Buhari doesn’t need Southwest anymore – Tanko Yakasai, •Says Bayelsa candidates disqualifications showed APC didn’t learn lessons from Zamfara experience
Desmond Mgboh, Kano
Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai has lamented the political misfortune of Prof Yemi Osinbajo, saying the crisis in the Presidency owes a lot to the actions he took as acting President.
But while he sympathizes with Osinbajo, he was of the view that the Yoruba, where the vice president comes from, can do nothing democratically that would affect President Buhari, pointing out that the president does not need their votes any more, and they cannot also garner ‘the two third majority of votes’ required to impeach him.
He also decried the crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC) across a number of states in the country while insisting that the ruling party has not learnt any lesson from it previous misfortune in places like Zamfara State. Excerpts:
Our starting point is the intrigue in the Presidency between the president and his deputy. How do you see the script?
I have just been talking about this problem a while ago. If you look at the scenario and the play ups before now, you will certainly not be surprised at what is happening between President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo. If you remember before President Buhari travelled abroad for medical attention, he had submitted the name of the former Chief Justice on acting capacity and he was there when that time elapsed and he had to reappoint him in the same acting capacity. By law that can only be done twice and it cannot be done thrice and by the time the second appointment in acing capacity lapsed, President Buhari was still abroad and, therefore, it became imperative for acting President Osinbajo to act. Being a lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he knows that if having been appointed twice, the acting Chief Justice cannot be nominated again. His name must be submitted to the National Assembly. There is no other way except if Buhari had nominated the name of another person, which was not the case. I am just thinking on my own. I do not think that Buhari took kindly the act of that nomination because if he would nominate the acting Chief Justice twice, it means that he probably had no intention of nominating him for confirmation and in any case we saw how it all ended. Circumstances made Osinbajo to act and Buhari was not happy about that.
Could this be the history of their problem sir?
No, I am coming to that…if you remember the case of Lawal Daura. If you remember, Daura authorized his men to block the access to the National Assembly and Osinbajo was still the acting president and as a lawyer, he has no alternative, but to take action against Daura because there is no provision in the Constitution that allowed Lawal Daura to prevent the National Assembly from discharging its responsibility. There is no such provision for anybody, not even the president has the powers to prevent the National Assembly from discharging its functions.
So, the acting president as at that time has no alternative, but to act against the infraction committed by DSS under the directive of Lawal Daura. He removed Lawal Daura, detained him and withdrew the DSS operatives and allowed the National Assembly to continue to operate uninterrupted. In my own opinion, Buhari was not happy with these situations. Now, if you look at the situation till date, President Buhari has never, since then, given Osibanjo opportunity to act as the President of Nigeria. This two situations should convince everybody, even the Doubting Thomases that there is sometime brewing in the mind of President Buhari, between him and Osinbajo. I have no evidence, but these are my deductions.
Let us look at the issue of removing him from some of his positions and the recent case of the sacking of his staff. How does that play into this?
Let me say that the report about the withdrawal of his staff was reported and there was also a denial – I think from the office of the Secretary to the Federal Government. In any case whatever it is, if you put that together with what I have just said about the case of Daura and Walter Onnoghen, you will say that all is not well with this Presidency. Yes, they would deny the statement, but there is no smoke without fire.
How does this affect the Yoruba people who see themselves as critical stakeholders in the emergence of the Buhari administration?
Well, I have been saying since the period of Obasanjo that in my opinion a presidency, which is occupied by a retired military General is not a full fledged democracy. I am, therefore, not surprised at the zig-zag way that our Presidency is going because I already have this feeling that there is no way a military General would operate democracy according to the rule of the game.
What I was actually saying is that the Yoruba feel that what is happening to Osinbajo is a direct attack on them. Are they reading the script well enough?
No, I don’t think so. But let me say this. There is no doubt that Yoruba votes made it possible for Buhari to emerge as President of Nigeria twice. But it depends on the person of the president to appreciate this or not to appreciate it. If he is somebody who appreciates good gesture, it would have been a different matter. But I don’t think that is the situation. Yes, the Yoruba made it possible for Buhari to be the president for the first time and the second term. But Buhari does not need the Yoruba and their votes any more. He is already the president. They are not in the control of the National Assembly and, therefore, they cannot impeach him.
I don’t think he needs them and so it is up to them to decide what to do in the face of what is before them. Whether they satisfied that they have been compensated. No matter what they feel about what is happening honestly they could do little to alter their fate. Buhari doesn’t need them any more. He is already the president. You cannot remove him unless by impeachment and you do not have a two-third majority required to undertake such a task in the National Assembly and so even by way of impeachment, they cannot do anything to Buhari.
What then is your advice to the Yoruba in the face of all this?
Next time, this should serve as a lesson for them. In fact, it should serve as a lesson to Nigerians. The character of the people you are going to support should be a matter for thorough consideration before yourself and you people to the person.
