2023 Presidency: Afenifere Leader Pa Adebanjo Mobilises For Labour Party Presidential Candidate Peter Obi In South West

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Kemi Olaitan writes that the acting Leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, has refused to buckle on his support for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, as he was part of the recent rally of the party in Ibadan.

At different fora most especially while speaking on national television stations, the acting Leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, has refused to be unyielding in his support for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, an action which has polarized the foremost organization.

The 94 year old elder statesman indeed has been strikingly consistent on his conviction that come 2023 it should be the turn of the Igbo to produce the Nigerian president and it must be Obi that the organization should support for equity and justice.

This position which he maintained was taken by the leadership of the Yoruba group in collaboration with other groups across the country which has pitched him against some leaders who staged counter-endorsement of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at a parley held at the Akure residence of the former Leader of the organization, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, to political observers calls for concern and introspection on the part of the leaders.

However there may not be an end in sight to the imbroglio as Adebanjo penultimate Wednesday in Ibadan, Oyo State Capital, when the campaign train of the LP presidential candidate birthed in the political headquarters of Yoruba land in continuation of his nation-wide visit to the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), reiterated that there was no going back on the endorsement of Obi by the organization.

For political analysts the choice of Ibadan as the first point of call of the campaign train in the South West region by the standard flag bearer of the LabourParty, Mr. Peter Obi, could not but to send a message that the endorsement by Afenifere led by Adebanjo was for the Yorubaland. Thus the decision was not misplaced as the Afenifere leader did not only make an appearance at the event but he also justified why the group would not back down in its support for the former governor of Anambra state.

The Afenifere leader, Pa Adebanjo, in his ebullient self, while addressing the LP supporters who thronged the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, venue of the rally briefly, briefly in Yoruba, said his support for Obi is in the true spirit of equity, justice and fairness, adding that he bears no grudge against the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

He disclosed that since Nigeria got its independence in 1960, South East has not produced the nation’s leadership while other regions had produced it one or two times, stating that the critics of his support for the presidential candidate from the South Eastern part of Nigeria are not students of history.

His words, “To those saying this one is Igbo, that one is Yoruba, the talk of president in Nigeria is not a talk of the Igbo or Yoruba but the talk of entire Nigeria.

“The South-West has produced a President and currently sits as Vice President; the South-South has spent a total of six years in the Presidency, but the Igbo people of the South-East have never tasted presidency in Nigeria, and now that the power is due back in the South, equity demands that it be ceded to the Igbo.

“We cannot continue to demand that the Igbo people remain in Nigeria while we, at the same time, continue to brutally marginalise and exclude them from the power dynamics. Peter Obi is the person of Igbo extraction that Afenifere has decided to support and back; he is the man we trust to restructure the country back to federalism on assumption of office.

“We will not compromise this principle of justice, equity and inclusiveness because one of our own, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is a frontline candidate. It is on this same principle we condemn the Peoples Democratic Party for sponsoring Atiku Abubakar, a Northern Fulani Muslim to succeed General Muhammadu Buhari another Fulani Muslim.

“Now that Afenifere is saying that the baton of leadership must be handed over to the candidate from the South East, and people are now calling me names. They submitted that my decision is borne out of the hatred that I have for Tinubu. The question is, where are this set of critics when I stood solidly behind Tinubu during his challenges? Where are they when I supported his first and second-term ambitions to govern Lagos state. Now that I am calling for equity and fairness, I have become his sworn enemy. They say that I am envious of his achievements

“Nigeria’s presidency is neither about Igbo nor Yoruba. The legacy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo must be upheld. Awo detested the marginalisation of any tribe by any tribe.

Chief Awolowo was an advocate of true federalism. This is what he fought for alongside the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello.

“Rotational presidency is non-negotiable.”

In his speech, Obi lauded Pa Adebanjo for his stand, stating that his likes of Pa Adebanjo are trying to build a new Nigeria through fairness, justice and equity which are the foundation a united country can be built.

He said, “The Labour Party is laying the foundation for a new Nigeria that the citizen will be proud of. We will ensure that we move Nigeria from consumption to production. We will create jobs for youths. Out youths are energetic and always ready to work.

“We will fight corruption. We will create wealth. We are not going to share our commonwealth. Nigeria, today has become a laughing stock.

New Nigeria will not be built on religion, ethnicity. We will ensure that end comes to incessant strikes by members of the Academic Staff Unions of Universities (ASUU).

“We will return Lagos to the financial centre of Africa while the lost glory of the ancient city of Ibadan will be returned.”

With the presidential election less than 100 days away, some political observers are of the view that with Pa Adebanjo not caring the consequence of his position on the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization of which he is the acting leader, it may eventually spell doom for the group.

To the observers, while the group is composed of prominent Yoruba sons and daughters, it is only Adebanjo that has been in the fore front of supporting Obi, windering how far he can go in convincing the people of the South West to jettison one of their own and support another person who is not of their tribe all in the name of equity and justice.

For political pundits, as the acting leader of the foremost Yoruba group, it is important for Pa Adebanjo needs to thread with caution for history to be kind to him after the 2023 elections and not allow the group suffer a permanent demise under his leadership.

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By Abia ThinkTank

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