Oodua Peoples Congress Leader, Otunba Gani Adams has said that the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu did not consult widely with the Yoruba social and political movements before forging alliance with the Hausa-Fulani North.
In an exclusive interview with Irohinodua, the National Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress, (OPC) said his group and several Pan Yoruba groups were not consulted before, during and after the alliance with the Hausa-Fulani North.
“We wanted to know what was in the alliance for the Yoruba people, but we were not consulted. We wanted to constructively engage the political leaders, but we had no such opportunity”, he said.
He added “OPC provide security for towns, villages and urban areas in Yorubaland. We are in millions. We are the armour that the Yoruba people rely on. We may not have the money, but we always bear our chest to breast the arrows pointed at the Yoruba nation. We may not have professors, but we give everything, including our own lives in defence of Yorubaland. The OPC is an organization without children in foreign universities, we are the people, the artisan, the panel beaters, the haggling market women, we are the people that live and work like the wretched of the Yoruba earth.
He said further “We are the people that are raw, yet we are the people that have no place to go when the heat is on, when it is cold and when it is hot. It is tactless for any serious leadership to isolate such a strategic group. When Chief Obafemi Awolowo was trampled upon, the poor were his shield, when Chief MKO Abiola was trampled upon, we were the defenders. I’m aware that many Pan Yoruba groups are taken for granted by the political leadership. This is a mistake that the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo did not make. A good leader should not only have the party behind him, he must have the people behind him. The party can betray, but the people will fight with their eyes closed, in fury, in defence of their land.”
According to him “We should have been consulted. In Israel, when the then Prime Minister wanted to invade Uganda, he invited and briefed the opposition. As a Yoruba man leading an organization like the OPC, we should have been consulted. It is the interest of Yoruba people that is at stake. We would have shared our experiences and make suggestions because when there is trouble, it is the ordinary people that I relate with that will bear the brunt. But we were kept in the dark. If the alliance was for the Yoruba people, we needed to know the content and form.”
He said that political alignment being about economy, politics and power is mainly about the future of the people. “I lead an organization with millions of members. I need to know what to tell them. For the fact that the APC has won at the centre is not the end of power and politics. There will be many challenges. Winning election is one thing, defending the mandate and getting a fair deal is another thing and also walking the tight rope within the context of Northern ethnic power game in Nigeria is another difficult challenge, that is why we felt that adequate consultation is always the best in politics for leadership to endure.”
When asked if he would seek political office, the OPC leader said ‘’ For me, politics is out of it. I am not determined to go into politics for now’’ he said adding that he had enormous tasks ahead of him which he had yet to accomplish. Otunba Adams spoke with editorial team of IrohinOodua at the weekend in Lagos.
‘’ I have a mission 70 percent of which I have not achieved. I have a lot to do from which partisan politics can distract me. So, I am not interested in politics’’ he said.
The OPC leader who many believed was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because of his support for the re-election bid of former President Goodluck Jonathan in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election said that he had friends in nearly all the prominent political parties in the country.
Otunba Adams explained that he had no choice than to support Dr. Jonathan at the time he did because according to him, no other person consulted him and there was no way he could fold his arms and fail to provide the necessary leadership for his followers.
He claimed to have had a relationship of over five years with the ex-president before the election adding that many of his aides were also his friends who he could not turn his back against in times of need.
‘’ When I took my position; they started abusing me. Politics is about local interest. If you don’t consult me, there is no way I can just leave my followers as a leader and tell them to go and vote the way they liked; because it had to do with a thing that would affect their lives too’’ the OPC chief said.
Reviewing the dreams of the founding fathers of the 16–year old organization, Otunba Adams observed that OPC as a self-determination group had achieved the major objectives for which it was set up.
According to him, the Yoruba race would have been overrun if not for the role played by OPC in concert with the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and other civil society organizations to stiffly confront the military over the annulment of the June 12 1993 Presidential election won by the late Chief MKO Abiola.The OPC leader attributed the subsequent pacification of the Yoruba with the Obasanjo presidency to the pressures mounted by the OPC and other groups adding that the organization also provided strong backing for the Obasanjo presidency, especially during the attempt made by the Ghali Na’ Abba-led House of Representatives to impeach him.
Other laudable achievements of the group he said included provision of security for communities across Yorubaland; intense canvass for convocation of national conference which was realized under Dr. Goodluck Jonathan; Cultural revival and promotion of cultural identity saying the organization corrected the impression that everything that had connection with the Yoruba culture was evil.
Otunba Adams clarified that OPC was not the same as Oodua Progressive Union.
‘’ OPC is a self-determination group while OPU is a socio-cultural organization put together to unite Yoruba people in the Diaspora’’, he explained adding that OPU emerged out of the necessity to build a platform for mobilization of Yoruba technocrats, intelligentsia and professionals in the Diaspora most of whom do not have the time to participate in what was going on in Nigeria.
‘’ If you have a vision, you have to think beyond Nigeria’’, he concluded.