour him was that if the government of Nigeria has compromised itself, if it is Abdulsalami calling the meeting, a former Head of State, we said okay. If a man sees a snake and a woman kills it, the thing is the snake is dead. As long as if the government has not compromised itself by leaving behind one ethnic group that was why we went to honour him. When we now saw the people invited, some people boycotted the meeting because he invited some Fulani associations. It is not just because he invited them but because he lumped them together with us. He said some cultural groups; Afenifere, Ohaneze, PANDEF, Middle Belt Forum, Northern elders forum, Miyetti Allah and Grand Allied Fulani Development Association. If Miyeti Allah has not been accused of all violent crimes, raping, killing etc trespass they are a trade association like pig farmers, poultry farmers, carpenters’ association etc, how do you now elevate them to our level We would have even ignored it if not that some few years back, Garba Shehu, spokesman of Buhari came on air to say that Miyetti Allah is equivalent to Afenifere and others. A group that in 2015 was numbered in global terror index as the fourth deadliest group in the world who are wielding AK7 around Nigeria unregulated, unlicensed and who are opened up to killing in Benue then. Agatu massacre happened they claimed responsibility, El-Rufai once said its foreign Fulani people killing people, officials of the government, ministry of defence said that Miyeti Allah were killing people because their cows have been killed, you now say that we should come and sit down with them. If you say they are trade groups now they are killing people around Nigeria, that is dragging ourselves in the mud. We will not compromise our values and our dignity.
Do you see that conference coming with anything far reaching?
Even if we were there, the conference will not have achieved the recommendations because of Abdulsalami who had reputation. Buhari appears to be more interested only in RUGA, Fulani radio…
But he has suspended RUGA…
But the government said it has suspended the National livestock plan…
Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, in his letter was clear, what was suspended was the unilateral implementation of RUGA. By unilateral it means RUGA is not going to be implemented by the original design, which is to cease land from parts of the country that they already gazetted land from all over Nigeria for RUGA. Where does he want to get land from all over Nigeria for RUGA? Where does he wan to get land for RUGA? The only place he can get land for RUGA is the FCT. I think Garba Shehu committed that gaffe when he realised it was an error .Land Use Act to take control of land. It is all about RUGA. RUGA is Hausa word for house settlement. Who could have imagined that Obasanjo as president of Nigeria would have said something like that, our brothers in the north wouldn’t have accepted it. If Jonathan had come with RUGA in his own language they wouldn’t have accepted it. Federal government came with FADAMA many people did not know that FADAMA is Hausa language for irrigation. RUGA is their Hausa word for cattle settlement and the whole agenda is to grab land and expand territory of Fulani along Fulanisation agenda that Obasanjo is talking about. Cow is valuable business, the boys who are ruing after cattle all over the place are not owners of the cattle. They are just labourers because and which is also a part of the problems of Nigeria. In fact, that is why Nigeria cannot work under the present arrangement. The situation of Nigeria were there is a system that confines mass majority to a life of ignorance because the billionaires who own the cattle can they ask their children to be following cows from Sokoto to Akure? If they want their children to be doing cattle business they would put them in ranches where they would take expanse of land and their children will just be enjoying their lives but when they have confined their people to a life of ignorance that is why that mass will be running after cattle all over the country and any educated person with sense will know that in this age and time it doesn’t make sense running after cattle all over the place. They would say our cattle route our cattle so and so and Nigeria can only get out of this when everybody is allowed to develop at his own pace, run its own affairs you have a child now that child is six, you know the amount of money you have invested, you cannot compute the amount of money spent on that child, now till that child you have been sending him to school at the age of one, then a child that has started begging at the age of one with bowl in his hand, you call that one almajiri, the child you have been sending to nursery school at the age of one and that one begging can not understand each other. If one says let us take left the other one would say l us take right, they want to go to the university one has score 40, you say go and sit down that is what is happening in Nigeria so but unfortunately under the Buhari administration the best of Nigeria is being dragged. In the last four years, the best decision we have had in this country is about cattle route, grazing reserves, RUGA and cattle business and people who don’t know Nigeria are saying it is business when many people today don’t even touch beef because it is not healthy for them. And that is why I think this government has taken a decision and it is Abdulsalami that is calling peace meeting and not the government. Obasanjo has said that this country is moving to Rwanda style situation.
You don’t see the summit that ended as any panacea who exactly do you think is the problem with Nigeria?
When we went to the summit, it is just two zones of the country, North West and east; it cannot look at the situation of the country. The whole platform has been robbed of its shine because it does not represent the people.
Do you see the situation getting to that Rwanda level?
It is very easy to do but we are much more reasonable and considerate, we look though all sides of the issue before we take decision and when we take the decision it is the last resort because we know what it means. Those kind of calls preceded the civil war of 1967, so we have a sense of history, we are not out to destroy this country and that is why we will not rush to such calls, we only make such calls. If it becomes clear that our lives are endangered and safety cannot be guaranteed and as self-preservation we will not use such as a bargaining tool, we don’t behave like that.
