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

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?
Exactly
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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