The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday said Nigeria was bigger than Chief Ayo Adebanjo, elder statesman and one of the leaders of Afenifere.
The APC said Adebanjo could not, under the circumstances, determine for Nigerians who they wanted as their president.
The party said Adebanjo’s will could not stand against the will of millions of Nigerians who elected President Muhammadu Buhari as their president for the next four years through the ballot.
It would be recalled that Adebanjo had dared the Federal Government to arrest him over his statement that he would not recognise President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the 2019 presidential election until proven by the courts.
Adebanjo, in an interview, had also described the 2019 presidential election as a farce, saying he could not recognise him as president-elect.
Adebanjo, who also expressed optimism that Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), would get justice at the court, also said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wrongly declared President Buhari as winner of the election.
However, speaking on Wednesday, Yekini Nabena, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, said Adebanjo’s decision not to recognise President Buhari as winner of the election could not be binding on other Nigerians.
Nabena said: “His will cannot stand against the will of Nigerians. Nigerians have spoken through the ballot.
“They used their voter cards in electing who they desire as president, and President c was adjudged by the electoral umpire, INEC, as the choice of the majority.
“But he (Adebanjo) has been saying no, that he will not recognise the president. That can only be binding on him and his family members. Nigeria is bigger than him.”
Also speaking on Adebanjo’s comment, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), said although Adebanjo was a very principled man who had always been in the vanguard of restructuring, he derailed when he pitched his tent with former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“If you know the history of Adebanjo, he is a very highly principled man. A man who had been with Awolowo from beginning, he never looked for political office and he is very steadfast. But, you know, no matter how great you are, at times, you can derail.
“You can miss the road by taking a wrong direction. My honest belief is that I respect Chief Adebanjo greatly and I don’t want to say anything negative about him because he is like a father to me, but let me say this, he took the wrong decision when he joined former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“For a man of integrity, which he is, he took that wrong turn because he was looking for restructuring. That mistake has totally derailed him in many ways because restructuring will come, but I don’t know why he has decided to mix with the wrong company.”
On Adebanjo’s remarks that he would not recognise President Buhari as the winner of the elections, Sagay said it was inconsequential as the whole world acknowledged Buhari as the winner through various congratulatory messages.
“Now, as to the issue of recognising the president or not, that is irrelevant. Adebanjo knows it himself.
“The world recognises President Buhari. Nigerians also recognises him. The votes have been cast, a winner has been declared and he will be sworn-in. That one man does not recognise him makes no difference.
“But, as I said, he is a man I respect very much. I hardly will say anything against him because if you look at his background, he comes a long way in terms of integrity, principles and loyalty to the beliefs he has. He is a good man, but he has derailed in politics.”
Also speaking on calls by some Nigerians for Adebanjo’s arrest, Sagay said as a man who has become an institution in the country, nobody can arrest Adebanjo.
“The man is an institution. Just like Edwin Clark and Wole Soyinka. Nobody can touch such people because if you touch them, you are really touching Nigeria’s history and everything the country stands for.
“So, nobody will touch Adebanjo because he is an institution and he knows that. Nothing can happen to him for expressing his opinion.
“He is respected by government even though they know he is a very strong opponent. Nobody will touch him,” Sagay said.
When contacted, the presidency on Wednesday said it would not comment on the remarks made by the elder statesman.
Speaking, Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, to the President, said he had no reaction to Adebanjo’s statement, adding that the Afenifere leader was merely expressing his opinion.
“I don’t have any reaction to what he has said. He is only expressing his opinion.”
On calls by some Nigerians that Adebanjo should be arrested, Shehu said those making the calls were also expressing their opinion which is very different from Adebanjo’s views.
“They are also expressing their opinion, which means their opinion is different from his own,” Shehu said.