Hon. Moshood Salvador, the Treasurer of the Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF) is a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, but now a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, he speaks on the 2023 presidency and politics in the South-West.
What is your take on the position of a chieftain of the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, that the South-East should produce the president in 2023?
It is a well-known fact that the Yoruba culture does not allow elders to be abused, but when elders are going astray, you bring them back to their senses by pointing out where they have gone wrong. If elders in Yoruba land are going against the interest of Yoruba people, something is definitely wrong. An elder who claims to be a representative of Yoruba nation should not been seen or heard to be against the aspiration of any Yoruba person becoming president in 2023. However, they should leave the issue of 2023 presidency to God and Nigerians to decide. It is the Almighty Allah, who gives and takes power.
Have you ever heard any derogatory statement from northern leaders against an aspiration of northerners in favour of other aspirants from other regions? Have you ever heard the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. Ben Nwabueze or Chief John Nwodo condemning or speaking against the aspiration of an Igbo man? Have you ever seen Chief Edwin Clark or any of the South-South leaders talking against the aspirations of a South-South person? Never!
It is only Yoruba Afenifere leaders, who believe that Yoruba don’t deserve good things, claiming to be nationalists. Late Papa Abraham Adesanya once said that ‘I am Adesanya. I am from Adesanya family before an Ijebu man. I am an Ijebu man before a Yoruba man. I am a Yoruba man before a Nigerian and I am a Nigerian before I can be called an African.’
But this is not the first time Afenifere leaders will be supporting people from other zones ahead of the Yoruba during a general elections…
It should be noted that in 2015, the same set of elders said that a Yoruba man, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, will not be vice president, but God decided that nobody can stop it. Also in 2019, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, an Ijebu man from the South-West and others kept campaigning for Peter Obi against their son, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. If it is the wish of Almighty Allah that a Yoruba man would be president in 2023, nobody can stop it, not even the so-called Afenifere elders.
That is why I condemned the statement credited to Chief Adebanjo that 2023 presidency is for the South-East because the zone has not produced a president. History is so clear that the first president of Nigeria is Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. He is not an Ijebu man and he is not from Ogbomoso and he is not at all from Ogun State or Oyo State. They forgot that the first Nigerian president was from the East in the person of Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Therefore, there is no section of Nigeria that has not tasted the position of president. They even went further to say that the failure for an Igbo man to be the president would break this country and any Yoruba person aspiring is wasting his time. That is a very terrible and bad statement from people of such caliber in this country. The so-called elders want to tie down Yoruba and posterity will not forgive them. Chief Adebanjo and Afenifere don’t have the political power or clout to influence or actualize their assertion because he did not even win the polling booth in his house not to talk of his ward or local government, talk less of state, either Ogun or Lagos.
Chief Adebanjo has forgotten that Nigeria is practicing party politics and in party politics, any candidate can emerge from any political party. It is left for the party and the presidential candidate to reach out to other tribes, nation, and race for support. It is the people who will now decide who becomes their president. So, I was genuinely upset by the apparent naivety of some elders rather than think of mechanistic issues of how to develop the nation, how to solve the prevailing problems of the nation, they are busy sowing the seed of discord among various ethnic nationalities.
This is how they betrayed Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Chief MKO Abiola’s mandate was sold out by them. It should be noted that throughout Olusegun Obasanjo regime, this set of elders were against him because he was a Yoruba man. They did not vote for him, yet Obasanjo became president of Nigeria. They never saw anything good about Obasanjo as president rather it was total condemnation from them.
How do you see the attacks on the person of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, by some Yoruba leaders?
The only illustrious son of Yoruba, who succeeded in positioning the South-West to the central government is Chief Obafemi Awolowo, but was not appreciated by these few elders. They lack political focus and strategy. Come to think of it, if Chief Bode George did not bring single development to Ondo State, when he served as military administrator, what is he is now talking about empowering people, saying Bola Tinubu did not empower people. That is a fallacy any way. How many people did he (George) empower in his family talk less of his street not to talk of his ward or local government or the state.
