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OhaNifere’s birth splits Yoruba leaders 

By Seye Olumide Southwest Bureau Chief)
25 September 2022   |   4:45 am
Some prominent Yoruba leaders yesterday disagreed with the leader of Southwest socio-political group, Afenifere for initiating an alliance with the apex body of Southeast socio-cultural group..

Chief Ayo Adebanjo of Afenifere

Some prominent Yoruba leaders yesterday disagreed with the leader of Southwest socio-political group, Afenifere for initiating an alliance with the apex body of Southeast socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze to form OhaNifere, which aims to drive the 2023 ambition of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi.

 
While some Yoruba personalities dismissed the initiative as personal drive of Pa Adebanjo, which according to them, does not represent what the larger Southwest people want, at least in the present context of Nigeria, others simply laughed it of, saying, it was part of the highhandedness attitude of Pa Adebanjo and some few others with Afenifere, which has nearly depleted the organisation and rendered it meaningless to hundreds of Yoruba citizens.
 
But Yoruba Ronu, took a different position on the matter, saying Pa Adebanjo and those who initiated the move, were simply driving for justice, equity and fairness in the Nigerian context by wanting to ensure that the Southeast that is yet to produce a president, did so in the person of Mr Obi in 2023.
   
One of the factors that triggered reaction of some Afenifere members against the initiative as learnt by The Guardian was that the Southeast, as a body has never come as a group to seek the support of Afenifere to extend the hands of fellowship to the Yoruba requesting their backing for Obi or any other Ibo presidential candidate of other political platforms.
 
The aggrieved considered what Pa Adebanjo and few others are doing as not being in the best interest of the Southwest, particularly to a section of the country that has never been appreciative of the Yoruba race or show the Southwest mutual respect for all that an average Ibo man or group had benefited on the soil of Yoruba people.
 
Reacting to the development, Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr. Kunle Olajide, said, “The information comes to me as a surprise. I am not aware of it but I will take my time to investigate to find out if it is true that Afenifere is going into such an agreement to form OhaNifere to drive the Obi’s presidential ambition.”
 
In another reaction, Chairman, Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Mr. Wale Oshun, laughed it off and said, “What is the meaning of OhaNifere? 
He said, “The ethos of Yoruba is totally different to that of Ibo people and that the fear is if something like that must happen it has to be an all encompassing thing. As far as there is freedom of association, they can go ahead. The Yoruba people know where they belong.”
 
To the University of Lagos don and Professor of Sociology,  Lai Olurode, the new group “seems premature for any rigorous assessment, but it doesn’t seem to have bright prospects of an enduring relationship  because of glaring contradictions at the cultural, class and ideological levels . 
 
“An average Yoruba is ready to disown one of her own on ground of principle and equity but no other group can display such a rare courage in Nigeria. Most other national groups would deploy unconditional support on grounds of group solidarity. Notions of justice or fair play also vary from group to group, but it isn’t elastic among people of Southwest.”
 
President Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, Akin Malaolu, on his part saw nothing wrong in OhaNifere and or the move to support Obi’s presidential ambition.
 
According to him, “What Pa Adebanjo and few members of Afenifere were driving at is to ensure that the Ibo’s are treated fairly and justly in the Nigerian context. The Southeast too has the right to produce a president. I disagreed with those condemning the move, if they go into the election and fail, leave them and let them lick their wounds. I disagree with whoever is trying to shut Adebanjo up not to talk or express his views.”

However, the Director, Media and Publicity, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Mr Bayo Onanuga in a reaction, said,  Pa Adebanjo does not speak for Afenifere. 

 
In a statement, Onanauga said Pa Adebanjo is free as an individual to support anyone he likes,  in furtherance of his democratic right. 
 
The statement reads: “We know for a fact that Baba has turned Afenifere into his personal estate as acting leader. We are also certain that there was nowhere Afenifere, as we know it, met and took a decision to adopt Mr. Peter Obi as a candidate for the 2023 presidential election. 
 
“We respect the age of Baba Adebanjo but he can not turn Afenifere into his personal franchise for any political alliance. 
 
“We are very much aware that Baba Reuben Fasoranti, the real leader of Afenifere, has stated clearly that Pa Adebanjo has always been speaking for himself on many national issues using the name of the group. 
 
“It is our well considered position that Pa Adebanjo cannot appropriate Afenifere. Baba is just an individual who is free to support any politician of his choice. As an individual, he  cannot equate himself with the socio-cultural and socio-political organisation.”
 
It was learnt that the national executive committee of Afenifere last Tuesday resolved that the platform, OhaNifere, be established to promote a cordial political and socio-cultural relationship between Yoruba and Igbo brothers to stem the deliberate effort of some who may wish to promote division and insurrection to achieve their selfish ends.

It was said that the Deputy Leader of Afenifere, Oba Oladipo Olaitan conveyed the message of Pa Ayo Adebanjo, given approval of the socio-cultural group to compose the new platform, just as the Deputy President General of Ohaneze, Ambassador Okey Emuchay, conveyed the approval of the platform by their leader to Afenifere. He confirmed that the list of the eminent members for the platform has the approval of both the leadership of the Ohaneze in harmony with the authority of the President General, Professor George Obiozor.

“It is a suggestion that as we move forward, four admins each be chosen from both sides to regulate the activities of the group. Nominations shall therefore come from both sides. Also, as part of the ground rules, our discussions on the OhaNifere platform must be skewed to promote unity, integrity, and finding solutions to issues confronting our Yorùbá and Igbo peoples, going forward, especially as we promote The Peter Obi candidacy, toward the 2023 Elections, carrying the youths on both sides along.

