The dust raised prior to the just concluded local government elections in Lagos State may appear to have settled feebly as the electoral exercise has come and gone. Meanwhile, the echoes of imposition that characterized the primaries of the All Progressives Congress, APC before the election were such that reverberated throughout the state and beyond. This, notwithstanding, the stance of the APC National Legal Adviser, Dr. Muiz Banire, SAN, that primaries should hold to avail all aspirants a level playing field; a submission that turned out to have met some of the party stalwarts on the wrong side thus snowballing into an internal crisis within the party. This equally sparked up protest calling for the expulsion of Banire from the party for anti-party activities. The high point of the crisis however has been pronounced to be a face-off between Dr. Muiz Banire, SAN, and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s caucus. In an interview with Dayo Oyewo and Taiwo Okanlawon, Barrister Kunle Adegoke, an Attorney at the Muiz Banire Chambers revealed the reasons behind the lingering crisis. Adegoke, who is also the Deputy National Coordinator of the United Action for Change also speaks on how some elements had used the crisis to fan the embers of acrimony between the two APC chieftains.
Q: The recent face-off between the national legal adviser of APC, Dr Muiz
Banire, SAN, and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s camp is becoming intractable by the day. Don’t you think this is inimical to the progress of the party particularly in Lagos
Ans: Let me first correct an impression, I want to state it categorically that there is no personal disagreement or face off between the National legal adviser, Dr. Muiz Banire SAN and the National leader of our party, it is just a misconception which has been fueled from a number of quarters to the public, probably those who tend to benefit from the existence of the crisis between the two who would prefer that there should be a crisis. Because when you look at it from all that have been said so far by Dr. Muiz Banire, you will see that he has never made any derogatory statement or any attack against the National leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is not only well referred in Lagos but in Nigeria and all over Africa and even beyond, on that basis I will say no personal crisis between the two of them. What is on ground right now is an attempt by certain individuals to use the image of the National leader of the party to entrench their own personal interest by promoting impositions of candidates from various local government, wards during the last elections.
However, Dr. Muiz Banire being the National legal adviser of the party, the custodian of the constitution of the party, immediate interpreter of the constitution of the party, he’s the protector of the legal interest of the party. So while interpreting the constitution to the state leadership of the party that primary elections of the party ought to be done in accordance with the constitution, some elements felt aggrieved and they didn’t want primary elections to hold accordance with the constitution. That is where the agitation came from. So it has nothing to do with the National leader of the party because you will see that the national leader has never said ‘I’m imposing this fellow to be chairman of a local government, in fact, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has never made any statement on this issue. So, it has been a statement by the National legal adviser saying that he wrote a letter to the state leadership that the primary elections of the party ought to be done in accordance with the constitution, and they refused. The National legal adviser was not present during the failed primary election at the National Stadium in Surulere on the 27th of May, 2017. So, elements came there who were supposed to be the ones to coordinate on behalf of the state leadership and we were now seeing names having being nominated as the candidate of the party, the people protested to the extent that they even stripped the presiding officer, Mr. Tokunbo Afikuyomi before he was rescued. Definitely, that cannot be said to be a disagreement between the National legal adviser, Dr. Muiz Banire SAN and the National leader of our party, it’s just some elements within the party that are doing things that are unconstitutional that he’s trying to guide against in the interest of the party.
In line with the question, you will see that the way things have gone, it may really affect the interest of the party in a negative way, Yoruba’s adage says “if there is no cracks in the wall, a reptile cannot creep in”. In every interview granted by Dr. Muiz Banire, he has always said look ‘the National leader of the party is more or less his father and he cannot be fighting his father, so that’s the position.
Q: But the crisis has so far appeared like it is a caucus thing. Don’t you perceive that?
Ans: If there is a division among the caucus lines, let me trend in line with what you have suggested. The idea is that these individuals
that we are talking about definitely must have been misinforming the National leader of the party, who’s in any way a democrat by all
standards. So what we are saying is that these elements, they impose even down to the issue of councilors. It’s thousand plus councilors
that we are going to have in Lagos state, are we then saying that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu that is imposing this councilors in the
remotest parts of Alimosho, Ijegun? Not at all. There are some local champions who are trying to establish their local interests, who will
now be using the clout of the National leader of the party.
