Leader of Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has said that presidential aspirants from the South-West geopolitical zone including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, should forget their presidential ambitions.
He said it was the turn of the South-East to produce Nigeria’s next President after the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in May 2023.
The elder statesman made his position known in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday.
According to him, it is an injustice for a South-West President to emerge in 2023 after ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo from Ogun State had ruled from 1999 to 2007; while Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, also from Ogun State, has been in government since May 2015 and would have spent eight years in power by May 2023.
The 94-year old elder statesman added that the South-South zone has also had a shot at both President and Vice-President positions with ex-President Goodluck Jonathan between 2007 and 2010 (as VP) and from 2010 to 2015 (as President).
Adebanjo, however, said for Nigeria to have another President, the country must first be secured.
The nonagenarian said, “Right now, is there a country for them to be President? There must be one country first before you can talk of an election. Is this the country Jonathan handed over to Buhari? Whether a Southern or a Northern candidate, let us unite everyone. We can’t get everyone united until we change this constitution.
“Are you safe? Talk about security. How am I sure that I won’t be shocked when I go to the police station, when electoral officers, soldiers, and policemen are being shot dead and I can’t travel to Maiduguri safely?
“All those who are clamouring for Presidency, be it Jagaban (Tinubu) or Osinbajo, they should assure us of our safety first, that the country is safe, that we are one, then we talk of who is going to be President. They should forget about their ambitions now until there is safety. Nobody can go to the South-East now, and we are all living in denial.”
Asked if he was supporting Tinubu, Osinbajo, or any President from the South-West, the Afenifere leader said, “How can I back a South-West candidate? That is not equity. Has Obasanjo not done so for eight years? Has Osinbajo not done eight years as VP? Has Jonathan not done five years as President? Is the South-East not part of Nigeria?
“We want peace and equity. It is the turn of the South-East. I don’t talk ambiguously. It is the South-East that the thing must go; there is no doubt about that but my anxiety now is that before we say, South-East, have we got a country? Let us settle that before we say the South-East is the answer. I am not ambivalent about it at all.”