BusinessDay

2023: Why Afenifere is supporting Obi – Adebanjo

The leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Ayo Adebanjo, has clarified his position on the group’s support for the Labour Party’s candidate in the 2023 general election, Peter Obi.

The group explained why it would not support the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

In a statement signed by Adebanjo on Monday, September 26, 2022, the Afenifere leader said the group stood on justice and fairness and believed in true federalism and the Federal Character principle.

Responding to the backlash that followed his announcement of the group’s support for Peter Obi in the 2023 presidential election, Adebanjo said, “Not a few Yoruba leaders question why I should be supporting Peter Obi, a candidate of Igbo extraction, against Bola Tinubu, a Yoruba.

“I took my time to explain that the presidency is not a contest between the Yorubas and the Igbos and to a large extent I was able to convince many.

“But ever since, social media has been filled with comments tending to ethnicise the campaign instead of making it issue-based. Afenifere has, therefore, decided to address you today and through you educate the public on the ideological and equitable principles which have influenced our decision.”

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Adebanjo stated that Afenifere is the Yoruba interpretation of the social welfarist ideology of Action Group, a political party founded by 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.

He said other founding fathers of Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Obafemi Awolowo agreed to the system with the endorsement of colonial secretary Oliver Littleton in 1954 and embodied in the 1960 independence constitution.

This is the modest contribution of Afenifere in shaping Nigeria into a federation where no person or ethnic nationality is oppressed.”

The nonagenarian said Afenifere had always advocated and insisted on restructuring of the country long before the parties conducted their Conventions to elect their national executive and candidates.

Adebanjo said Afenifere and the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum 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.

Adebanjo said the position was supported by Southern governors irrespective of their political parties.

He added, “In this quest for peace, based on equity and inclusiveness, the Yoruba took the first turn at the zoning arrangement in 1999, and that led to the emergence of (Olusegun) Obasanjo, the current Vice President is a Yoruba man and equity forbids us for presuming to support another Yoruba person for the presidency in 2023.

“The current President is a Fulani from the North-West and by virtue of the zoning arrangement that has governed Nigeria since 1999, power is supposed to return to the south imminently.”

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