Politician and businessman, Alani Bankole, has hailed former President Olusegun Obasanjo as Nigeria’s best democratically-elected president.
Mr Bankole spoke to journalists Thursday at his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State, ahead of his 83rd birthday on 17 September
He said Mr Obasanjo’s success was as a result of his age while in government.
“Intelligence and ability have nothing to do with age,” he said.
“Having said so, I do not think anyone who is above the age of 60 has any business in politics at the presidential, governorship, or local government level.
“Yes, because I was very close to the former president Olusegun Obasanjo. He became president at the age of 60 and I know that in those days, he doesn’t stop working until 2:00 a.m. and by 7:00 a.m., he will be up again in his pajamas, and until now he is the best president during this their new dispensation and that has to do largely with age.”
Mr Obasanjo was sworn in as a democratic president on 29 May, 1999, at the age of 62.
Mr Bankole, the Oluwo of Iporo Ake and governorship candidate of the National Party of Nigeria(NPN) in 1982, is the father of Dimeji Bankole, a former speaker of the House of Representatives.
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Mr Obasanjo was largely instrumental to the election of the younger Bankole, who represented Abeokuta South federal constituency, as House speaker between 2007 and 2011.
‘Dimeji, a better politician’
Speaking of his ordeals in politics, the elder Bankole recalled that he lost the governorship elections in 1983 because he told the party of his unwillingness to appoint anyone older than him.
This, he said, infuriated the party leaders and led to many legal battles that left the party in disarray ahead of the gubernatorial election then.
He noted that his son, Dimeji, was able to achieve success in politics because he was not as naive as he was in 1983.
“What I have seen is that Dimeji is a better politician than I am because he will not have told any leader what he will do when he comes to power. I believe he achieved all he was able to achieve because he is a better politician than me.”
‘Agitators are charlatans’
Mr Bankole also described agitators calling for the disintegration of Nigeria as charlatans.
“Who are those calling for break away? Who are they? Sunday Igboho? Can he wait to fight you (pointing to a reporter) physically? Why did he run away? Who are the people leading the Yoruba nation or the said breakaway group?
“They are the same people who have openly said they did not support restructuring where there will be different authorities to take care of their resources which is different from breaking away.
“As far as I am concerned, I do not know of any group calling for break away except for a group of charlatans. I don’t have any advice for them because they can not be advised.
“It is like talking about some Pastors and some Imams using the Bible and Quran to defraud people. What do you want to tell them? Nothing! Because they know what they are doing; they are using what they are doing to exploit people.”