Sunday, 6 August 2017

Real Reason why Tinubu fought me in 2002—Sen. Bucknor-Akerele + How Fashola shunned her for 8 years

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Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, former Deputy Governor of Lagos State

In this second edition of our exclusive encounter with the former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, she told Asabeafrika for the first time, the real story behind the fall-out with her former boss, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 2002 which led to her resignation from the cabinet on December 16, 2002.  She resigned after a political misapprehension between herself and her boss snowballed into a larger crisis that warranted her resignation when loyalists of Tinubu in the State House of Assembly moved motion for impeachment against her.
The impeccably gifted woman of style and oratory decided to take a bold step as she resigned from power and put the government to shame in her own remarkable effort. Her successor, Mr. Femi Pedro, a banker was given a worse treatment as he was equally sacked in 2007 by the same assembly that made a move to impeach Bucknor-Akerele. Therefore, she became the first political office holder at her level, and in a state like Lagos, to resign her position without recourse to any political gratification. 
Senator Bucknor-Akerele  who is a former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is also a member of the Pan Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere and a distinguished member of the Yoruba Unity Forum founded by late Chief Mrs. Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo and late Ooni  of Ile-Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade (Olubuse II).  Her revelations will shock you. Enjoy the excerpts.
Let’s go into the APC debacle in Lagos State. Recently and prior to the July 22 local government election in the State, the national legal adviser of the party, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN) decided to battle the ‘imposition’ (Baba S’ope) policy of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is the national leader of the party on majority of the LGA candidates, insisting that there must be internal democracy against consensus candidacy which has been a norm for a while. As a former Deputy Governor to Mr. Tinubu, do you see Banire winning this course which is seen as a wake-up call by many?
The GDA meets Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele

