Chief Bisi Akande
By Olaolu Olusina
A frontline chieftain of Yoruba socio-political organisation Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Saturday called the National Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and former Osun State governor, Chief Bisi Akande, a figure-head ACN chairman.
He said Afenifere leaders had no regret whatsoever backing the re-election bid of Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko of the Labour Party (LP).
Adebanjo was reacting to an interview in a national newspaper in which the ACN chairman had lampooned the Afenifere leaders for supporting Mimiko’s second term bid, describing them as fake Awoists with no political asset.
In the interview, Akande had carpeted Afenifere leader Chief Reuben Fasoranti and other chieftains such as Adebanjo and Chief Olu Falae, saying, “I don’t bother about people like Ayo Adebanjo, because people like him had never contested, talk less winning an election in his life. Ayo Adebanjo is no political asset to anybody. These people are all picking crumbs on governors’ tables. They have been picking crumbs on the table of Ogun State governor, during the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) days in that state. So, it will not surprise me if they are now picking crumbs on Governor Mimiko’s table in the Labour Party.”
Taking issues with Akande in a statement made available to THISDAY in Lagos Saturday, Adebanjo said: “If Bisi Akande, the figure head chairman of the ACN (which the Yoruba will call ologomugomu chairman) had confined his criticism of me to my not being an electoral asset because I have never contested any election in this country, I would have ignored him and would not have bothered to dignify his ignorant and ill-informed statement which has become his sing-song criticism of me without any response.”
According to Adebanjo: “The reason for this is simple. He is too junior to me politically for me to enter into political disputation with him. But when he opened his mouth so wide to call me his political leader who was the chairman of the party AD on whose platform he contested and won the election to become the governor of Osun State in 1999-2003, a fake Awoist, I believe Bisi Akande is, indeed, what the Yoruba will call ‘Omoatiro to lo da bata fun baba e oro lofegbo’, literally meaning ‘the son of a lame father who thoughtlessly bought a pair of shoes for his father needs to be reminded of the physical position of his father).’”
He said further: “In the first place, where is Bisi Akande coming from to be qualified to define who is an “Awoist”. Because Awoists have existed in the 50’s long before the late Chief Bola Ige recruited him from the NCNC into the UPN in 1979 and made him an emergency deputy governor to replace the late Chief Sunday Afolabi, who had defected from the party to join the NPN Bisi Akande was the beneficiary of the plum political office of deputy governor because he comes from the same constituency as Chief Sunday Afolabi; otherwise his senior members of the party like Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa, Hon. Lere Adebayo,Chief Abayomi Morakinyo who were already in Chief Bola Ige’s cabinet would have been considered. These gentlemen in spite of any political disagreement will not refer to me as a fake Awoist.”
Providing a historical background of the term “Awoist” and how it entered Nigeria’s political lexicon, Adebanjo said, “The populist political philosophy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo which encompasses welfare programs among which are free education, free medical services, integrated rural development and full employment with which he painstakingly administered the old Western region from 1952-1959 acclaimed world-wide and was termed Awoism.”
Also, South-west chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) slammed Akande over his utterances.
In a statement signed by the PDP Zonal Publicity Secretary, Hon. Kayode Babade, the PDP said “it is an insult for a figure-head chairman of a party of money launderers, ex-convicts, certificates and identity forgers like the ACN, who himself sacked thousands of workers when he was Osun State governor to be sermonising about Awoism.
“To complement this was his advocacy for federalism under a parliamentary system of government and a political ideology of democratic socialism. His party the Action Group also known as Afenifere in western region was acclaimed to be the best organised, democratic and the best disciplined party in the whole of West Africa.
He was acclaimed the leader of progressive politics in Nigeria and his members and believers in these combined attributes are known and called “Awoist”.
Maintaining that he was “a known leading member and mobiliser of the party during this period,” Adebanjo asked rhetorically, “Where was Bisi Akande during this period and what role did he play to be in a position to pontificate on who is an ‘Awoist’.”
He said if the fact that he never contested and won an election was the criteria of judging an “Awoist” by Akande, he (Adebanjo) was happy to be in the good company of past leaders of the party such as Chief S.O Shonibare (one of the founders of the A.G), Chief Afred Rewane, Chief S.O Lanlehin, Dr.J. Akanni Doherty, Chief Ladipo Amose all of blessed memory who, according to him, laboured faithfully to popularise the Action Group with the philosophy of Awoism and never contested election.