“The purpose of the establishment of this much needed, long awaited partnering as enumerated above, should be long lasting, eternal as our people for generations to come, only have us at the moment to shape their future for the good of humanity, dignity and happiness.”

It was gathered that those who attended the meeting from the Ohanaeze group were Chief Gary Igariwey, Chief Nnia Nwodo, Sen Chris Anyanwu, Hon Eziuche Ubani, Dr Okey Ikechukwu, Dr Okey Anueyiagu, Amb Ozo Nwobu, Amb Humphrey Orjiako, Bar (Mrs) Nwabueze Jaja Wachuku – Nwokolo, Nze Fidelis Ozichukwu, Hon Emeka Ogwu, Mr Ireke Kalu Onuma, Dr Katch Ononuju, Elder Dr Nnanna Egwu, Prof Charles Nwakeaku, and Pastor Joe Attuenyi.

The Afenifere delegates included Kábíèsí Ọba Oladipo Olaitan—the Deputy Leader, Chief Supo Sonibare, Dr. Ebun Sonaiya, Pastor Adebayo Adenekan, Mr. Tola Mobolurin, Dr. David Oluwayomi Atte, Dr. Akin Fapohunda, Balógun Akin Osuntokun, Basorun Segun Sanni, Barrister Dele Farotimi, and Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo.

MEANWHILE, following the release of the list of All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) for the 2023 elections, most warring factions within the Southwest zone seem to have buried their differences and agreed to work for the success of Tinubu’s presidential ambition. Calls across the Southwest geo-political zone of the party, yesterday, indicated this development as all factions expressed readiness to work as a team.

In Ogun State, a strong member of the Governor Dapo Abiodun administration, who didn’t want his name mentioned said reactions and phones-in to the governor’s line since the list was released had shown that people are not only pleased to contribute their utmost to the success of the party and that of Tinubu’s, “no emphasis was made about whose name appeared or not on the list. Even the vice president’s name, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, that was conspicuously missing on the list was never a cause for alarm.”
 
Also reacting to the list, Southwest Zonal Organising Secretary of the party, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba described the list as encompassing across the zone and especially the choice of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu as the coordinator of the zone.  He also discarded the sentiment being raised on social media regarding the names of Osinbajo and former Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode among others that are missing on the list. Ibirogba said Akeredolu and the incumbent Chairman of Southwest APC, Mr. Isaac Kekemeke are going to effectively drive the campaign across Yoruba land and particularly in Ondo, to ensure Tinubu’s victory. “The list has doused all tensions and we are good to go for victory in 2023.”
 
In a similar vein, former Chairman, Southwest APC Zonal Executive, Pastor Bankole Oluwajana  commended the composition of the list but was quick to dismiss the sentiment concerning the absence of vice president’s name and others on the list.
 
According to Oluwajana, “The arguments that Osinbajo recused himself because of the Muslim-Muslim factor was insignificant that sentiment was a farce. Anybody that is a member of APC is as good as his name appearing on the list.”
 
Also describing the list as encompassing, APC governorship candidate in Oyo, Senator Teslim Folarin told The Guardian, yesterday, many of the Oyo APC stakeholders having had the foreknowledge of what the list entailed had agreed to work in unity.
 
Speaking through his aide, Yekini Olaniyi, the candidate said one good thing about the list was that it united the warring Oyo chapter “as everybody, especially member of the aggrieved Unity Forum, are now 100 per cent with Folarin, who by virtue of the party’s constitution is the leader of Oyo Presidential Campaign Committee.”
 
The name of Minister Interior and former Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has also facilitated a kind of reconciliation between the Minister and his successor, Governor Gboyega Oyetola and the party’s National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore. Recall that trio had been at loggerheads since 2018 when the incumbent emerged and the infighting cost the party a disgraceful defeat in the July 16 2022 gubernatorial election to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
 
Speaking on what the list had facilitated since it was released, a chieftain of the party in Osun State, Lade Baderinwa said: “This is what we have been saying. I am glad the leadership of our party at the national level must have realised the reason certain steps must be taken. Governor Oyetola, by virtue of his position, is the leader of Osun Council but  he will now have to work with the minister for the success of the party and Tinubu whereas Aregbesola himself must have to accommodate Omisore and former Governor, Baba Bisi Akande will deplore his elderly wisdom to manage the situation.”

 
It is going to be a win-win game for all of us in Osun if Tinubu wins. We cannot afford to lose the state to PDP and still go down in the presidential election.”
 
In Lagos State, spokesman of the party, Seye Oladejo and a member of the party’s Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), Bashorun Olorunfunmi, said the list was encompassing and that it would guarantee Tinubu’s victory at the presidential poll next year.
 
According to Olorunfunmi, “It was an encompassing list of names across the geopolitical zones in the country. Well thought out and drafted to show unity, respect for geopolitical politics and details well assigned. It reflects an indication of the acute sense of belonging, respect and mutual interaction Asiwaju Tinubu will offer Nigeria if elected as the president next year.”

Also in Ekiti State, immediate past Publicity Secretary Southwest Zone, Dapo Karounwi also described the list as excellent.

He said the only thing faulty in it was the absence of the vice president name and others, which the party said was done at the discretion of Mr. President, who insisted that Osinbajo should be allowed to concentrate on governance.