Former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Colonel Ahmadu Ali (rtd) has come under the attack of more prominent Yoruba leaders and groups who are spitting fire over Ali’s verbal missile against Yoruba people.
The PDP chieftain had in an interview with Saturday Sun accused the Yoruba people as the most ungrateful race in the country. Though various groups had been taking him on over his comment since last week, some Yoruba leaders who spoke with Saturday Sun on Thursday described the comment as careless and reckless even as they demanded an apology from him.
A frontline leader of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organization,Chief Ayo Adebanjo wondered what exactly informed the reckless comment attributed to Ali. ”What does he know about Yoruba? One can understand his loyalty to Obasanjo his leader. But if the type of leadership exhibited by Obasanjo is what he expects us to recognise and adore, Obasanjo is not our type of leader.
”His comment is irrelevant. I don’t personally take it serious.
Ali is not of any importance and I am not attaching any importance to his comment. Obasanjo, his boss is not of any significance as far as we are concerned”, he declared.
Speaking officially on behalf of Afenifere, spokesman of the organisation, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said Ali was ignorant of what he was saying because Yoruba people are better informed, educated and exposed than him. Such a sweeping condemnation of a race, he said, speaks volumes about the strength of character of the man who made the comment adding that: “We expect that he would apologize. He should apologize”.
Asked what the organization would do if Ali refuses to apologize, he said social sanction would be imposed on him. He gave examples of people on whom social sanction was placed in the past. For instance, he said, a man who served in General Sani Abacha’s administration was sanctioned. Part of what he suffered was that when he entered the venue of a grand occasion, people would move out in large numbers to protest his presence. ”We have a way of imposing social sanctions on anybody which the person will not like,” he said.
Odumakin believes that Ali was trying to prove how loyal he is to his boss, General Olusegun Obasanjo whom he expected Nigerians to worship as an outstanding leader. “If that is his own way of appreciating or recognizing leaders, Yoruba have different standards. Awolowo died long ago and he is still revered in Yoruba land. He enrolled over 100,000,00 pupils in one day. Those pupils are today professors and captains of industry.
Wole Soyinka said he was a beneficiary of Awolowo policy on education even though he was a student at tertiary level. The greatest sacrilege anybody can commit in Yoruba land today is to be described as anti Awolowo person. Awolowo served Yoruba people well.
” What has Obasanjo done for the Southwest or Nigeria that we should be grateful to him? The roads in the southwest are bad. He did nothing to improve the roads. Even the road to his Ota farm is not motorable. He has now moved to Abeokuta. He used to fly to his farm in Ota by helicopter.
”The money Nigeria made between 1999 and 2007 when Obasanjo ruled Nigeria is more than the money made between 1960 and 1999. What did he do with it? When he left jail, he had to go for N100, 000 overdraft in order to survive. Today, he is one of the richest Nigerians alive”, he stated.
Founder of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Dr. Fredrick Fasehun wondered on what ground Yoruba can be said not to be grateful. He asked: “Is it on the ground that we are being marginalized? Out of the first 116 important positions in Nigeria, Yoruba don’t have up to 6.
”My position is that medical doctors don’t make sweeping statements like that. Ali must have been confused. He didn’t know whom to accuse of ingratitude. What does he expect the Yoruba to be grateful for? Does he want us to be grateful for marginalization? Does he want us to be grateful for being kept out of Nigeria’s lifeline? Does he want us to be grateful for being kept out of the presidency, Senate, House of Representatives, the judiciary, police, EFCC, ICPC, NUC? What is he talking about? That is why I said he must have been a confused man.
”Is Ali more Yoruba than Obasanjo? What has the matter of gratitude got to do with him? Obasanjo is a Yoruba through and through. Obasanjo did not complain that his people do not love him. If we didn’t love Obasanjo, we would not have fought for him when Ali and his group were going to impeach him. We came out to say that don’t try it.
Why did we come out? In any case, Ali has no locus standi in this matter. He cannot be more Yoruba than the Yoruba person, which Obasanjo is.” Making reference to the era of Ali in the early 1960s, he said he mismanaged the education of students as a commissioner He also made reference to how 10 students died during protests during Ali’s era as education.