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Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has once again reiterated its earlier endorsement for the candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, in the forthcoming presidential election in 2023.
In their reaction to a statement which was credited to the Ondo State governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, that the ‘Afenifere doesn’t speak for the Yoruba people on the endorsement of Peter Obi and that Afenifere is divided in respect of the purported endorsement,’ the group said neither the Afenifere nor Akeredolu will speak for Yoruba people on the candidate to support.
This response was contained in a statement issued by the Secretary General of Afenifere, Chief Sola Ebiseni on Monday.
The association, in the statement which was made available to Africa Daily News, New York, asserted that its decision to support Obi was a corporate decision of members of the group and some socio-cultural organisations in the country.
The statement read in part, ‘The attention of Afenifere has been drawn to the statement credited to Akeredolu on the Afenifere’s endorsement of Obi for the 2023 presidential election.
‘To start with, we wish to reiterate the principled stance of the Afenifere that the next President of Nigeria should be from the South, and all things equitably considered, from the South-East, for which we consider Obi by his verifiable records as a two-term governor of Anambra State, the most competent and suitable. It is a well-considered corporate decision debated for over a year of regular monthly meetings, validly conveyed in the best tradition of the organisation.
‘While we have our respect for Akeredolu and his colleagues of the Southern Governors Forum, which he leads, on their stand that it is only equitable that the next President of Nigeria after eight years of Buhari of Northern Nigeria extraction, should come from the South, we will not lend our support to those who betray that cause for the lucre of vice presidential porridge or those who see equity only from the parochial prism of their ethnic benefits.
‘We wish to state for the umpteenth time that Afenifere is not an apolitical Yoruba socio-cultural organisation but, from its inception, political machinery as the embodiment of the worldview of the Awolowo School of Thought on how Nigeria, a country of ancient and entrenched nationalities, may best be equitably, inclusively and peacefully governed. These thoughts are encapsulated in the theory and practice of true federalism in its equitable and logical dimensions.
‘Finally, let it be said that Afenifere is not alone in this decision that the next President should be from the South and South-East specifically. Afenifere conveyed its resolution through a press conference on September 26, 2022, and the Middle Belt Forum which converged in the Jos Township Stadium on September 28. Other ethnic nationality organisations, particularly of the Southern and Middle Belt Forum, of which Afenifere is a member, and other well-meaning Nigerian leaders, are in agreement with this resolution which the nation needs most for an all-inclusive sense of belonging and attendant peaceful coexistence.’
Meanwhile, the candidate of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has waved off comments credited to Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, to the effect that the Yoruba socio-cultural body has adopted Peter Obi, candidate of the Labour Party, as its choice candidate for 2023.
Asiwaju Tinubu, writing through Bayo Onanuga, Director of Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, said Pa Adebayo cannot impose his personal preference and opinion on Afenifere.
Stressing that the elder statesman is free as an individual to support whosoever he wishes in a democratic dispensation, Tinubu said such position cannot be foisted on the people.