LEADER of Afenifere, Ayo Adebanjo, stated that the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation has decided to support the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, because he is the man that the group can trust to restructure the country.
Adebanjo said Obi could bring the country back to federalism
on the assumption of office in 2023.
At a press conference held today at Whitebaker Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, Adebanjo said Afenifere would not compromise its principle of equity, justice and inclusiveness even though a candidate from the Southwest, Bola Tinubu, is also contesting on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Before the political parties conducted their primaries, a journalist asked what is my view about the 2023 general elections. I answered and said the country should be restructured before the general elections, and he followed up by asking if there should be an election, which zone should the Presidency come from? And I unhesitatingly said, of course, the South East,” the Afenifere leader said.
Adebanjo went further to say that after the primaries and the candidates emerged, not a few Yoruba leaders questioned why he should be supporting Obi of Igbo extraction against Tinubu, a Yoruba.
He said he took his time to explain that the Presidency is not a contest between the Yorubas and the Igbos, and to a large extent, he convinced many.
“Let me state here for the benefit of those who may not know that Afenifere is the Yoruba interpretation of the social welfarist ideology of Action Group, a political party founded by Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his colleagues in 1951 with strong advocacy for federalism as the best form of government to give the federating units the requisite autonomy to thrive and peacefully compete among themselves for the ultimate development of Nigeria.
“The system was eventually agreed to by our founding fathers, Sir Ahmad Bello, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and endorsed by the Colonial Secretary, Sir Oliver Littleton, in 1954 and embodied in the 1960 independence constitution,” he said.
The nonagenarian said that long before the parties conducted their Conventions to elect their National Executives and candidates, the group had insisted on and still advocates restructuring before the elections and proposed a synthesis of the identical Resolutions of the 2014 National Conference and the APC El Rufai 2018 True Federalism Committee.
He said the group did this in association with the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF).
“We did this when politicians, in spite of the monumental crises confronting the nation, carried on as if the attainment of power was all that mattered. The SMBLF unanimously proposed that the minimum condition for a peaceful transition from the disastrous eight years of Buhari’s government headed by a President of northern extraction was to have the next President from the South,” he said.
He added that the group’s position was also supported by all the southern governors, irrespective of their political parties, at a meeting held in Asaba, Delta State.
He said the nation could not continue to demand that the Igbo people remain in Nigeria, while at the same time continue to marginalise and exclude them from the power dynamics.
He maintained that Obi is the person that Afenifere has decided to support and back because he is the man they trust to restructure the country back to federalism on the assumption of office.
“We will not compromise this principle of justice, equity and inclusiveness because one of our own AsiwajuTinubu is a frontline candidate,” Adebanjo stated.
He condemned the PDP for sponsoring Atiku Abubakar, a Northerner, to succeed President Buhari, another northerner.