Vanguard (Lagos)

30 January 2008

Nigeria: Why We're Backing Anyim for PDP Chairmanship Seat, By Yesufu

interview

Abubakar Yesufu needs no introduction. Former President Student Union, University of Benin. Current Chairman, League of Patriotic Lawyers. He was one of the 22 lawyers Chief Gani Fawehinmi led to defend the late M.K.O Abiola in the famous case of Supreme Court Judges vs Concord Press. He once led Nigerians in Diaspora to demonstrate at the White House Lawn, Washington DC, USA, to validate and recognise the June 12 mandate won by M.KO Abiola in 1993. Notable for his pin-point predictions, has once again directed the all powerful League of Patriotic Lawyers to support Anyim Pius Anyim as the Chairmanship candidate of PDP. He opens up on a number of topical issues. Excerpts:...

Why is the League of Patriotic Lawyers which is supposed to be apolitical now seems to be delving into politics, showing its interest in the election of a particular candidate for the PDP National Chairmanship seat?

Indeed, you will agree with me that the league is apolitical because our interest lies only in promoting young vibrant political activists or politicians who are capable of delivering the goods, no matter which party they belong.

For instance, we backed Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola for the governorship of Lagos State, and he is in the Action Congress (AC). Anyim Pius Anyim who we are supporting for the position of People Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairmanship seat, is a lawyer and activist that succeeded in emphasing the independence of the legislative arm of government, when he was the President of the Senate.

Despite the onslaught to undo him, he continued to navigate the ship or the state of the Senate. He showed such brilliance, such independence and such transparency that he became the darling of many Nigerians, just like Ken Nnamani.

Our source or strength lies in the fact that we have past union leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives as members. They are also in all the states of the federation as delegates. We are sensitising the delegates to cast their votes to ensure that Anyim Pius Anyim emerges victorious. We are fully mobilized for this assignment. We have more than 10,000 registered members nationwide for this purpose.

Charity begins at home, how would you see the rumbling in Edo State for the control of the Party (PDP) and who would your League support as the Chairmanship Candidate?

I am very reluctant to speak on this for 2 reasons; Edo State is my State and I would not like to drag the League into partisan politics.

Anyway, since I am concerned, I will open up. The League has endorsed Dan Ossi Orbih as our Chairmanship candidate. He alone, among the contestants, has the charisma, charm and integrity to lead the party in Edo State.

Forget the opposition from opportunists, ethnic gladiators and even the born-again messiah from Etsakor land. We have endorsed him and we shall also direct all patriotic delegates to do the same. We are working in league with concerned Edo citizens, our worthy affiliate for the necessary endorsement.

How about the overbearing posture of Chief Tony Anenih and Admiral Mike Okhai Akhighe, rtd?

Well, that is rather unfortunate. Let me quickly mention here that I am not a fan of Chief Anenih. But Anenih remains one of the most selfless leaders not only in Edo State but in Nigeria. The truth is leaders from Edo State are demanding exotic jeeps and cash gifts from aspirants to get political endorsement and they might even end up bringing their sons and daughters to serve as commissioners and chairmanship candidates of these slots.

Once you are endorsed by Anenih, he will procure your forms for you and would not ask for a kobo. Check the candidates he has presented for political offices and see whether anyone paid any money for such positions.

Let us forget ethic champions masquerading as patriots. We know our heroes and villains. We would not be deceived. We have settled for Dan Ossi Orbih as Chairmanship candidate for Edo State. Equity demands that Etsakor should produce the next Chairmanship candidate.

On Ibrahim Lamorde, how were you able to predict correctly that he would become the chairman of EFCC, though still in acting capacity?

The League of Patriotic Lawyers has a file on every public officer that handles sensitive issues. We reasoned that putting a new man in the helms of affairs of the EFCC, could jeopardize the efforts of the anti-graft body.

Lamorde was endorsed by us because of his track records. We had a press conference and issued a recommendation which was sent to President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. We mentioned in our recommendation that Ibrahim Lamorde had been the heart of the EFCC, though Nuhu Ribadu was the arrow head.

Lamorde actually carried out most of the high profile arrests, investigations and prosecutions. His choice by the President to head the EFCC is no doubt commendable, considering his academic background, various police trainings at home and abroad, and his enviable track records.

On Obafemi Awolowo's Status that was recently pulled down by Governor Alao Akala of Oyo State?

Efforts to obliterate Awos achievements not only in the old western region but in the entire country and even African continent will fail. Awo's status in our mind remains indelible forever.

How can you obliterate his free education? His pioneering effort in establishing the first Broadcasting/TV House in Africa. His love for sports as reflected by the building of the Liberty Stadium.

His love for scholarship when he established University of Ife otherwise known as Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). I wonder which government can uproot all those achievements. I think the best statue of Awolowo is the statue in the minds and hearts of men. Whosoever pulled down that structure has failed again, as it has made Awolowo statue in the minds of men taller and taller by the day.

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