Leader of Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo has revealed why the pan-Yoruba socio-political group is supporting the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi.
It would be recalled that the Afenifere leader had earlier stated that the group would be supporting Peter Obi in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election.
He stated on behalf of the group in an online radio programme, ‘Yoruba Gbode’, he was reported to have 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 latest development, Pa Adebanjo reiterated the decision of the group to support Peter Obi’s bid for the presidency.
According to The PUNCH, Adebanjo in a statement titled “Why Afenifere Supports South East Presidential Candidate for 2023 Presidency” which was available to the public, he stated that the South East deserves a shot at the presidency.
Also while reacting 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 clarified that the presidency is not a race-based contest between the Yoruba and the Igbo, adding that Afenifere is a Yoruba interpretation of the social welfareist ideology of the Action Group, a political party established in 1951 by Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his associates, which promoted federalism as the best form of government to allow the federating units the autonomy to flourish and, ultimately, for peace to exist in the nation.
Adebanjo went on to say that the group was helping to make Nigeria into a federation where no one or ethnic group would be left out or mistreated.
“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 did, however, ask for the Igbo people of the South-East to be given the presidency since power had moved back to the South.
“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.