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Afenifere crisis deepens over Tinubu’s win

By Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan) and Adewale Momoh (Akure)
12 March 2023   |   4:15 am
The last may not have been heard on the crisis rocking the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, over the outcome of the 2023 presidential election held on February 25, 2023.

Fasoranti Vs Adebanjo

The last may not have been heard on the crisis rocking the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, over the outcome of the 2023 presidential election held on February 25, 2023.

Following the claim by the acting leader of the mainstream Yoruba group, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, that no one should send congratulatory messages to the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, under the Afenifere umbrella, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, has insisted that he is still the leader.

Recall that Fasoranti, a few days ago, in an open letter addressed to the President-elect, congratulated Tinubu on his victory at the poll, assuring him of the group’s total support.

In less than 24 hours, in a communiqué issued after a special general meeting held at the Isanya-Ogbo, Ogun State country home of Adebanjo, the group stated that Peter Obi of the Labour Party won the presidential election and not Tinubu, as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

A statement signed by the immediate past Secretary-General of the group, Chief Seinde Arogbofa, disclosed that with Fasoranti still alive, “the octogenarian is the leader of the apex Yoruba group, and as such, his pronouncement on any issue remains final on behalf of Afenifere.”

However, while emphasising that no one could foist Obi on the group, Arogbofa said: “Afenifere is made up of people with sound intellects and strong convictions but occasional divergent views.”

The statement reads: “Chief Dr. R. F. Fasoranti is still alive. By the Afenifere tradition, he is still the leader of Afenifere. We defer to him in line with our cherished Yoruba culture. So whatever any other member says or does after he has spoken or acted is immaterial.

“You will recall that on September 3, 2022, in an interview, I said that some members were foisting Peter Obi as a presidential candidate on us, and that Afenifere members were not robots. They are made up of intelligent people with strong convictions but occasional divergent views.

“Notwithstanding that, they are bound together by the welfare philosophy of the association. On any contentious issue, they come together as democrats to discuss and agree on a consensus.

“While the consensus becomes their public stance, those who disagree are still allowed to keep their views without necessarily making them an opposition position to the majority decision.

“I concluded by saying, if elections will hold in 2023, many Afenifere members and, by extension, the right-thinking, accommodating, and unbiased Yoruba ethnic group, who are in the silent majority, will vote for Tinubu.”

Meanwhile, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) and a former Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines, Dr. Yemi Farounbi, yesterday, urged Afenifere to speak with one voice and protect the interest of the Yoruba and support the president-elect.

It would be recalled that some Afenifere leaders had said the election conducted by the electoral body, leading to Tinubu’s victory, was not credible. However, some other elders in Akure, yesterday, said they stood with Tinubu.

Reacting to this development, Dr. Farounbi said the original vision of Afenifere was to defend and project the interest of the Yoruba, while the YCE through its Secretary-General, Chief Oladipo Oyewole, called on Afenifere to support Tinubu, having been declared as winner, adding that: “Tinubu is a pride to all sons and daughters of the Yoruba and Nigeria generally.”

Farounbi said: ‘’For a very long time, we have always looked up to Afenifere as the coordinating centre for the Yoruba. Beginning from the time of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the body has always been protecting the interest of the Yoruba as paramount. It is unfortunate, therefore, that at this time, we begin to factionalise and speak at cross-purposes. Afenifere, being what it is, is to define, defend and project the Yoruba interest. I would like to appeal to all of them to remember that Afenifere remains the focal voice. When Senator Abraham Adesanya was elected, he was elected as the spokesperson for all the Yoruba…’’

The Secretary-General of YCE, Chief Oyewole said: “In the first instance, Tinubu’s victory is a victory for all of us in the South West and all of us in Nigeria. Some persons did not want him. But, once the result came out and the Certificate of Return issued, everything should have been laid to rest…”

“On March 3, 2023, Chief R.F. Fasoranti sent a very warm congratulatory letter, on our behalf and his own, to Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his hard-won victory in the February 25, 2023, presidential election.

“That was done in line with the well-known Afenifere practice. This is where Afenifere stands: The Oracle Has Acted and Spoken. Any person or group that may see things differently is free to do so as he is free to exercise his liberty.”