Well, I don’t see how Muiz Banire will win in Lagos state because, let’s face, the courts are controlled by the Lagos state government. Maybe at the Supreme Court he might win. But certainly not in the Lagos state courts. LASIEC (Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission) and the courts are controlled by the state; and of course we got a situation where the police, the SSS are also controlled by the APC; and in the last election, I don’t know where they got their figures from because I was out…
(Cuts in) You mean the July 22 LGA election?
Sen. Bucknor-Akerele....'LASIEC & the Courts in Lagos are controlled by LASG'
Yes. In my ward here, people did not come out. There were places where there were no votes at all; and then, I don’t know whether you have seen the photograph of the woman leader of Eti-Osa LGA, how she was beaten up because she asked for accountability.
(Cuts in) You mean the PDP woman leader?
I think it is on WhatsUp, you need to see her face bruised up.
You mean she was beaten up by whom and for what reason?
Sen. Bucknor-Akerele....'The July 22 LGA election in Lagos was a sham'
No, people that were angry because she was an agent and she wanted to be there to see the votes of her party candidate; the PDP woman leader in Eti-Osa was beaten up. If you go outside there is a meeting going on, go and interview some of the people they would tell you that they were being threatened, people were pointing guns at them and saying ‘you better write whatever’.
You mean because of this last local government election?
Yes, is that the sort of democracy we want?
When you resigned from Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s cabinet on December 16, 2002, a lot of people felt you were wrong; they taught you were arrogant, egocentric and didn’t want to be under the authority of a man, what really led to your resignation?
Sen. Bucknor-Akerele to Asabeafrika....'I was never arrogant to my boss'
But you are seeing me today; do I look like an arrogant person? Do I look like an egocentric person?
Not to my knowledge ma
I don’t think I am an arrogant person. I think I am a very simple; I am very down to earth person. But when things are going wrong, then you have a choice to either join them or to leave them; and in any case, it was obvious that Tinubu was out to ruin my reputation and my family advised me to leave. In fact, they insisted that I resigned; that they don’t want a situation where our family name is being dragged in the mud by somebody who is not even a Lagosian. And we are a very well known Lagos family on both sides of my family.
A lot of people were waiting for you to be impeached and some people felt you equally needed that position and you wanted to be there but suddenly you resigned
Sen. Bucknor-Akerele to Asabeafrika....'I resigned from Tinubu's cabinet because of my reputation'
Yes, I wanted to be there because I wanted to be relevant to try and make a difference, to try and improve Lagos state. But since I was not even given the chance and I was being ignored. There was no point in my insisting on staying there. After all, as my family said ‘you have built your house in Victoria Island even before you became a senator. You have your own business, so what are you staying there for?’
So, what really led to the fight?
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.....Planning to be Nigeria's President since year 2002?
I will tell you today, it all started with his ambition to become Vice President to Atiku Abubakar (Then Vice President of Nigeria under PDP). By then, because of the way we came in, he told me he wanted to become the Vice President to Atiku Abubakar and I told him ‘look, we are elected here by our leaders in afenifere and we must respect their wish’. But it appeared that he wasn’t ready to carry them along. We were discussing it when Lai Mohammed
Alhaji Lai Mohammed....Tinubu's boy-man for life?
(Who was Tinubu’s Chief of Staff at the time) walked in; and he (Lai Mohammed) tried to convince me that it was possible. I said to them ‘it is too early for us to be discussing 2007 in 2002 and more over, Atiku is not in our party, how do you become his VP?’. Lai said to me ‘Then, wait and see’. But I refused to support the agenda because I felt our leaders put us there and we mustn’t disobey them. Since that day, he changed towards me and that was the beginning of his war against me.
How will you describe Senator Bola Tinubu as a person?
Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu....A Democrat or an Autocrat?
Well, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a person is somebody who is very egocentric. He is a controlling personality and he believes that whatever he wants is what must be. I am not saying he is not a political strategist; he is a good political strategist, yes. But he is a very domineering character and he does not like opposition at all.
Can you say he is an autocrat?
Yes, I think he is an autocrat.
We also learn that since you left in 2002, you have been punished with some of your benefits and fringes as former Deputy Governor, why?
New Governor Akinwunmi Ambode....Gives a listening ear and eradicated Sen. Bucknor Akerele's 8 Years Challenges
No, all that has changed now, since Ambode came in. I spoke with him and I had a meeting with him and he promised to start paying my entitlements.
I thought the issue cropped up under Governor Raji Fashola and it came to fore under Ambode?
No, no, Ambode has stepped in and he is a very gentle man.
So how would you describe Ambode and Fashola’s reaction to your dilemma?
I have only met Ambode twice. One, at a social occasion and secondly, I had a face to face (meeting) with him; and he was very respectful, and he seems to be a fair man because he said ‘well, this is your entitlement’ and he called them and said ‘go and give it to her’.
What about Fashola?
Ex-Lagos Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola....shunned Senator Kofoworola Bucknor for 8 Years
Fashola never replied a single one of my letters.
How many letters?
There is a whole file of them there (Pointed to a section of her living room)
And he didn’t give a single reply or phone call?
Not at all
Why do you think he is like that?
Well, I don’t know.
I mean he is a lawyer, you are equally a lawyer?
Maybe his master’s voice
With what happened with the last LGA election in Lagos State, there is this perception that Lagos is in the grip of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the APC and that PDP is dead. Do you think Lagos can ever be taken from the APC?
The GDA engages Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele
Well, with time, if the people of Lagos decide that they want to do it. If they will not be bribed with N500 and a bag of rice, they will do it. If they have started enough, they will do it. Because at the moment, they are complaining they are suffering but they are still allowing themselves to be bribed.
With the recent altercation between the Lagos APC and the national working committee over the Muiz Banire issue, do you think the national body is also seeing the Lagos party as an oppressor and might likely proffer a solution?
The Senator explaining a point to the GDA during the encounter
Well, I don’t know what the party (at the national level) is trying to do because I am not in their party.
Do you agree that PDP is dead in Lagos State?
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan....The Last PDP President?
PDP is not dead. The people out there (Having a meeting in her house) are very many and they are from different Local Government Areas; they represent different local government areas in Lagos State and they are having a meeting of PDP here in my house. PDP is far from dead, and when you go out people are saying they want PDP to come back. I mean they are looking at it from the point of if they want PDP to come back at the center. But certainly, I think if we can face the thuggery and we stop the intimidation and the electoral malpractices. If PDP can get itself together and deal with that, I think PDP can certainly get Lagos state; but it cannot be done without the help of the people themselves.
You mean the grass root?
Yes, the grass root people
You mean the people who collect Ankara, Rice and N200 from politicians?
Analysts believe that poverty is equally a weapon of mass destruction that the incumbent government is using to hold the people down. Do you agree?
Sen. Bucknor-Akerele to Asabeafrika.....'If our people can stop collecting stipends-for-vote, they will get a new leadership in Lagos State'
Of course, poverty is a serious concern. In fact, during this last local government election in Lagos State, people were saying ‘well, why should I come out in any case? They are going to write it. So, my vote will not count. So, you could see how the morale of the people has been wrecked by what is happening.
You think their effort at choosing their own leaders at the grass root have been diminished and they have surrendered to the tricks of the ruling party?
Well, we are trying to get them not to surrender by saying ‘you must rise up’ because if you want your life to change, you have to change it yourself.
Now, looking back at what happened to you in 2002, the way you were railed out of government, would you still love to be a deputy to Bola Ahmed Tinubu if the opportunity re-present itself?
Sen. Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele to Asabeafrika....'Afenifere leadership chose me to work with Tinubu not by my volition'
No, I never wanted to be deputy governor to Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the first place; it was because the elders of the party prevailed upon me to be. Because the AD at that time was formed as a whole by NADECO and Afenifere and Bola Ahmed Tinubu was not a member of Afenifere. He was in Justice Forum which was founded by late Dr. Wahab Dosunmu. But we were both in the same political party but we had hoped that Dr. Wahab Dosunmu would be the candidate of the party and at that time I was ready to be his deputy because he was a gentle man. But when it happened that Tinubu was declared the winner, it then occurred to the leaders of the party, the founders of the party that Afenifere will have nothing in the government because Tinubu was in Justice Forum. So, they prevailed upon me to become his deputy.
So, from day one you didn’t even know you were going to be his deputy?
Sen. Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele.....'I didn't plan to work with Tinubu in 1999 and if there is another opportunity, i will certainly not take it'
Yes, because Tinubu and I have been together in the senate. So I knew the sort of character he was; so I wasn’t very keen on becoming his deputy but because the elders of the party prevailed upon me to take up the position.
But if you have the chance all over again, would you still want to become Tinubu’s Deputy? I mean, would you still take up the position if there is a reincarnation?
Certainly not

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