Ali, who said this in an interview, was speaking on the background of the fact that former head of state, General Olusegun Obasano (retd) could have held on to power in 1979 but chose to hand over to a democratically elected president.
According to him, “After all, it is the gun that got them there. And you people still don’t recognise him (Obasanjo), especially the Yoruba people who are totally ungrateful kind of people in this country.” When prodded further on if he should be quoted, Ali thundered, “Put it like that. They are ungrateful” and went further to correct the impression that Obasanjo was unfair to Yoruba people throughout his time in government. “What do you mean by being unfair to them?” he asked.
“He is not a tribalist and he was not ruling a Yoruba kingdom. He ruled Nigeria. My own kingdom is one of the oldest kingdoms in this country –Igala kingdom. By 1100 or so when the barbarians were invading Britain, Igala was already a kingdom. How do you expect the man to behave?”
And on the now famous 2/3 controversy which erupted following the elections that produced Alhaji Shehu Shagari as civilian President in 1979 as against the choice of Chief Obafemi Awolowo – Obasanjo’s kinsman, Colonel Ahmadu Ali (retd) as he was known then, responded, “Don’t talk rubbish. You are talking rubbish” he fumed at his interviewer. “That is the stupidity of the press and the self-appointed Yoruba leaders who are failures in their various fields of endeavour. They are just a total failure. How can you say in an election where one candidate scored 12 million and showed presence in more than 12 states out of 19 and another candidate scored five million and showed presence in only five states, you then give it to the second person? What is democracy about? Is it a game of numbers?
All the argument is about 12 two third? What is two third? The man had 12 states and 12 million votes. Awolowo had only five million and only in five states. You want to go and give it to him? Yoruba are another character.”