A Yoruba leader and an educationist, Chief Tokunbo Ajasin has expressed disappointment over the inability of the new parties and their presidential candidates to put up a good showing during 2019 general elections.
Chief Ajasin in an interview with Westlifemag, said that, “one thing about the outcome of the election, which though not surprising but disappointing was about the new parties, with new faces, many people have thought would gave good account of themselves and challenge the two big parties, but at the end of the day, the contest was between the Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress”
While seeing this as a setback for our democracy, he agreed with the notion in some quarters that the young presidential candidates might have taken the wrong step, as many would say, that they should have started at lower level.
On whether Nigeria’s economy situation would improve in the coming dispensation, the leader of Atayese, a Yoruba social cultural group, said he hoped that things would be better.
According to him, the (Buhari) government must have realised, quite a number of mistakes made in the outgoing dispensation, which they should be able to address them during their new term in office.
He believed that President will be more active than the last four years when he spent some months outside the shores of the country, attended to his health challenges.
On the possibility of South-West, having a shot at the 2023 presidency, Chief Ajasin said if the zoning is applied as we are having now, there’s a bright chance for the south-west to contest for same. He however said that things don’t necessarily work out like that.
But he expressed belief that if the zoning favours the south, Yoruba should ordinarily have a shot at presidency.
“If the zoning favours the South, Yoruba will be in an advantageous position but if it (zoning) is impaired, that may be difficult”, he said.
“Don’t forget that after the death of late Umaru Yar’Adua, a northerner, in 2010, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan served out the first term which Yar’Adua couldn’t complete. So by 2011, the Northerners were keen to conclude their term, yet Jonathan, a southerner contested, won and became the president. Therefore, to say now that it is the turn of the south in 2023, they (Northerners) can equally challenge it”, he said in retrospect.
Chief Ajasin expressed displeasure on the disunity in Yoruba nation, especially amongst their leaders.
On whether there is any plan on ground to address the unity of Yoruba in order to have a common front on national issues, Chief Ajasin said ”there were plan but at the moment, they are not working the way they should and everybody is feeling the heat, so to speak”.
He added that event leading to the 2019 general elections widened the division among the Yoruba leaders as some of them pitched their tents with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP while others supported the re-election bid of President Buhari.
In response to what has happened to the agenda set during the Yoruba summit held at Adamasingba, Ibadan in 2018, Chief Ajasin who was an active participant at the summit, regretted that there was no follow up on decision reached at the summit.
He said the summit was a good outing, though there were still some people who opposed it but predominantly, a lot of people who attended the summit, wanted something to go on after. But for some reasons, the summit, spearheaded by Afenifere, and brought everybody together could not continue in that line.
Meanwhile, the educationist disagreed that the APC led administration is against the issue of restructuring, saying the ruling party actually set up a committee, which went throughout the whole country, sough people opinions on restructuring and they (committee) came up with a paper.
“I disagree that Buhari’s government is against restructuring. The APC as a party went to the extent of getting memos from so many groups, even within Yorubaland and other parts of the country”.
Reminded that the report of the committee set up by APC leadership never saw the light of the day, Chief Ajasin said, at least they came up with something. This, he said unlike the PDP which never do anything near that.
“The PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was just mouthing restructuring but how would he implement it without his party’s support, since PDP as a party has not come out that they want restructuring for the country”.
“The APC wrote in their manifesto that they will restructure the country, but as things turned out when they got into power, the government was overwhelmed with many other things, like security challenges, economy and host of other pressing issues, begging for attention. But now, it depends on members of the party, if they hold strong view on the issue, it (the report) may be considered, because there’s already a paper to look into”, he said.
Chief Ajasin, who is also a chieftain of the APC, mentioned that the way the party is structured in the south-west, caused his inability to engage leaders of the party, to ensure that the issue of restructuring does not become only a paper work but reality.
“I always feel that I should be able to have some influence within the party but the party in south-west has been monopolised by certain sets of people. I don’t know if I should blame them, may be I haven’t put out myself strongly as I should but I still see them, just as clique within the party”.
“Some of them, who are controlling the party, have put restructuring in the back burner, but for people like me, restructuring is in the front burner. But, I can still understand them in the sense that if they are having feelings that the party leader in person of President Buhari would not strongly dispose to restructuring, they may not put in enough efforts in that direction”.
He continued: “Let me say this, the southerners have been in the forefront of the restructuring campaign, yet when they were at the helm of affairs in this country, they did not address the issue. So, I don’t see reason why we should be blaming Buhari for doing the same thing now. We have had Olusegun Obasanjo from South-West as the President for good eight years, Goodluck Jonathan from South-South had also been in power, yet none of them did what their people have been clamouring about for long time. Now you are blaming Buhari who doesn’t dispose favourably to the issue. That’s not fair”.
On whether role(s) should be given to the traditional rulers in our system of government, Chief Ajasin said he won’t support a role for traditional rulers now but rather suggested a new constitution, which will consider and apportion roles for our monarchs.
“I would rather suggest we have a new constitution because this present constitution was imposed on us by the military and they have done it in such a way that it favoured them. That’s why you will see that since we started this democracy in 1999, we have had two former military heads of state, became civilian presidents, even after they have messed up the country. That’s why we need a new constitution, which will consider and give roles to our traditional rulers, after all, they actually have a role before we embraced democracy as system of government”, he submitted.