•Recalls Their Encounter
Chief Ayo Adebanjo is one of the early social crusaders that fought for democracy and justice for the oppressed in the pre-independence era. He is one of those who stood firmly on Afenifere (Action Group’s) principles, which insists on Federalism.
He has displayed great fidelity and commitment to the Awoist cause and shown the world that Africa has men and women of courage who are consistent, true to their words and loyalty to their leaders. This is a man that began his political career as one of those who founded, formed and led the Action Group Youth Wing in the late ’40s and early ’50s.
They more than any other group fought against the British to ensure that Nigeria got independence 10 years later. He recently spoke to City People’s Online Editor SEUN JOSEPH, on his influence on contemporary leaders and elders on the Southwestern political space, and how he identified youths with leadership traits, with an evident Instance of the Honorable Speaker of the 9th Assembly Rt, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
What’s your scorecard on APC?
I have been telling whoever is willing to listen; APC is not a political party. I have said it from the word go. It’s a congregation of the compatibles. If they exist until 2023, I will congratulate them.
They’ll fall apart. Because there is no principle that’s binding them. Of all the political parties that were formed before 1960, it’s only Afenifere that’s still existing till today. Where is NCNC? where is NPC?, because we are the only political party talking about Nigeria that prides itself in federalism.
If there was any party that was national in the first republic, it’s the Action Group. We are in the government in the western region, we are in the opposition in the centre, we are in the opposition in the East, led by Ikokwu. We were in the opposition led by Sule Maito, under the alliance of the Talakawas which was the Action Group. So was it in the middle belt. And none of the parties could claim the political authority. I have said it many times, nobody has come to challenge me.
How Close are you to Asiwaju now?
Tinubu is still my son. He doesn’t joke with my affairs, the same goes for all of them, but that doesn’t stop me from speaking the truth to them. Just last Ileya, Asiwaju sent me some rams. The rams were delivered at my house in Lagos and in Ijebu. Same for Ogun governor. But for his aspiration, I haven’t been briefed and I don’t want to meddle in that affair, because I don’t believe in it.
As for me, all the candidates are just deceiving themselves. If we say we want a united country, would we say a unit of that country has no right to aspire for the highest position in the country? It is a simple matter. I believe there won’t be an election in 2023 if there is no restructuring
Do you have any youth in mind to contest the presidency in 2023?
I have told you before, that when you make mention of youth, you have to be clear what kind of youth you are referring to. These elder ones were also youth at one point and the majority them joined politics while they were young. You cannot tell me that their ideals in politics just changed at later years.
You people just talk about youths, but they are mere conservatives. Let the youth come out and prove themselves. Most of the youth are corrupt. Nobody supports youth more than Afenifere, but not youth by age, but youth by intellect and integrity. Some of these youths are opportunists. Are they not the youths who will be PDP in the morning, APC in the afternoon and PMP in the evening?
You see, I have tipped so many youths and advised them to go into politics, but when they get hold of power, the narrative will change.
Aside from Tinubu, Who else have you influenced into politics?
Look, there is hardly anyone in the Southwest who has not, at one time or the other been baptised by the ideals of Afenifere. It started from there. We identified them and supported them. But the story still remains the same; money politics changes them all. Do you know I was the first to sell the idea of politics to Femi Gbagabiamila?
I was in the United States to see one of my sons. He’s closely related to one of my nephews and while we met in the United States. I think he was in Law School then. I muted the idea to him and he embraced it. In fact, I told him to come and contest for governor. Because he’s intelligent. He’s very smart and well-groomed.
He came back to Nigeria and just as advised, he joined the AD, but suddenly the interest changed. I came back to Nigeria and saw that he has been convinced to reconsider his ambition and settle for the Legislative arm.
Sometime later, I saw him and inquire what made him changed his mind, he said,, ah. Baba, eh Baba, we will talk Baba…. and that was all. But what I am saying is most youths don’t understand the scheme of things, until they get there. Some of them, after getting all the required contacts, network and support, once they fall in line, the ideals and principles will be defeated by power.