The leader of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has said he and former President Olusegun Obasanjo are united in their support for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, to win the 2023 presidential election.
He said their support for Obi was for a better Nigeria.
Speaking in an interview with Punch correspondent on Friday, Adebanjo, noted that his past issues with Obasanjo were not personal and that they were united in rooting for Obi to emerge as the next president.
A video emerged during the week showing Obasanjo, Adebanjo, Obi and others at a condolence visit to the family of the late Minister of Aviation, Mbazulike Amechi, who died at 93 on 1 November, 2022.
Obasanjo, who did not mention any name while speaking at the gathering, said: “What I believe and what I believe that Chief Ayo Adebanjo believes is not ethnic, sectional or religious, it is Nigeria and Nigerians. When I go out and people thank me, I say, ‘What are you thanking me for?’ and I tell them, ‘Please, stop thanking me. Why should you be thanking me?’
“I believe in equity, justice and one Nigeria. I have shed my blood for this country. I have gone to prison for this country, so what are you going to frighten or threaten me with? The only thing that my senior brother (pointing to Adebanjo) hasn’t done is that he hasn’t shed his blood, but he has gone to prison. Let us leave it at that.”
Adebanjo, however, interjected, saying: “You have not shed your blood, you only attempted to, because you are still alive,” a remark that drew laughter from him and the audience.
Obasanjo swiftly responded in pidgin English, saying, “What of the blood I shed at the war front? I can show you where it hit me and nearly touched the wrong place,” as he pointed at and made a veiled reference to his private parts. His response was also greeted by laughter from the audience.
Obasanjo continued: “The problem we have right now is not ethnic, it’s national. For me, the first thing that is important in a leader is character. The problem we have had over the years is that we don’t have leaders who have the right type of character for which they should be entrusted with a leadership role. So, if I put my finger on anything or anybody, it is because comparing one with another, I see that there is merit that would be of benefit.”
But while speaking with Sunday PUNCH, Adebanjo, who had in the past criticized Obasanjo over some of his actions when he was President, said: “What unites us is Nigeria. All the time I disagreed with him, there was no personal issue. It was on this issue of Nigeria and we agree it should be better.
“We all agreed that Obi is the man. That is why we are friends. And that was what we made clear to the people of the East. It was the question of Nigeria and we were able to demonstrate the importance of Obi’s victory in the election. Even people who do not agree on things agree on this one.
“That is to show you that we elderly are united in one thing: bring Nigeria together. We are not looking at the past; that will not help us now. What will help us is to amend all the evil things that the (President, Major General Muhammadu) Buhari (retd.) government has done.
“The man (Buhari) is telling us he has done his best when his best is the worst administration we have had in the past 20 years.”
Also, on his assessment of the campaigns so far, he said unlike the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; and that of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, only Obi has been having issues-based campaigns.
He stated: “Not all of them have been having issues-based (campaigns) and that is the truth, but Obi has been running issues-based campaigns. He has been very consistent about what he plans to do. Tinubu’s people have been abusing people, while Atiku’s people are also attacking them.”