When you look at Afenifere, the division appears to be getting deeper…
Some people went to the president recently led by Senator Ayo Fasanmi and we had chief Reuben Fasoranti after the thing that happened to him seems to make them come together especially when there is an external threat.
The Yorubas seem to come together, do you foresee us having the Afenifere we had before 2003, a robust Afenifere?
Afenifere remains Afenifere, there is an attempt to fake Afenifere today, Afenifere is the brand in the south west, over the years there have been different groups that emerged but they have fizzled out. Afenifere brand remains strong. That is why those who have vowed they would never belong to Afenifere again can go to the villa, when they get there they didn’t call themselves Miyeti Allah, they still called themselves Afenifere. That is brand that cannot be ignored. We are not angry about that. If they are Afenifere and they want to belong now and say they are aggrieved and want to set up another one, you’ll see there is a crisis but unfortunately those who are trying to go and fake Afenifere, we are happy the name is attractive to use. The man behind the so called peace is Bola Tinubu,in 2004 it was myself, himself, Senator Ayo Fasanmi and the late Senator Abraham Adesanya. We were in Senator Abraham Adesanya’s sitting room in Apapawhen he said he will never have anything to do with Afenifere in his life so far Adebiyi is there, Col Ajayi is there, if that man now packs some people, when you see Tinubu, Ajimobi all APC people,Durojaiye who is their appointee there is no body in that list who is not a card carrying member who is not APC operator and there we are talking about integrity. In all Yoruba has seen in the last four years, the herdsmen issues, have you heard any of them speak in support of Yoruba position? Even when FunkeLakunrin was killed, the only person that spoke in that group was Senator Bola Tinubu and what did he say? He went to Akure to dance on the grave of Funke, he said people were saying herdsmen killed them where are the cows?
Right from independence they always like to divide the Yorubas. Remember in the time of Abacha they had the likes of them who tried to support Afenifere but for those people that went to the villa they know they have no energy. What they can do is to go there to say they are not Afenifere.
You have fought Asiwaju and Buhariwhen they were campaigning in 2015, what exactly do you have against them?
Well, I am not against them. For me I deal with issues and like a great philosopher once said, you may be my friend but truth is my greater friend. I am a friend to a lot of people in Nigeria but I am not belonging to any friend but to principles. If my wife, my father, my brother stand against my belief, I will stand against them. So President Buhari is not my enemy, we lived in the same house, we worked together in 2011. If I run to him today I will give him all the courtesy, he is my president. But I have disagreement with him on principles; I have disagreement with him in running the affairs of Nigeria. For Senator Tinubu I recalled that in 1999, the first time I would know him was in 1992 when my friend Gbemiga Ogunleye who used to be in Daily Times that time was running his media. When he wanted to go to the senate in 1992, he brought some materials to me, I had not met him then. That was the first time I would hear about anybody called Bola Tinubu. It was later on in 1992. Then 93/94 came, June 12 and the rest. He was in Nigeria before he went into exile, he was in NADECO then, in 1999 he was my candidate. In fact the first TV add he had he had for his campaign was my concept which I did for him. He called Pat Nebo, he set the crew, I would spend all night to record him. When the campaign started, I had a printing press in Surulere and I saw that the materials they were printing for him then and I saw the rate people who were his friends who were closer to him were doing for him, I said I would do it at a quarter of what they were doing for him. I was asked to go ahead and his so called friends came to fight me that why was I spoiling business for them? So when he came into office as a governor we extended our support to him and in fact in Afenifere then, they used to call me omoTinubu. All I was doing that timewas that he was helping NADECO members abroad, we said we must support him but along the line I started seeing some gaffes.
Was it as a result of the crisis in 2002 at Jibowu?
It was fundamental. The first time was in the beginning of 2015. There were things I have seen and I have not overlooked. One day I went to Bordillon, I met Falana, the SAN there, something told me the man is looking at his interest, he is not looking at the larger picture. After that, there were some incidents in Delta State, as close as I was to Senator Bola Tinubu, he did not even call me to say what is going on, I just saw in the papershe was talking about Afenifere, so many other issues happened I didn’t want to go into now. I said some things would go haywire like the killing of Lakunrin. But no matter how it is today, if I am passing by and I see his house on fire, I will call the fire service to come and put it out, but where reconciliation is difficult there is only one condition in which we can reconcile in that sense. It is either he accepts the values that we hold or we succumb to the values that he holds, our values are different and that is the fundamental thing. Can two walk together except they agree? But he is not my personal enemy; he did not do anything personal to me.
Is there a linkage you can draw to the nomination of his son who left government because of the incidence with Alhaji Dawodu in this particular government because his son has been nominated?
Why I will not see it as part of it is that Mr. Segun Dawodu fought his father in 1999 to work with Asiwaju. He defied his father when he was alive so after his death I don’t know what is greater than that.
But he reconciled with the government later
But by the time his father was going to stand as a candidate against Tinubu and it got to a time Tinubu was abusing his father openly but now…
They had the summit yesterday and the crisis still continues…
Yes, Miyeti Allah still killed people yesterday. Even heard they want to embark on a nationwide tour.