Afenifere splits over Obi, Tinubu

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Peter Obi, Bola Tinubu, Afenifere

Afenifere splits over Obi, Tinubu

Leaders of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, are experiencing a disagreement over the political ambition of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Two Afenifere leaders, Pa Reuben Fasoranti and Chief Ayo Adebanjo are not in agreement regarding Tinubu’s ambition.

While Fasoranti appears to support Tinubu’s aspiration and prayed for his success on Sunday, Adebanjo is backing the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi.

In March 2021, 96-year-old Fasoranti stepped down as national leader of Afenifere, handing over to 93-year-old Ayo Adebanjo as the acting national leader.

In April 2021, Fasoranti had earlier endorsed Tinubu’s presidential bid when the South West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA 23), paid him a courtesy visit at his country home in Akure, Ondo State.

He had said: “Tinubu has all it takes to rule Nigeria. Considering his activities and track record, he deserves to be President, come 2023. May his prayers be answered. When he gets there, he will do all we want.”

However, Adebanjo quickly countered Fasoranti, saying his statement didn’t represent the general views of Afenifere.

On Sunday, Fasoranti and other Afenifere leaders prayed for Tinubu while Adebanjo and those loyal to him were absent, including the secretary-general of the association, Chief Sola Ebiseni.

Fasoranti’s support for Tinubu comes weeks after Adebanjo endorsed Obi. Explaining why he is supporting Obi for the presidency, Adebanjo said it is based on the principle of equity and federal character as enshrined in the nation’s constitution.

“The Southwest has produced a president and currently sits as VP; the South-South has spent a total of six years in the presidency, but the Igbo people of the Southeast have never tasted presidency in Nigeria, and now that the power is due back in the South, equity demands that it be ceded to the Igbo,” he had said.

“We cannot continue to demand that the Igbo people remain in Nigeria, while we at the same time continue to brutally marginalise and exclude them from the power dynamics.”

Speaking on why he visited Fasoranti on Sunday, Tinubu said he was in the Yoruba leader’s house to present his presidential action plan to him. Fasoranti urged the APC presidential flag-bearer to tackle insecurity and restructure the nation.

Speaking on behalf of the group, former Afenifere’s Secretary General, Bashorun Seinde Arogbofa, recounted that Tinubu came to seek support of the Yoruba leaders in April.

According to him, Pa Fasoranti asked Tinubu to come back for blessings after the APC primary, which he said they all watched with keen interest as Tinubu defeated all his co-aspirants.

Arogbofa reiterated on the importance of restructuring and insecurity to the development of the nation, saying those who once opposed restructuring of the country are now clamouring for it.

When contacted for comment whether Tinubu’s visit to Fasoranti is a sign of division within the group, Adebanjo said, “I am not in the best position to answer that question. Go and put it to the person that received Tinubu.”

He also said: “Pa Fasoranti did not say to Tinubu anything different from what we have been saying. I wouldn’t want the media to create what is not,” adding that any presidential candidate can visit anybody or group.

 

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