Fasoranti makes U-turn, says Adebanjo remains Afenifere leader

Chief Ayo Adebanjo of Afenifere
By Seye Olumide, Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan) and Oluwaseun Akingboye (Akure)

Chief Ayo Adebanjo of Afenifere
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• Tinubu as president will not disappoint Nigerians – SWAGA

After days of chest-thumping, the patriarch of the Yoruba apex socio-political group, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, has declared that Chief Ayo Adebanjo remains the leader of the group.
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In a statement made available to journalists in Akure, yesterday, Personal Assistant to the patriarch, Adedapo Abiola, debunked as mere rumour reports that Adebanjo had been de-robed of his leadership position.

On Wednesday, reports had been rife that Adebanjo, who is the acting leader of the group, had been suspended as a fall-out of the endorsement of All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Sunday.

Recall that Tinubu was received by some Afenifere and Yoruba leaders at Fasoranti’s house in Akure, throwing their weight behind him ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Days after, the supposed endorsement had caused divisions within the group, as it is divided into the Labour Party (LP) faction, led by Adebanjo, who was conspicuously absent in the Akure meeting; and the Fasoranti-led faction rooting for Tinubu.
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But in a retraction of recent developments, Abiola said: “It has come to Papa R.F. Fasoranti’s knowledge that some sections of the media, especially the social media, have been ascribing to him false statements designed to cause confusion and polarise Afenifere. 

“I have Papa’s permission to say that he has not said that Chief Adebanjo is no longer the acting leader of Afenifere or that all future Afenifere meetings should henceforth be held at his residence in Akure.”

He explained that “Papa’s main concern is the interest of Yoruba in the complex political situation in Nigeria. It is also his concern that Afenifere should survive in dignity and remain a purveyor of the interest of the Yoruba race.”  

FOLLOWING yesterday’s position of Fasoranti that his successor, Adebanjo, remained the leader of Afenifere, the chairman of the Lagos branch of the group, Chief Supo Sonibare, told The Guardian that the issue between the two elders has been resolved.
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Sonibare said: “It was unfortunate that the media handlers of Tinubu deliberately created unfounded misunderstanding between the two nonagenarians for wherever intention they aimed to achieve.”
 
He also dismissed the allegation that Adebanjo unilaterally endorsed Obi. According to him, “I do not think it was right to intentionally demonise Pa Adebanjo. Majority of the people in the Afenifere executive endorsed Obi. The matter was taken to the General Assembly, where all state chairmen of the group were present and Obi was endorsed. The issue simply became aggravated due to politics and interest.”
 
Sonibare said he could not understand why the endorsement of Obi by Afenifere suddenly became a controversy leading to an altercation between the two leaders.

“This is not the first time the organisation would endorse a presidential candidate. There was a time it endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari, former President Goodluck Jonathan and even former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
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“The handlers of Tinubu media should understand that after politics and the 2023 general election, the Yoruba race would continue and posterity would judge whatever anyone does.”
 
He charged those promoting animosity between Adebanjo and Fasoranti to refrain, saying “they should stop using emotional blackmail to pit the elders against one another. Tinubu should tell his people to focus more on issues and how to sell their party to Nigeria, rather than trying to destroy Afenifere. If APC is a brand as they claim, why are they now trying to take on the brand of Afenifere. They should allow peace reign in Afenifere.”
 
In another reaction, Pa Akin Oke, immediate past state chairman of Oyo APC, who is also one of the followers of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, leader of defunct Action Group (AG), said it was good that peace is gradually returning to Afenifere with the position taken by Fasoranti.
 
He, however, expressed reservation over the manner Chief Adebanjo endorsed Obi.
 
He noted that the issue is a minor one but for the fact that some people felt Adebanjo and or Afenifere leaders cannot take such a crucial decision to support Obi on behalf of the entire Yoruba people without due consultation.

MEANWHILE, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State, yesterday, described as laughable and pathetic the reaction of the state chapter of APC to the purported endorsement of Tinubu by the governor, Seyi Makinde. The Oyo PDP said APC has further shown the world its pitiable condition as far as current political realities are concerned.
 
“By celebrating the purported endorsement, which amounts to a fluke, APC has shown itself as fickle-minded, whose thinking is far removed from state and national realities,” it said.
 
“The governor, who is not only leader of PDP in Oyo, but also the entire Southwest, did not at any fora endorse the candidature of Tinubu. For the sake of emphasis, Governor Makinde never endorsed Tinubu against his own party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

“What happened is that Senator Oloye Teslim Folarin and his hallucinating APC members tried to misrepresent the information by the deputy governor. This is the true state of things and we made bold to reiterate that Oyo State and PDP will not do anything politically that undermines the interest of the state and her people.
 
“We urge our people to ignore and discountenance the misinformation being peddled around by APC as false propaganda, which has been their hallmark since the creation of the party. Little wonder that the same APC government, which recently bestowed on ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, an award of excellence in public service, is the same party that rode to power on the strength of false propaganda, mischief and malicious campaign against the same man so honoured.”

THE Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has commended Fasoranti for endorsing Tinubu as his preferred presidential candidate. MURIC, in a statement by its director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, yesterday, said Fasoranti’s endorsement is capable of uniting the Yoruba people as Christians and Muslims will now rally behind the former Lagos governor.

“MURIC commends Pa Fasoranti for his sportsmanship and broadmindedness. His name will be engraved in letters of gold for ignoring the illogical, irrational and inexplicable choice of Pa Adebanjo, who declared support for Peter Obi,” MURIC’s statement read in part.

“The likely fallout of this development is a future payback by Yoruba Muslims who have shown the willingness to support a Christian candidate in future if their Christian counterparts vote for Tinubu, a Yoruba Muslim, in 2023.”

Also, Nigerians have been urged to have faith in Tinubu, saying he will not disappoint the country if he wins the election. The call was made by Senator Dayo Adeyeye, National Convener, South West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA) during the commissioning of the Osun State secretariat of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign in Osogbo yesterday.

Oyetunde Ojo, who represented Adeyeye, described the APC presidential candidate as a man bereft of religious bigotry and someone who ensures that things are done as and when due.

Ojo who revealed that SWAGA started from Osun, also added that Asiwaju will be president for all Nigerians, not Yoruba alone.

The Oluwo of Iwo, Oba AbdulRosheed Adewale Akanbi, in his remark warned against betrayal. Speaking on behalf of other monarchs present at the event, Oba Akanbi urged all eligible voters to vote en masse for Tinubu.

His words: “We must all vote for Asiwaju Tinubu because he is our son.”

Oba Akanbi also maintained that the move for Tinubu to be president in 2023 is greater than the quest of the late Awolowo, adding that Awolowo’s prayers must be answered.

“Awolowo’s prayers must come to pass through Tinubu. This is not about political parties but about Yoruba. All Yoruba must vote for Tinubu for others to vote for him. All Yoruba are for Asiwaju and he will act as a bridge builder and he is marketable,” he stated.
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