Bola Tinubu has been rather silent in the unveiling drama. What do you make of his silence?
Well, he is still looking for the support of Buhari supporters in the North. The story is that Tinubu is thinking of replacing Buhari at the end of his tenure and I will not be surprised that this is the case. If that is the case, then Tinubu would not dismiss the goodwill of Buhari’s supporters in the North.
And could it be that he has a hand in the unfortunate fate of Osinbajo, given that both are rumoured to be interested in the presidency come 2023?
I have not heard that Bola Tinubu is opposed to the prospect of Osinbajo emerging as the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the future.
Some people have said that there is no zoning in APC Constitution and that the North can still go for the presidency in the next elections. What is your take?
Those who are saying this are people who are prepared to dam the consequences. We cannot in the present situation think of APC nominating a northerner as a candidate after the two terms of Buhari Presidency. Any body who is a product of democracy must think twice before making this statement because we don’t have the required number to produce a president of this country. We certainly need some support from the South and the only possible area that we can look up for meaningful support is the Southwest.
Coming back to Osinbajo travails. What do you think the man could do to win back the admiration and love of President Buhari and his immediate caucus members?
Well, according to people who are very close to Buhari, people who know him very well say that he is not somebody who forgets. He said he would not forget. I read that somewhere. He didn’t say that he would not forgive. He said that he would not forget. I can’t remember the exact situation, but he stated it clearly that he would never forget. But he didn’t say that he would never forgive.
Of late, we have a number of court judgments that have not been obeyed. There is this fear that our democracy is beginning to go below the standards. What is your remark?
What you have just raised is supportive of what I have just said about the character of the Presidency.
But how do you see the closure of the border by the present administration. While some people are crying, others are smiling. What is your take?
In my opinion, this is nothing, but a fire brigade approach. When there is a fire, when the fire brigade personnel come, both the particular item that is on fire and the item that is not on fire, they pour water on all of them. They would not mind spoiling all the furniture in the house to quench the fire. So, this is a fire brigade approach and in my opinion, it is not a good approach in solving problem. The complaint by Nigerians is that there is massive smuggling of rice into the country.
There is no complain of massive smuggling of spare parts, textile materials, drugs and other things into the country. So, to me, a reasonable government would devote itself to what it can do to deal with the problem of smuggling of rice to the exclusion of other items, because they are not being smuggled in the same proportion. This is not the first time. You remember when Presdient Buhari became the military Head of State, he changed the currency.
The allegation then was that civilians had stashed a lot of money in their homes and hiding places. In an attempt to deal with the problem of politicians hiding looted money, he directed for a change of an entire currency. Changing a currency is a very expensive undertaking. It costs a lot and in the final analysis, the amount of loss that this country sustained by far outweighed the advantage that was set out to achieve. And apart from that, with the kind of characters we have in business. Many of these businessmen do not bank their money in the banks, including most richest men. So, the number of Nigerians who became bankrupt was enormous. They lost everything during the currency change.
Would the border closure be of a serious help to the economy?
What I am saying is that we are used to this kind of situation. When you are talking of a fire brigade approach, the consequences are not considered. There are some problems where you do not adopt the fire brigade approach. You need to study the problem carefully and come up with an alternative way or ways of tackling the problem so that you don’t make your people to suffer in an attempt to relieve them of a burden.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) as a party is enmeshed in crisis in many fronts. What do make of these quarrels in many states, including, of course, Edo State?
Well, you know that politics is an act and you just turn out to be a politician over night. You have to learn the process, learn how to do it. In England, people like you, younger people as early as when they are in secondary schools, make up their minds to go into politics. When they graduate, they would go and work in the offices of political parties and be engaged and from there, they would become officials in their local party, in their constituencies an they would be nominated as candidates. Most of the politicians that are elected in Britain started this way. There are few that would just venture into politics, but even the few, they have to undergo a certain transition from whatever they were doing before going into certain career. It is a career. What you are trying to say is that APC has not been able to manage its crisis. You cannot manage a crisis if you don’t know how to manage it. Simple. The fact is that they don’t know how to manage crisis. This kind of thing happened in Zamfara State, and now I was told that something close to it has happened in Bayelsa, that APC candidate and the man who ran against him had been disqualified by the courts. What happened in Zamfara is enough to teach APC and every politician a lesson. So, that it wouldn’t repeat itself. But look at it, it is being repeated.
What of what is happening Edo State?
The governor, according to stories, was the nominee of Adams Oshiomhole in the first instance. And I remember some happenings that gave credence to that assumption. For the both of them now, within a period of four years, to be dead enemies – I have no quarrel with Oshiomhole, he has respected my age and I like his doggedness. But there is no doubt about the fact that APC is not learning a lesson in Edo and Bayelsa states. My fear for them is that where the party in power doesn’t put itself together, the main opposition would benefit from the fight.
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