Tinubu is the best for Nigeria in 2023 -Adeyeye

 

Senator Adedayo Adeyeye is the chairman of South West Agenda, SWAGA, a group mobilizing support for the 2023 presidential ambition of the national leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. In this interview with our man, OLUGBENGA SALAMI, the experienced politician, who was the Director of Publicity, Falae for President Campaign Organisation (1990-1992), Adviser on Policy and Press Matters, M.K.O. Abiola for President Campaign Organisation (1993); a former spokesperson for the Alliance for Democracy, AD, People’s Democratic Party, PDP and the Senate, among others, spoke on a number of issues, including the achievements of SWAGA, 2023 general elections and Tinubu’s chance of picking the APC ticket and subsequently becoming the next president. Excerpts:

 

 

Sir, you are at the forefront of the South West Agenda, otherwise known as SWAGA which was launched in Ibadan, Oyo State, recently. What is the latest development about the movement, because much is not heard of it after the launching?

 

No, it means you have not been following our event; the agenda is very much in the front burner of politics in Nigeria. We launched it on the 15th of December, 2020 in Ibadan and after that, we have also launched it in Osun State on January 19, 2021, and prior to that launching, we visited some traditional rulers and political leaders in the state on the 17th and 18th of the same month. All these were well covered and reported by the press in Nigeria, both the print and electronics.

There were real issues and we went to the palaces of the Ooni of Ife and Ataoja of Osogbo where we made a lot of statements that were given adequate publicity.

If you recall, we had the official launching of the agenda on the 19th in Osun where the Oluwo of Iwo spoke eloquently and even put a curse on anybody in Yorubaland that try to stop Tinubu from becoming president in 2023. It was a three-day event in Osun State.

Thereafter, we went to Ogun State in February and also spent three days there to visit eminent political leaders and traditional rulers. We were in the palaces of the Akarigbo of Remoland, Alake of Egbaland and Olu of Ilaro where all of them made a lot of statements.

If I could recollect, Alake said that he had seen it some years ago that Tinubu will be president of Nigeria and all the traditional rulers we visited prayed for his success.

We also visited the former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and told us categorically that he’s going to support Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. In fact, he also told us that SWAGA is the biggest thing that is happening in the political arena of Nigeria today and the greatest thing to have happened in South West politics.

So, it cannot be correct that much has not been heard of us after we launch the agenda in Ibadan. In fact, activities have been going on in every nook and cranny of the South West. SWAGA is now in every ward and local government of the South West.

By the grace of God, we are going to launch the Ondo State chapter of the agenda in early April and I can assure you that it’s going to be a huge success like in the previous states it has been launched. After Ondo, we will move to Ekiti State.

So, a lot of activities have been going on in SWAGA and many groups have joined us. They were independent groups working for the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC and ultimately as the president of Nigeria. Many of these groups have since collapsed their structures into our own and we are working together. We are happy and satisfied that SWAGA has been moving in a very rapid manner.

 

Is there any plan by the group to reach out to other regions since you are working for Tinubu to become president of Nigeria in 2023?

 

This is a South West agenda and it is basically for the region. Other regions may decide to have similar structure or organization to support Tinubu. Politics is local and because of religious, cultural and other differences, the way each region approaches issues differs from one another.

So, we are mainly concerned about the South West, but I can also say that since we started here, some people have copied us in some other regions. I have the honour to announce that I have been invited to Akwa Ibom State for the launching of a similar organization very soon and similar things are going on in many states of the federation, all of which were galvanized from the activities of SWAGA in the South West.

 

But in the South West, we have an influential group like Afenifere which was its former spokesperson that is not supporting Tinubu for president. In fact, the group, going by the reports credited to some of its leaders, is clamouring for the presidency to go to the South East in 2023. What efforts are you making to reach out to its leaders to change their hardline stance?

 

I am not aware of that and if they say so, they are not right. It means they are not fighting for the interest of the Yoruba race and that should not be so for Afenifere which is essentially a socio-cultural group fighting for the interest of the Yorubas. I can tell you that as a former national spokesperson of Afenifere and still a major stakeholder, such a statement by its leaders is capable of causing division and destruction of the group.

The position of its leaders in the presidency come 2023 cannot be correct and I will oppose it any day and any time. We want the presidency right now and I am in a position to counter anybody who opposes it, because such a person cannot be speaking on behalf of the Yoruba race.

 

Sir, who is sponsoring SWAGA and how do you intend to achieve your aim of selling Tinubu to at least the majority of Yorubas?

 

SWAGA is being sponsored by members of the organization. It is a voluntary organization of eminent politicians in Yorubaland with the common objectives of selling Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the president of Nigeria, propagating his philosophy and marketing it throughout the length and breadth of the South West in particular and the entire country in general.

So, it is self-financing, we contribute money on our own and I can say without any fear of contradiction that we are not being financed by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Secondly, since we launched the organization, we have recorded tremendous achievements. We are being received well everywhere we go and the message is being taken positively by the people of Yorubaland. The organization is spreading like wildfire throughout the length and breadth of the South West.

The song being sung in every part of the region now is SWAGA. Like I said earlier, the former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel said the organization is the best thing to have happened to the South West right now and this is a man who is in a position to know better, having been a governor for eight years and still an eminent politician in the country.

Although obas don’t normally take sides in politics, they hardly express any view either for or against any person, that norm has been set aside everywhere we have visited in Yorubaland. All the obas have openly declared their support for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Therefore, I can say we have achieved to a large extent in selling him to the people of South West and I believe that our people will embrace this project. By the grace of God, we are going to achieve our objectives.

 

Without the risk of taking you back, 2023 is still far and don’t you think Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, who according to reports, is also seeking to become the president, will feel offended by what SWAGA is doing?

How can you offend somebody in politics when you are only propagating your own interest, there is no offence in that. Anybody who wants to be president should also come out and market himself or get people to do that for him.

In politics, people show interest in any office and sell themselves and their programmes to the electorate or are lucky to have individuals and groups do that on his behalf. That is exactly what we are doing for Tinubu, even though he has not mandated us to mobilise for him, we have identified him as the best candidate that we can push forward.

This is important because the presidency has not been zoned to the South West, but it’s going to be zoned to the South and when that is done, the South East and South South equally have the right to compete for it. So, the region that is able to market its candidate will win the ticket at the end of the day.

Therefore, we believe that the South West needs to work hard and move faster than the other zones in the South in selling and projecting our own candidate very well so that at the end of the day, we will be able to carry the trophy.

So, there is no offence in what we are doing for Tinubu, politics is a game and people are allowed to come out as many as possible. We are not saying anybody who wanted to show interest in the presidency in the South West should not do so. Anybody who is interested should come out and may have some groups to work for him too, because it is going to be a game of numbers at the end of the day.

I don’t know the person you are referring to; he has not told me he is interested in the presidency. To me, it’s still a mere speculation in the press. In fact, we have no right to close the door against anybody, but we have the right to promote and protect our own candidate and that is what we are doing.

 

Sir, going by the performance of the APC-led federal government, do you think the party can consolidate on its previous electoral victories in 2023?

 

You have to note one thing. The performance of APC can be debated from now till 2023. While some people will say APC has performed well, others may disagree vehemently, but at the end of the day, Nigerians will look at the personality and antecedents of the party’s candidate. They will also look at his manifesto and what they think is capable of doing for them, and on that basis, they will make their informed judgment.

So, let’s wait till that time and we are confident that if Tinubu should emerge as the candidate of APC, we have a reasonable chance of emerging victorious in the general elections.


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