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The leader of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, has reiterated why the group will continue to support the Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, among other candidates in the forthcoming 2023 General Election.
The Afenifere chieftain had earlier declared support of the group for the LP presidential candidate in an online radio programme, ‘Yoruba Gbode’, where he said, “Peter Obi can rule independently without the influence of those criminals in the government, stressing, “Tinubu will only give continuity to Buhari’s incompetence.”
In a statement made available to The PUNCH on Monday, September 26, 2022, titled, “Why Afenifere Supports South East Presidential Candidate for 2023 Presidency” in response to the spokesperson for the All Progressives Presidential Campaign Council, Mr Bayo Onanuga’s Facebook post accusing him (Adebanjo) of speaking for himself and not the group, Adebanjo said, “Before the political parties conducted their primaries, a journalist asked, what is my view about the 2023 general election? I answered and said the country should be restructured before the general election, 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.
“After the primaries and the candidates emerged with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu from the South-West, APC; Atiku Abubakar on the platform of the PDP and Peter Obi on the platform of Labour Party and I announced Afenifere’s support for Peter Obi, not a few Yoruba leaders question why I should be supporting Peter Obi, a candidate of the Igbo extraction against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a Yoruba.”
Adebanjo explained that the presidency is not a contest between the Yoruba and the Igbo, adding that Afenifere is a Yoruba interpretation of the social welfarist ideology of the then Action Group, a political party founded by Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his colleagues in 1951 which advocated federalism as the best form of government to enable the federating units the autonomy to thrive and for peace to ultimately dwell in the country.
Continuing, Adebanjo asserted that the group was contributing to shaping Nigeria into a federation where no person or ethnic nationality would be sidelined or oppressed.
“In the countdown to the 2023 General Election, long before the parties conducted their Conventions to elect their National Executives and candidates, we had insisted and still advocate restructuring before the elections proposing a synthesis of the identical Resolutions of the 2014 National Conference and the APC El-Rufai 2018 True Federalism Committee.
“We did this as Afenifere and on the wider spectrum of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum.
“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.”
The nonagenarian maintained that the quest for peace based on equity and inclusiveness had resulted in Yoruba taking the first turn of zoning arrangement in 1999 that brought in former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the North taking a turn, rotating back to Yoruba being the Vice President under a President from the northwest axis while the South-East is marginalised.
He, however, appealed for presidential power to be ceded to the Igbo people of the South-East since power has rotated back to the South for equity.
“Peter Obi is the person of Igbo extraction that Afenifere has decided to support and back. He is the man we trust to restructure the country back to federalism on the assumption of office.
“To keep Nigeria one, everyone should be Obi-Datti compliant,” he added.