How Bucknor-Akerele was imposed on Tinubu as deputy gov – Ajomale
‘Bucknor-Akerele, a product of imposition’
National leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been absolved of any blame in the events leading to divisions within the Alliance for Democracy, AD, the party on which platform he served as Lagos chief executive in 1999.
Making this declaration in an interview with SATURDAY SUN, Lagos State chairman of the APC, Chief Henry Ajomale noted that it was Tinubu that stood up when some elements wanted to introduce some anti-democratic practices into the party.
Ajomale who spoke while reacting to some claims made against Tinubu by a former deputy-governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele also spoke on some other issues.
How would you react to the claims by former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele that it has been impossible for the PDP to win Lagos State since 1999 because APC, the ruling party is a party of perfect riggers, that your party is good at manipulating polls?
It is unfortunate that she could say so because she was with us from the beginning in 1999.
Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele started with us at the founding of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). She was also one of the leaders of the Afenifere who were then controlling AD.
As a matter of fact, she was picked from nowhere. She was running around people like late Pa Abraham Adesanya, Lanihun Ajayi and others who were AD leaders then. She was running after these elders with a view to lobbying them to ensure that she became the Deputy Governor.
If you can recollect, she was first elected a senator during the military era of SDP and NRC, the only two political parties in Nigeria. We also knew how she got elected as a senator at that time. It was late Senator Wahab Dosunmu that was supposed to go to the Senate.
At that period, she was in the Senate alongside Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. In fairness to her, Kofo Bucknor-Akerele also played a prominent role in the struggle that led to the termination of military rule in Nigeria. She was one of those who played key roles during the resistance to Sani Abacha’s dictatorship.
But when Asiwaju Tinubu won the election to become Lagos State governor in 1999, Bucknor-Akerele was virtually imposed on Tinubu as his deputy by Afenifere leaders.
Are you saying that she didn’t merit occupying the position?
I don’t know whether to say that she merited it or not as at that time, but she was imposed on Tinubu. If Tinubu was given a free hand to pick somebody of his own choice as his deputy, I’m sure Tinubu would not have picked her — for certain reasons which I will not like to mention on the pages of newspaper.
With her closeness to us for many years before she left and for her now to turn round to call us riggers, then she must be a rigger herself.
Then it also means that it was through our rigging machinery that she became deputy-governor.
But her take on that was that when she was in the AD with you and Tinubu, AD was a political party naturally loved by people throughout the Southwest, and that it was later that the party was hijacked by Tinubu and turned into another thing …
It is true that AD was well loved by people in the Southwest and it was also true that the party later became another thing .But who were the elements that were responsible? It is Kofo Bucknor and her godfathers in AD that turned the party into another thing and eventually destroyed the party.
The point I want to emphasise here is that it was Bucknor-Akerele and some others that destroyed AD. Contrary to the false information Bucknor -Akerele is peddling, Tinubu was the person that stood up to Bucknor-Akerele and her godfathers when they wanted to hijack AD and turn the party into another thing. Tinubu resisted them. I’m an eyewitness to all the events and I was there when all these things happened. Tinubu didn’t hijack AD, and he was not a dictator or autocrat.
Bucknor-Akerele, her godfathers and their supporters did a lot of harm to AD but Tinubu did his best to checkmate them. Before they were exposed, Buckno-Akerele and her godfathers were pretenders. They don’t believe in democracy, and they don’t believe in majority decision. They believe in imposition, and this was why Tinubu disagreed with them. At that time, some Afenifere leaders believe in imposition and this is against tenets of democracy.
But some of us including Tinubu resisted Afenifere leaders by insisting that imposition is undemocratic, and that everybody should be provided a level playing ground. We insisted that instead of imposition, candidates or aspirants who signified interest in contesting elections should be made to go through primaries and let the aspirant that has the highest votes emerge as the party’s candidate.
Then Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu was AD chairman in Lagos State. Politics is a game of numbers, it would be unfair to go for imposition.
The situation got so bad that time that Afenifere leaders were asking us to reserve a percentage of elective offices to people from Ganiyu Dawodu’s side. But some of us said no to imposition – this was the genesis of the crisis in AD. So you can see that it was Bucknor-Akerele and some of her godfathers in Afenifere that actually precipitated crisis in AD. They were not democrats. If they were democrats, they wouldn’t have come up with the idea of imposition or allocating certain percentage of elective positions to Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu.
From what you are now saying, are you trying to tell us that the former deputy governor was distorting history?
Yes. It is clearer and glaring that she wanted to distort history. She and those Afenifere leaders that backed her including others with them in Ganiyu Dawodu’s camp were the ones that tried unsuccessfully to foist imposition on us. They were the anti-democratic elements. But those of us in Tinubu’s camp resisted them. I was there from the beginning and I’m speaking authoritatively on this issue. Tinubu’s pedigree is well known. He is a democrat to the core, and Nigerians can still remember the yeoman’s roles he played in the struggle against military dictatorship.
It was in Ijebu-Igbo, the hometown of late Papa Abraham Adesanya that Afenifere leaders decided that elective offices in Lagos State should be on 60 – 40 ratio. By this they told us that 40 percent of the elective offices should be reserved for Ganiyu Dawodu while others should take the remaining 60 percent but we said NO.
When we resisted they reduced it to 80 – 20, but we still said NO – we told the elders that it would be unfair to allocate certain percentage of elective offices to an individual to decide who he will put there without due process being followed. We insisted that every member should be given equal chance to aspire and contest for any elective position on the party’s platform.
