Nigeria’s problems will persist unless the current constitution is changed – Adebanjo
Ayo Adebanjo is an Afenifere leader and elder statesman. In this exclusive interview with INIOBONG IWOK, he speaks on the state of the nation, saying Nigerians should forget about the 2023 general election without constitutional reforms. Excerpts:
Nigerians have expressed divergent views on the recent Matthew Kukah’s statement on the state of the nation. What is your take?
Yes, I agree hundred percent with what Mathew Kukah said on the state of the nation; anybody or all those giving contrary views are hypocrites. If you have conscience with the downward slide of the country, you would not think otherwise. He spoke the truth.
Look at the country now; in another clime this President would have resigned or if he refused to resign he would be impeached; but because of the type of country that we are in, it has been tolerated and people are debating the issue that it is not like that; it is like this, can you imagine.
Just think, which day of the week is somebody not killed in the country today? But Buhari is the commander-in-chief, what evidence do you need even? It is happening even in his home town.
We have gotten to a state where the government is now negotiating with bandits, how shameful that is, incompetence. Imagine, the whole country is saying remove these service chiefs but he turned a blind eye.
He still keeps them there, so what are you telling me, we should thank God that in a country like this we have someone like Kukah who is from the North. We want to see more of Kukahs because as far as I am concerned, what he said is not bad.
But several Northern groups have called his statement treasonable; calling for his arrest?
Let them take him to court if they feel offended by his statement. Let them come and take me too, any criticism of the government they would be saying something else and irrelevant and that we want to break the country.
What are they to be telling us what is good and bad? Let them go to Court.
Enough from these Northern people, we are not fools in this country; we begged them to sign for independence, they are now telling us how to rule the country. The insult is too much. This in entirety is encouraging incompetence and impunity and that is why we are like this.
He should have been pushed away, and if they say that is treasonable let them come and arrest me. Are you saying we can’t talk again in our country? We are now in a dictatorship and the rest of the country is slaves to them, they can do what they like. And the government has become so powerless that they are now negotiating with bandits; if they don’t know what to say they should shut up.
Recently, the House of Representatives invited President Buhari to come and explain what he is doing about the spate of insecurity and he refused to honour the invitation. Are you surprised?
That is part of the problem. All these people talking are people eating with him. That is part of the impunity, a constituted authority invited you and you refused to go and answer them. Nobody is above the law; those lawmakers are representing Nigerians.
In Great Britain and even the United States, any day, the House can invite the Queen, and the President and they would honour them; nobody is above the law. It is insane to say they should apologise to him for inviting him, all this is happening because they are with him. My prayer is that God should save us from President Buhari.
Are you not concerned about 2023 and the agitations about zoning the presidency?
Let me tell you I am not one of those looking up to 2023, there must be restructuring before I talk about the election. We must come back to a federal state, before we come back to talk about the election. We must need a people’s constitution that would work for the interest of Nigerians. A federal constitution, I don’t believe in any election in 2023 until a new constitution or we reverse back to true federalism.
That is not only my view, it is what Nigerians want, I am not looking towards any election; I want a true federal constitution; that is my view. 2023 would never come until we go back to true federalism, I am not talking about any appointments now; we have been ruled badly, we are back to Abacha days; for me, anything under this government is unacceptable.
I have decided not to talk about anything under this constitution that favours a section of the country to dominate others. We want to continue on that appointing nonsense.
This entire problem in Nigeria is because of impunity in the system and until you change that constitution don’t expect anything good.
But maybe we need a new party in power to do that, because the APC has shown it is not ready to restructure Nigeria?
There is no question of a new party in 2023, if we are going to have an election under this fraudulent constitution with all its fraudulent clauses. Look at the irregularities in the elections in Nigeria now because this 1999 Constitution supports it and so the way forward is to remove this constitution. This is not our constitution, it is a fraudulent constitution imposed on Nigerians by the power that be. So, that fraud must be removed first before anything else. He is ruling under a fraudulent constitution.