In Yoruba nation today, nobody can compete with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, when it comes to empowering people. Does Bode George has command of people in his ward? He lost his polling booth completely not to talk of Lagos State in past general elections. These people have lost touch with political reality. They just want to be heard. They are also looking for cheap recognition in the present political configuration ahead of 2023. I think the elders should be more concerned about issues affecting the nation and Yoruba race; ranging from kidnapping, attacks and other security matters.
Asiwaju Tinubu is an icon; an illustrious son of Yoruba who brought the region to the centre of governance. He has politically groomed people from zero level to higher level to become vice president, ministers, governors, local government chairmen, heads of parastatals, speakers of state Assembly, captains of industries, professors, Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) and many others. He has made a standard government with blue print in Lagos State. These are what are expected of a high calibre class of person. What Tinubu has been doing is what is expected of a visionary leader, who has passion for growth, development of his people and his country.
There are those who believe that Afenifere leaders’ preference for South-East to produce the president in 2023 is based on the fact that the Southern Leaders Forum, which Afenifere belongs to is being sponsored by South-East and South-South…
Is it funding we are talking about? Can you imagine such assertion? Is it money? This is what is killing Nigeria. That statement is corrupt in nature because when you put money first against the lives of the people, you are not making sense. For me, I don’t believe so much in money. That is why when I was the chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), I said don’t give me money, I need victory; let us be talking about victory.
Let me tell you something about the Southern Leaders Forum you are talking about. That is where the corruption started from and that is why they will never succeed. Go and look at the constitution of the Southern Leaders Forum; it was the Yoruba Unity Forum that was put there to be the representative of the Yoruba in the Forum. They will never present something ugly for Yoruba and expect me to take it. Ask about me at the 2014 National Conference; whenever they came up with any package, I will ask them ‘what do you have for Lagos? What do you have for Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Oyo states?’
We have to talk about what you want to take from me and what I want to give you. It is not to say come and take this to support us alone. I will never take that. It is because of my hardline nature in the interest of my people that Chief Edwin Clark had to go behind to talk to Chief Ayo Adebanjo to bring two-three people to come and join us. Is that constitutional? And that is why we left them to continue. Whether they will succeed, I can assure you, they will not.
With South-West leaders making comment against their own region ahead of 2023, there seems to be division in the region. Don’t you think the region should speak with one voice to position itself ahead of the election?
Sometimes you need to dialogue. These are professional creators of crisis. That is what they feed on; that is what they live on, but we will let the whole world know so that they can sit down and let the progress of Yoruba continue. They always want to create crisis and controversy, so that they can come and beg them and perhaps settle them. If theyare politically savvy and somebody is aspiring to be president; if you don’t want the person, they should bring another person from their own house in the region. You don’t go out and condemn our interest or somebody’s aspiration. We will not take it from them.
But Afenifere leaders have based many of their decisions on the need for equity, justice and fairness in Nigeria, as well as restructuring, which they believe the ruling APC does not believe in…
It is not true. I have been campaigning for restructuring. I am a political scientist. What is restructuring all about? I was a member of the 2014 National Conference and part of our resolutions was state and local governments policing, which is what Mr. President has pushed to the panel to look into within three months and a white paper given to him. That is to tell you the sincerity of the APC administration.
I don’t sing praises of anybody, but when something is going wrong and you keep quiet, we are all going to suffer for it. Don’t allow people to create problem because when the problem come, they will just pick their passports and run out of the country, while the poor will remain here to suffer for it. So, we will not allow that.
Considering the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari has just been sworn into office for a second term, don’t you think that talking about 2023 presidency is too early?
We are not the ones discussing 2023. Anytime I talk to Asiwaju Tinubu, we do talk a lot about South-West; what we have brought for South-West and we will suggest a lot of things. We are concerned about the progress of the South-West now. We are not talking about 2023 presidency. It is this people who came up with it because they want to spoil something. Therefore, we have to give it back to them in good time and in their own style.
With division in the South, don’t you think the South may lose the presidency to the North in 2023?
It is only when you nip it in the board at this early stage. If you don’t, it would resort to that
TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE reports