The Pa Reuben Fasoranti led Afenifere, a Yoruba sociocultural group, on Sunday, endorsed Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), a move the suggests that cracks is emerging in the organization.
Fasoranti’s endorsement comes after Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, had endorsed the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi.
Pa Adebanjo, who took over as the leader of the Afenifere in March 2021 after Mr Fasoranti, 96, stepped down from the leadership of the pan-Yoruba group during a meeting held at his residence, had consistently expressed his disavowal to Mr Tinubu’s presidential bid.
Adebanjo had, while explaining why he is supporting Obi for the presidency, said it is based on the principle of equity and federal character as enshrined in the constitution.
“The Southwest, as I have pointed out, 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.”
Meanwhile, Tinubu, who visited Pa Fasoranti and other leaders in Akure, Ondo State, presented the 80-page Action Plan document on how he intended to tackle the economy and other problems confronting the country.
Speaking during the visit, Fasoranti said Tinubu had earlier asked for his blessings in April, but noted that he informed him to first get the party’s ticket before coming for his blessings.
The Afenifere leader said: “I am happy that you’re here after getting your party’s presidential ticket.”
The elder statesman, thereafter, prayed that the APC candidate would win the election and that he would be alive to witness his inauguration in May 2023.
Other Afenifere leaders, including the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olu Falae and former Secretary-General of the group, Basorun Sehinde Arogbofa, joined Pa Fasoranti to pray for Tinubu’s victory at the polls next year.
Speaking later during a reception for the candidate, Pa Fasoranti described Tinubu as not only a Yoruba man but also a complete Nigerian.
Speaking through a former scribe of the group, Arogbofa, Fasoranti said: “You are not just a Yoruba man but a Nigerian. When you become President, consider Nigeria in all you do but never forget home. Our demands are what you know already.
“They are restructuring, security and fixing the economy. Our country is no longer safe. We want state police so that the country will be safe.
“We are in no doubt that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as President of Nigeria, offers the best opportunity to produce a government that will usher in an era of hope, peace, security, harmony, gainful employment for the multitude, economic development, social and political stability.
“Don’t let us have any regret supporting you when you get there.”
Also speaking, a former SGF, Olu Falae, charged Tinubu “to work to fix the economy.”
Falae said: “When you become President, please work to fix this country. We are here to offer advice. I am old and no longer looking for a job. We need to fix security, and fix our economy.
“Our naira is almost becoming useless and will soon become N1000 to a dollar.
“We must change that. I know your ability. We will always be here to support and I wish you well. We will be here when you bring the trophy home by the grace of God.”
In his response, Tinubu who didn’t respond to the group’s call for restructuring and state police spoke on the intrigues that characterised his emergence as the party’s candidate.
Tinubu said: “The North proved to me Nigeria can survive its unity. Some people want President Muhammadu Buhari to announce someone but the President said no.
“He insisted the process must go on democratically. The President said anyone that would mess up the APC process would see the other side of his eyes. He remained upright and saw the process to the end.
“Northern APC Governors resolved that the Presidency must go to the South and especially South West. Governors Nasir El-Rufai, Abdullahi Ganduje and others supported me to the end.
“The battle was tough and at a point, I was in doubt. There were many rumours and I became confused about what to believe.
“President Buhari told me I promoted his name with the way I won the primary election because the process was clean and transparent and nobody can accuse him of manipulating the process. President Buhari said I gave him credibility and I deserved to be President.
“When I asked him to nominate the VP candidate for me, he said I should pick whoever I want and it is the reason I chose a competent man in Kashim Shettima, who never lost any election and protected Christians in times of trouble in his state.”
However, when contacted, Afenifere leader, Adebanjo said he was not bothered about Tinubu meeting Fasoranti adding that the APC candidate will be ignoring his group at his peril.
“Tinubu is a citizen and he has a right to meet with anybody and Fasoranti is also a senior citizen. I am not worried about the meeting. Tinubu is not in a position to ignore me, he will be ignoring my group at his peril. I don’t want to be diverted; if he ignores my group, it is at his own risk, he said.
He accused Tinubu of bribing some members of the group to cause division within, ahead of the 2023 general election.
He insisted that Afenifere had already endorsed Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) for the next year’s election based on principle.
“Tinubu bribed some people with little money to put up a show that there’s a division in Afenifere. I won’t engage him and those he gave money to because we have already made our position clear that Peter Obi is our candidate. Peter Obi as president will serve our interest better than Tinubu,” Mr Adebanjo told The Gazette on Sunday in a telephone chat.
TRUELY! THE REAL Afenifere. AN ASSEMBLAGE OF REASON AND CONSTELLATION OF BRILLIANCE FORESIGHT WITH QAULITY LEADERSHIP.
Not the camp of SENILE LIAR NANOGEN. The HATEFUL bunch Ill Wishers otherwise known as Afenifebi.
THE PEOPLE THAT MATTER TO THE YORUBA COURSE FORTUNES AND DESTINY.
Ayo Adebanjo and his banditry of inconsequential goons are at liberty to continue on their moribund misadventure for shadow chase. They do not represent Yoruba.