One of them said something recently, that there were more than 37 persons jostling for the ticket in a particular constituency and on
that basis in order not to cause rancor they decided to do it “the Lagos way”, whereas Article 20 of the constitution of the party says
that “there must be primary elections to be organized to nominate a candidate of the party for any elective post so as to avoid any
imposition which may lead to rancor.” I’m quoting more or less the provision of Article 21 of the constitution of the party. So if the
constitution has stipulated what ought to be done, and that is the guiding law, the principle that ought to regulate this proceeding and
somebody is now saying they are doing it the Lagos way. Away from the constitution, definitely that is unacceptable and the problem there is that if they are doing it with the sanction of the National leader.
That is probably the reason they are fueling crisis between the National legal adviser and the National leader, so that the National legal adviser will not have access to the National leader and the National leader will not desire to see the National legal adviser. If there is a crack between two of them, these undemocratic element shall be able to play upon. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a human being, he’s
only one individual with immense attribute and character. If all these people are misadvising such individual to do things in an unconstitutional way and they are making it impossible for there to be a cordial between him and the national legal adviser, definitely there is no way he can be properly advised with respect to what the constitution requires. So if there is a caucus, it means there is caucus of imposition using the clout of the National leader to perpetrate there unconstitutional atrocities and probably they may said to be the
caucus if there is any or the National legal adviser that he’s saying follow the constitution.
Q: Has there been any meeting between the duo, lately, to prove wrong the impression that both are at loggerheads?
Ans: The point is this, I wouldn’t know what could be personal, you know I’m not Muiz Banire and I’m not the National leader of the party
and when these people when they meet I may not be there. Quite but funny, politicians hold meeting in the night, they will invite those
they want to be there and those who are not to be there. Another thing to observe is that this issue of agitation having to hold primary is
started way back in 2014 when we were to do the general election of 2015 when Dr. Muiz Banire came up with the position that the party
must follow the constitution and primary elections must be organized to nominate its candidate, you know they were a lot of uproars then.
These same of individuals who were abusing him, lambasting him but at the end of the day, what did the party do? The party followed the
constitution in line with what he was advising and they did primary.
It was at the primary held for the governorship that governor Ambode emerged. And when you’re talk about the idea of consensus, it means that other candidates agreed that let us use this one, he’s the best of first 11 and all of us are stepping down for him and the
constitution even requires that when other candidates are stepping down like that, there must be Yes or No vote to make it clear to the
whole world that this particular person did not emerged on imposition.
That procedure was followed in 2014. For the House of Assembly, National Assembly they had to do the same thing and that was why in
Lagos state chapter, there were warring cases of people challenge the emergence of a candidate. It was PDP that was alleging that APC did
not do primary according to law which the court said no it is wrong of them to have challenged the primary of APC but in a situation of this nature when that thing happened in 2014/2015 and the National legal adviser insisted that constitution be followed, why in 2017 we are now doing it contrary to the constitution again? So you get my point?
At the National Stadium, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was not there, we did not see him on TV. It was Tokunbo Afikuyomi and some other guys that came to organize the process. So if these individuals know this is the constitution, why didn’t they follow it? Why are they
subverting it? Then, it will be too sad, it will be very sad. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is someone of high intellectualism, a man of high
thinking capacity, a brilliant technocrat and politician per say, all in one. Without even the legal adviser saying it, the constitution is
not a document that is alien to the National leader. So if these individuals are trying to do things their own way and they want to use
the National leader to achieve their aim, one will expect the National leader to say look this is the constitution let us follow it. So that
is why I want to believe with all the sense of modesty, that the National leader is not deep into this thing because left to me, here
is somebody that is making presidents, not only in Nigeria, making vice presidents, governors, do you think it is the issue of the
chairman of a local government will now be a turn in his flare? He would probably say let these boys go and do it, you have my
Ok, let me give you an example, overnight in one particular local government, about two days to election, they swapped the position of
chairman. Somebody has been penciled down as the chairman, another as the vice chairman and they swapped it overnight, I think it was in Shomolu and the vice chairman became chairman and the chairman became vice chairman overnight without any process, without any withdrawal.
Are we saying overnight it was Asiwaju Tinubu that carried it out? The same in another local government here, the person that was to be the chairman had his name on the list up to two day to the election when his name suddenly disappear. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would become someone of octopus ability to be able to tamper with all these things at the same time. So we don’t want to believe that he’s the one doing all these. It’s some local champions, the one in Agege want to control his domain, he has people opposing him and they will be fighting over it. The one in Shomolu will be doing his own, the one in Surulere, the same thing and all of them are laying claims on Asiwaju being their benefactors.
