In a recent interview with The Punch, a member, Peoples Democratic Party Board of Trustees, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, comments on the recently concluded general elections
What’s your view of the 2015 general elections?
All I can say is to wish Nigerians well. But I am not an enthusiast of the elections because I believe that they were mismanaged, especially the presidential election. It was computed by some diabolical forces to reenact a Hausa/Fulani oligarchy in Nigeria. I am not going to talk much about this now. I am going to talk about it in about one or two months’ time because I don’t want to be seen as disrupting what has been done so far in terms of ensuring peace and smooth transfer of power from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress.
For example, what has the card readers got to do with our elections? Prof. Attahiru Jega said it was in line with recent technology. Which technology? The card readers were apparently used to manipulate the elections. There was also underage voting in the North and nothing was done by Jega.
You are an apostle of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who in his lifetime tried to get the Yoruba into the mainstream of national politics. What do you think would be Awo’s point of view about where the Yoruba are in national politics today?
Papa was playing politics the way any decent person and nationalist will play politics. His Yoruba people knew him when he was Premier of Western Nigeria. They knew he performed well. Papa has never advanced the argument that the Yoruba must be left out of government. I have always quarreled with my colleagues in the PDP who are saying that, even when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was president. I don’t believe in the mainstream nonsense. So, nobody ascribed any tribal feelings to Awolowo when he was propagating his ambitions. He had supporters all over the country. So, the Yoruba who are in the APC will now be part of government. I wish them the best of luck because at the end of the day, the Yoruba will be free to judge them if they have performed or not. It is not a question of mainstream or no mainstream, it is a question of popular participation in a government that belongs to Nigerians.
I asked that question against the backdrop of the fact that the leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, is touted as the new leader of the Yoruba, having helped in getting the Yoruba nation in mainstream national politics.
Was it Tinubu that did it? I know Bola very well. I always tell people, when I got married in 1972, Bola Tinubu contributed 10 pounds to my bachelor eve. I know him very well in terms of his politics of rigidity and stubbornness but he will destroy himself if he says he is Yoruba leader. Who made him leader? His party went into the contest. One, he played a key role in it, good for him. But to say he is Yoruba leader, honestly, I will not wish him evil but success but he should never in his lifetime make the mistake of saying that he is Yoruba leader. In 1951 when Papa Awolowo became the leader of the Action Group, he didn’t force himself on the party, it was people like Papa Maja, Doherty that said you young man, you have done very well as the general secretary of the party, go ahead and provide leadership and Papa provided leadership. But if Bola Tinubu will glorify on this election and call himself Yoruba leader, I wish him well. He is younger than me, so he should not fool himself nor join that charade to say he is Yoruba leader. Yoruba people respect maturity, age and experience and they know who their leaders are.
What do you foresee of Buhari and Obasanjo relationship?
Many of them who are jumping up and down now will know better when Buhari must have finished dealing with them. Buhari is a Fulani man from Daura. The northern agenda to get rid of southern leadership started in the 2011 elections. Obasanjo had his reasons. He supported Jonathan to succeed Yar’Adua and he was the same person that said Jonathan should go. As an individual, he has his rights. I am told he has been given three ministerial slots. It could be more than that, so let him go ahead but it does not stop Obasanjo tomorrow to take his biro to wipe Buhari clean and clear but the difference is that when he is fighting Buhari, he will be fighting a different kind of opponent. Buhari is a Fulani; I keep on saying that and they are very rugged and tactical in their approach to power. It is going to be an interesting fight but it is going to come. We in the PDP are waiting because we are returning to power in 2019 and luckily for us, we are going to bring out a candidate from the North to face Buhari. Some in the APC have been deceiving themselves that Buhari is not going to run for a second term. They say he’s going to do a term and I laugh at them. If God gives Buhari strength and power and I wish him that, he is going to run for a second term and we will pitch a Hausa/Fulani against him.