•As President, At Next Month’s Presidential Election
Aare Gani Adams is the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland. He is also the National Co-ordinator of OPC which has a huge followership across Yoruba speaking states and beyond. He is also the Leader of Oodua Peoples Union (OPU) which is made up of millions of Yorubas in the diaspora. By virtue of all these important leadership positions he holds, he is unarguably a prominent Yoruba leader whose views counts any day, anytime.
Last week, Adams told City People, during an interview that Yorubas should shine their eyes and vote for any presidential candidate who supports Restructuring. “This political system and arrangement that we have in place right now can’t lead us anywhere” he told us. Read on! Its an explosive interview.
How do you see the forthcoming elections? What is your take and what is the role of the Yorubas?
In Nigeria, we don’t know the importance of the No1 citizen. That is the mistake a British person will not make or an American will not do. After God, the future of any person lies on the person holding the helm of affairs of a country for 4 years.
I know Nigeria got into trouble in 1993. People just said annul the election of Abiola and nothing will happen but that decision cost us a lot. Most of the countries we used to give money are now richer than Nigeria.
During the time of Shagari and IBB, we were being called the giant of Africa but nobody can call Nigeria the giant of Africa anymore. Morocco has over taken us in terms of economy, South Africa has also overtaken us. South Africa makes the highest income from solid mineral. Their first major revenue is solid mineral. The second one is from Tax because their atmosphere is so conducive for investors. Most of the vehicle they use in South Africa are produced there. They produce planes in South Africa. Solid Minerals, Tax and Tourism generate huge revenue for South Africa.
So, when you compare the entire revenue of South Africa. It will be about 5 trillion rands. And let’s now convert it to Naira. Let us say it’s 100 trillion naira and Nigeria is presenting a budget of 8 trillion naira. We still have a long way to go. How did we get to this stage? It’s because we have run away from the political institution our forefathers bargained for in 1960 and 1963.
If we don’t go back to that institution we won’t makes a headway. It’s not a curse. Either Buhari or Atiku, if we don’t go back to regionalism then we would fail as a country. When you turn Nigeria to the Unitary System then it has been designed to fail.
We have to restructure this country on the basis of federating units. And what I mean by federating units is that, let’s go back to regionalism because I don’t believe in ‘statism’, in statism you turn the governors to Emperors and it would be worse than what we have presently. There must be checks and balances between the Governor and the Premier. The Premier will supervise what is happening in each zone and the President will be in Abuja. We canvassed for Parliamentary system of government when we went for National Conference but the greedy politicians said they will continue with the Presidential System of Government.
How much do we have to run the Presidential System of government? Do you know the budget of America who runs the presidential system of government? America’s budget used to be 7 & 8 trillion dollars. The money budgeted for Fire Service in New York alone is more than our budget in Nigeria. The budget of Sao Paulo in Brazil as a state is more than the budget of Nigeria.
So why are we deceiving ourselves? Anybody that is ready to restructure Nigeria I will support him. Buhari still has time to embrace Restructuring. They still have about one month now to make that decision. I’m in Real Estate Business, nobody buys land from us again. I have a trailer. I’m into Oil business, everything has folded up. I used to take 14-16 people abroad before, now I can’t take anybody out anymore because the exchange of dollars to naira is high. I don’t pray for personalities, but I pray for better institutions for a better country.
I was in Enugu and Anambra two weeks ago, I saw a promising future for the South East if they can have their own region. There is a lot they can build on in that place if they have their regions. Most of their children have run away from their regions, doing all sorts of businesses in other people’s region. I was in Awka in Anambra, they told me about 95% of Anambra people have left for other regions and there’s a lot of things they can use to survive in that area but because the economy has been so centralized nothing works. Abuja is supposed to be an administrative city. We are so blessed in Yorubaland, we have the opportunity to develop individually without depending on government. But go to other areas like Bayelsa. Only one road links Bayelsa as a state and that is where we get oil. I was in Asaba and I almost cried when I saw the GRA of Asaba. How would you say you stopped an agitation on that?