Q: Some observers who reacted to Banire’s outpourings said it was because he failed to get his supporters in Odi-Olowo, Mushin picked as the party’s candidates for the council polls in the area.
Ans: Somebody who in 2014 said for all elective offices in this party primary must be done, they are now saying in 2017 because his
candidates were not imposed, does it really make any sense. Are they saying that he has now gone back to imposition which he cannot allege?
The man wrote a letter to the State secretariat before the whole thing began that let there be primary and I think everybody in Nigeria is
aware of that. He wrote a letter to the chairman of the Lagos APC, chief Henry Ajomale, that there must be primary election in accordance
with Article 20 of the constitution, so that letter, I don’t know how it got into the hands of the Press and probably the following day, it
went viral, is that not so? That was long before the primary was to be held, now when the primary was now held and there was imposition and the moment it started in National Stadium when Tokunbo Afikuyomi started reading some names, that was when people when. So it has not even gotten to Mushin where Dr. Banire hails from to now say whether they will impose there or not. Then, the people that were
contesting in Mushin, all of them are Banire’s boys, all of them, even Razaq Ajala that they finally imposed is a Banire boy. Banire does
not have a choice among these individuals because he wouldn’t want to support one against the other. More so, he‘s saying everybody should go to the plain field to contest and whoever emerges among you he’s my candidate. Razaq Ajala will ordinarily come here to come and see Banire any day, anytime. That was how I got to know him too. Then in Mushin where did they do their primary? So they want to impose all over. He is not clamouring for Mushin alone. He wrote a letter that in Lagos state for the Local government election, there must be primaries. Mushin is one local government out of the 57 local government and LCDAs. When some of them failed because they thought that they will be chosen, they ran down here. We now said you never supported the idea that there should be primaries which we have been talking about. Because you now fail and they did not impose you are coming down here. That is not how it is done. You people go back and tell them that you must do primaries. There is nothing like imposition on the part of Muiz Banire and he has never been party to it. We have been telling them that since 2010, the position of the law has changed. Before the position of the law use to be that the primary of the party is an internal affair of the party. The court will not look into it. The electoral act of 2010 has stipulated the procedures to be followed while nominating the candidate of the party. It is no longer an internal affair of the party. So the court has been throwing out any candidate whose primary was invalidly done or whose emergence no primary was done. So how can people who claim to be sane now be castigating someone who says let your winner stay in office. Let your candidate if he wins be the one to complete his office, not that the court would be the one to throw him out of office.
Q: Lagos state Special Adviser on Community Communication Kehinde Bamgbetan indeed called Banire an opportunist, how do you react to that?
Kehinde Bamigbetan went on air the other to say Dr. Muiz Banire does not have the right to what he is doing. But when they wanted to impose on the same Kehinde Bamigbetan, he ran down to this office for Muiz Banire to protect his interest. And Muiz Banire said, look there must be primaries. It is not Muiz Banire that is saying so, it is the law that is saying so. The Supreme Court is saying so. The electoral acts are saying so. So, if a particular human being that is now saying this is what the court is saying, and people are saying he used to be part of us before. When he (Bamigbetan) left the radio station, Dr. Banire commented thereafter that they should call him back and ask him if he did not run to him when the party wanted to impose a candidate on him in his local government. If the guy did not run down here to say “Muiz Banire, please rescue me…” All of them run down here when the thing does not favour them and Muiz Banire will say I have been telling you people. If all of you have insisted on the part of legality but because they have been benefitting from imposition. They would not want it to change. But when they are gaining upper hands they will now be castigating Muiz Banire.
Q: You said no national officer of the APC could be expelled through protests, but the protesters did submit and listed 17 alleged atrocities committed to warrant his expulsion from the party.