Bucknor-Akerele should stop manipulating history – the simple truth, and which she can’t deny if some of us see her face to face is that she belonged to the group that believed in imposition in AD. But for true democrats like Tinubu and some of us we said no. Why we believe that democracy must be upheld is that we reasoned that our struggle against military rule would have been in vain if after chasing away the military, we now embrace another form of dictatorship.
How would you react to her claims that she was one of the original founders of AD and that Tinubu was not even there when the party was formed?
It is true that Tinubu was not around when the party was formed, but he was part of those who formed the party.
As at that time Tinubu was outside the country leading the campaign against military dictatorship. It was not only him that was sent outside the country to mobilize the outside world against the military dictatorship, we had others like General Alani Akinrinade, Dr Amos Akingba, Commodore Dan Suleiman and a host of others. But Tinubu was communicating regularly with the home front, and the elders and others were also carrying him along at the home front. So he was part of the original founders of AD.
How can Bucknor-Akerele now describe Tinubu as an outsider in the history of AD? Tinubu was one of those who led anti-military campaign in US, UK and other foreign countries. I can also confidently say that it was Tinubu’s effort in mobilizing external forces that made military to abdicate power. It was the collaborative efforts of democratic elements like Tinubu, and others who were outside the country, and that of others within the country that led to the birth of AD.
What about the allegations against Tinubu that he was not a genuine democrat and that he subsequently hijacked AD ?
Like I said earlier, Bucknor-Akerele and those supporting her were the ones that destroyed AD, Tinubu never hijacked the party. We were having election in 2003 when Afenifere leadership made an alliance with the then President Olusegun Obasanjo. But Tinubu warned Afenifere leaders against it. He told them that Obasanjo can’t be trusted.
The plan was that during the presidential election, AD supporters in the Southwest won’t vote for for AD but for Obasanjo and PDP. But what eventually happened, Afenifere and AD leaders kept their own part of the bargain, as AD voters voted for Obasanjo during the presidential election, but during the gubernatorial polls when Obasanjo was to support the AD governors, what he did was to ensure that AD governors were voted out – it was only in Lagos State that AD won and this was as a result of Tinubu’s personal efforts and his refusal to join or form any alliance with Obasanjo — Obasanjo tricked Afenifere leaders and they fell for it.
On the issue of her not having harmonious working relationship with Tinubu as his deputy, Bucknor-Akerele claimed that her uncompromising attitude on matters of principle and the desire to protect her name …
Cuts in … The simple truth is this, if you have somebody as your leader, accept him as your boss and leader. Accept the fact that it was God that put him there, and give him or her all the necessary support. You may be older than your boss, but as long as he is the boss, give him the necessary respect. Give him his dues. This is what Bucknor-Akerele failed to do.
Because she and Tinubu went to the Senate at the same time, and that both of them belonged to the Afenifere, she felt that she was above Tinubu or that they are on the same pedestal. If you have such an attitude, definitely you will run into trouble with your boss. Certainly there can’t be two captains in a ship. You must show respect to your boss.
You come to the office anytime you like – you come to the exco meeting at your own time. In spite of all these, Tinubu didn’t show any provocation. Rather, he continued with his job. I was a witness to all these because I was a member of Tinubu’s cabinet then – Tinubu is very simple and also humane. He doesn’t discriminate. I can tell you that even till now he harbours no grudges against Bucknor-Akerele.
On the allegations by Bucknor-Akerele that Afenifere elders took sides with Tinubu during that period, and that she warned them against taking sides with Tinubu and that she was eventually vindicated as they later regretted their action…
Cuts in … In 2003, Bucknor-Akerele and her supporters including late Ganiyu Dawodu had already left AD – she and others who left AD were the ones that betrayed democratic cause.
I don’t know of any Afenifere leader that regret backing Tinubu – Tinubu has tremendous respect for all Afenifere leaders.
In Yoruba tradition, we show respect for elders. Up till today, Tinubu still respects Afenifere leaders because they are like fathers to him, and on the claims that it was the Tinubu factor and the crisis then rocking AD and Afenifere that led to the polarisation of Afenifere and the formation of Afenifere Renewal Group, Tinubu should be counted out of that.
Tinubu knows nothing about how Afenifere Renewal Group came about. He has nothing to do with them. It was some young Awoists in Afenifere that felt that some Afenifere leaders were drifting away from the principles of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo that broke away from the mainstream Afenifere to form Afenifere Renewal and the group is led by Hon. Wale Osun. Tinubu should not be in any way linked with the polarization of Afenifere.
But like I said earlier, Tinubu is not fighting Bucknor-Akerele.
What is your reaction to the way the issue of the president’s vacation and medical treatment has been generating controversies and debates?
It is very unfortunate the way some Nigerians have been taking to the social media platforms to peddle all manners of lies and falsehood about the President. Buhari is a human being, he can fall sick anytime –what Nigerians should be doing is to pray for this man who has shown uncommon and rare courage to restore Nigeria’s lost glory.
I don’t see any reason for controversy, the President has done the needful by communicating to the National Assembly about his trip and subsequent transfer of power to the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, who since then has been the nation’s Acting President – so there is no vacuum in leadership.
My advice to Buhari and APC leadership is that they should ignore all these people spreading falsehood. By the grace of God, Buhari will live and his enemies will be put to shame — those peddling false death rumour on Buhari should desist, otherwise they will incur the wrath of God.
Culled from The Sun