In the north, most of their roads are not tarred. They don’t benefit from government. How would they not turn to Boko Haram?
So, I think we have to find a solution to the problem of this country. I have to tell them the truth. I won’t mention anybody’s name. I won’t endorse anybody but all I’m saying is that Nigeria must be restructured. And anybody who believes in restructuring is what Nigerians should vote for.
Would that be your message to Yorubas?
Not only Yorubas, but the entire Nigeria. Aare Onakakanfo speaks beyond Yorubaland alone.
Abiola wasn’t sectional when he was alive, likewise Akintola. I’m talking as a statesman now and that’s my own position.
Restructuring is better than having a Yoruba person as President because it’s about the institution. The institution remains even after 8 years. An American deplomat told me that Yorubas are good in fighting but we are not good in negotiation. He said, from history, that we are good in fighting but we are not good in negotiation.
With your tight schedule, how do you unwind?
There is no time to do that. When you are talking about people who have time for full enjoyment, you will be talking about the middle –class. Those are the people that have all the time chasing paparazzi, enjoying themselves. But when you get to a certain position in life, you won’t be able to control yourself; people have more influence on you.
Sometimes I tell my wife to take my children and go on vacation that they shouldn’t wait for me. As a matter of fact, my children should have gone for holiday now but they couldn’t go because of my one year anniversary.
Everybody sees you as the leader of OPC before you became Aare Onakakanfo a year ago But we notice you haven’t been saying much about OPC as an institution? Is it delibrate?
No, it is not.
I am still the leader of OPC. I won’t abandon OPC for life, unless OPC metamorphoses into another group, based on the prerogative on the leadership of the organisation. I won’t abandon OPC because a stream that forgets its source will dry. Anything I am today is as a result of the effort and the role of the OPC. I don’t deny my old friends. I play with anybody that associates with me with the right intention. I have friends who are still commoners. I will call them and we have breakfast together and anything I can do I do it for them.
As Aare Onakakanfo, you don’t know what will happen tomorrow to the struggle. I’m still the leader of OPC. When we form Advisory Council now, can they go to war? We are not praying for war but you can’t write off crisis, especially when the population is becoming big. It could be crisis from Fulani, kidnapping, armed robbery. Like where I come from, Fulani has been terrorizing them there but the advise I gave them is, go and build strong OPC in your community so that I can encourage them to defend you. So I can’t abandon OPC because of unnecessary glamour and by the time the rope is cut, you will fall flat and be nothing, and that was why I couldn’t resign as National Coordinator of OPC when I was given the Aare Onakakanfo title. I still remain the National Coordinator of OPC and Global Convener of OPU. You know that there’s a group abroad, it is in 84 countries. So I won’t leave my main business. And my structure is my business. Abiola didn’t leave his business when he was given the Aare Onakakanfo title. Most of the associations he belonged to, he didn’t abandon them, likewise Akintola did not leave his Law profession.
Some people will say as Aare you can’t get yourself involved in politics, I ask them who told you that? Aare is politics, politics is Aare. Don’t you know the meaning of Aare Onakakanfo? Defending the Oyo Empire, its sovereignty; it’s about political power and every role of Iku Baba Yeye (Alaafin), as a Chief of Defence Staff.
If I decide tomorrow I want to contest any election, I can’t contest for Governorship, I can’t contest for Senate, I can’t contest House of Reps. Aare can’t contest for governor again, somebody that has the title of the entire Yoruba land now go for Ondo State governorship, that means the person is foolish. The only thing I can target is the President of a country but I’m not interested because Nigeria is built by fraud. I don’t know maybe if Nigeria is restructure in the future, maybe I can have a rethink about it. Because I don’t know how I can do it successfully and I don’t want to be in a venture that I will not succeed. I’m not desperate to go into politics now unless the coast is clean.