That is the position of the law. No officer of the party can be expelled from the party through mere protest. That is certain. But other feels he is doing anti party activities but one of the allegations is that Dr. Muiz Banire is engaging in anti-party activities. But the point is this, who is the one engaging in anti-party activities now? Somebody is saying this is the constitution, follow it. Some other people are saying no, we won’t follow the constitution, we are going to do it our own way. It is the people who refuse to do the primary election stipulated by the constitution that are doing anti-party activities. They are the one to be expelled from the party. So if they are so powerful that they cannot be expelled from the party, definitely it cannot be somebody who is saying the truth that will now be visited with expulsion from the party. So all the allegations that they said he embezzled campaign funds, which campaign fund? Is it now that they just realized that he embezzled campaign fund? Who gave him campaign fund? Was he ever in charge of campaign funds? For what election? You can see that it is just a mere ranting of lunatics. I am bold to say it all over that it is a mere ranting of lunatics to say that he embezzled campaign funds. Which campaign funds? For what election? When did the election hold? Who gave him the money? Where was the money deposited? So some idiots, jobless idiots just gathered together. Muiz Banire is saying let there be good governance. Let there be good administration. Let there be good implementation of law and order. Let there be good schools for children. Those are the people that cannot afford to pay their children school fees who will be parading from one door step of a leader to another begging for money. The people they are saying should expel Muiz Banire are sponsoring their children abroad.
Their children are graduating from Harvard, Oxford, Yale and so on. Their children will come back and govern these idiots and their children. And they are clamouring that person who is saying that their children should be given quality education, who is saying that their children should be guaranteed a better future, who is saying there should be better housing for every individual, who is saying that our community should not be flooded… When he was Commissioner for Environment, we did not experience the kind of flooding that we experience today. It is history. It tells in his favour. You can imagine what is happening to properties and lives all over.
Q: APC emerged victorious across all the local governments in the state, is this not enough to douse the infighting?
The interest of the people of like minds is that all these issue should be resolved. But I don’t see a crisis, really, strictly speaking. And why am I saying so? Dr. Muiz Banire did not contest for any office, he cannot go to court and be challenging the result of any election. There are about forty cases that are already in court now before the election that people challenged the primary of APC. It is APC versus APC. So we cannot say all the cases will be thrown out or people will go and withdraw them. Well if probably they appeal to them and try to bring about peace and reconciliation, it is possible that the cases may be resolved. And that is my appeal to the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is the generalissimo of the Nigerian politics. He is the national leader. Nobody can dispute that with him. We love him so much. We want him to continue to be our leader. We pray every day for him that he will not die. I pray that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu shall live long enough and be able to achieve the kind of democratic prosperity that we want for every community in Nigeria. I will just appeal to him to call all of his children together. I am one of his children and I am advising my father to call everybody together, to reconcile them and tell them that this is the law, follow it.
You are a promoter of Tiwa n Tiwa l’Osun movement in Osun state. What do you hope to do with it?
Tiwa n Tiwa l’Osun is a socio-political movement that came into existence on the need to achieve democratic excellence, economic prosperity, political advancement and social emancipation for the people of Osun. We want to ensure in Tiwan Tiwa l’Osun that the interest of the masses will always prevail at all times. The achievements of the current administration are quite impressive. More so in the area of infrastructural development and we do not want this advancement to go into ruins. So we want the society to sustain this and ensure that there is greater advancement in economic prosperity for the people. We know that our economy in Osun today suffers a huge dose of stagnation as a result of the recession that has bedeviled the nation called Nigeria. By the time our federal allocation no longer came down as it used to do and which is still the case till now, definitely the current administration suffers and is still suffering till today that the current administration has been battling to survive the economic crisis. So, we are trying in Tiwa n Tiwa l’Osun to ensure that the glorious days of economic prosperity will come back and the kind of progress that we have never experienced before will be the lot of the people of Osun.
Are you interested in governorship, and what do you hope to do differently?
Thank you very much, my target is to become the governor of Osun come 2018 by God’s grace and that is an ambition I no longer hide. I have been consulting with people, leaders of the party, leaders of community and the general populace at large discussing with them and telling them things that I want to do to make sure that their interest will be better protected. Now that the party has not lifted the ban on campaign, I want to believe that the manifesto will be unveiled at the appropriate time. So, I may not be able to disclose right now. But I am looking forward to economic prosperity for the people, the kind that they have never seen before. We are not just mouthing this. We are saying things that we have practically put to writing and as a result of comprehensive research and practical things that we can achieve. We are looking at a situation where the people will be able to gain directly from their political aspirations and that the political and social scenario in Osun today will be elevated beyond the mundane level that people are practicing it today.