Friday, October 2, 2020 8:59 am
Should the Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria participate and contest for the presidency in 2023 or should they just withdraw and support the ambition of their Southeast, Igbo compatriots to produce the next Nigerian leader?
This is now the crux of disagreement between two prominent Yoruba elders, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, a chieftain of Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere and Chief Olusegun Osoba, a former governor of Ogun State and a veteran journalist.
Adebanjo had at a recent virtual event argued that the 2023 presidency should be zoned to Igbo and that the South-west should boycott the 2023 presidential election because of the failure of All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government to restructure the country.
But faulting this argument, Osoba said Adebanjo did not consult with the Yoruba people before he arrived at his decision to take them out of the the 2023 presidential race in favour of the Igbo.
The veteran journalist also argued that Adebanjo’s claim that the Southwest should boycott the 2023 elections if the Buhari administration fails to restructure Nigeria was made without consulting with the people.
Osoba said while the Igbo have a right to contest for the presidency in 2023, the Yoruba and other Nigerians must also not be prevented from doing so. He also argued that boycotting of election was not in tune with the philosophy of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who Adebanjo claimed to be his guiding political philosophy.
He said: “There are two issues that I disagree with Adebanjo on. For example in his own dictatorial way, he says he has now zoned the 2023 presidency to the Igbo. I want to query him, who is he to zone the Yoruba race out of the presidential race in 2023? Who is he?
“Where did we meet as Yoruba to say that we are ceding the presidency to the Igbo? Awolowo will not behave like that. There will be a meeting where there will be consensus.
“Of course, the Igbo have a right to contest in 2023 just as I as a Yoruba man also have a right to contest. But he (Adebanjo) has unilaterally zoned it to the Igbo. That is part of his dictatorial attitude. He is a dictator.
“Two, he says we must boycott 2023 elections. Where did we sit down to decide that Yorubas will boycott the 2023 elections? He doesn’t read history, even the history that he was part of. In 1964, he was then still in exile in Ghana. The issue of boycott arose. The National Congress of Nigeria Citizens (NCNC) and Action Congress (AG) went into an alliance and formed the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA).
“Overnight, they decided to boycott the election. Awolowo, who was in Calabar prison, sent a message that we should never boycott the election. He said boycott is not recognised by law anywhere and that we will lose out.
“Of course, we boycotted and we lost out in the government that was formed in 1964. Our other wing of UPGA in the East refused to boycott and so we produced nobody in the National Assembly then. Awolowo has never been a supporter of boycott.
“Adebanjo should tell me example of when Awolowo ever boycotted and where he (Adebanjo) got that philosophy from. I query him, where did we meet as Yoruba to say that we are going to boycott 2023 election? Even if we boycott, other Yoruba will go into the race. The PDP Yoruba will contest, and so, who is the loser?
“If we are going to boycott, let it be that all of us sat down together, debated it and arrive at a conclusion. There are the two major issues that Adebanjo is preaching, which are unrealistic and which Awolowo would never have supported. Awolowo will never support boycott.”