Wednesday, 7th June 2023

Afenifere Crisis: Arogbofa, Okunrounmu, others feign ignorance of reconciliation committee

By Seye Olumide, Southwest Bureau Chief
05 November 2022   |   5:58 am
Some members of the apex Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, have denied any knowledge of ongoing efforts to resolve the misunderstanding between Pa Ayo Adebanjo,...


Some members of the apex Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, have denied any knowledge of ongoing efforts to resolve the misunderstanding between Pa Ayo Adebanjo, who is the acting leader of the group and his immediate predecessor, Pa Reuben Fasoranti.

The two nonagenarians have had misunderstanding over the endorsement of presidential candidates for the 2023 general election. While Pa Adebanjo had endorsed Mr. Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP) on behalf of Afenifere, Pa Fasoranti during a well-attended meeting of prominent Yoruba leaders at his Akure residence in Ondo State, recently, endorsed the presidential flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu.
Following Tinubu’s visit to Ondo, there were allegations that Fasoranti, who had earlier stepped aside as leader over two years ago, has now resumed his leadership role.

But in a reaction to the development, Adebanjo said he remained the leader of the group, just as he said his predecessor had no right to such after he had written a letter to step aside.
The media quickly feasted on the development wherein Fasoranti was quoted as saying that all meetings of Afenifere should henceforth hold in Akure. 
But in statement last Thursday, Fasoranti said he neither said he was taking over the leadership position from Adebanjo nor that meetings of Afenifere should henceforth move to his hometown, Akure.

Yesterday, there were media reports that a four-man committee, which includes former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SSG), Chief Olu Falae; former lawmaker that represented Ogun Central, Senator Femi Okunrounmu; Bashorun Sehinde Arogbofa and Chief Cornelius Adebayo, all elderly members of Afenifere, had been appointed to wade into the issue with the aim of resolving it.
However, when contacted, Okunrounmu, despite saying there was no issue to be resolved since Fasoranti has distanced himself from the purported story of returning as leader of Afenifere, said the organisation has a very solid and quick internal mechanism of checkmating ‘attempt’ to create crisis or division in Afenifere.
He said he was not aware of such reconciliation committee, adding: “Nobody contacted me. I just read the story in the papers this (yesterday) morning just as you are telling me. The fact is there is nothing to resolve.”
In a similar tone, Adebayo said he has not been contacted over the committee, saying he also read it on the pages of the newspaper.  He, however, commended the two nonagenarians for the way they demonstrated maturity that eventually doused the tension.
He noted that the 2023 general election would be crucial to Nigeria, Nigerians and Yoruba people, adding that the needful must be done to ensure security, stability, economic prosperity and social development, which are the concerns of the people.
When also contacted, Arogbofa said there was no crisis but a mere misunderstanding, which has been quickly addressed by the leaders concerned. 
Although he said he was also unaware of the reconciliation committee, the Secretary-General of Afenifere said what transpired between the two nonagenarians between last Sunday and now was like a storm in the tea cup.

“Afenifere had faced worst situation and it was managed. We have a way of resolving issues,” Arogbofa said.

Meanwhile, Secretary-General of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Chief Kunle Olajide, has pleaded with all stakeholders involved in the crisis to sheathe their swords in the larger interest of Yoruba nation.
He also pleaded with the members of Fourth Estate of the Realm not to escalate the issue further. Olajide said the altercation between Fasoranti and Adebanjo was unfortunate, stressing that the fact that the duo quickly retraced their steps was a welcome development.
When asked why the Afenifere and Tinubu differences have lingered over the years, Olajide said: “That is not the issue that is paramount to Yoruba or Nigeria for now. You are aware that nobody is talking about past crises, as it would not help in resolving anything. We need to watch carefully and pick the best among the presidential options available.”
Chief Olu Falae could not be reached on phone while severally calls to Adebanjo were neither picked nor returned.