By Lukman Olabiyi
Acting leader of pan- Yoruba socio- political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has given reason the group opted to support candidature of Mr. Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP), for president in 2023.
According to Adebanjo, the group’s decision was in line with ideological and equitable principles Afenifere was known for as well as the social welfarist ideology of the defunct Action Group (AG) founded by the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
He revealed this yesterday, at a World Press Conference, which took place at WheatBaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, adding that Afenifere’s decision truly aligned with the defunct AG position which upheld strong advocacy for federalism as the best form of government to give the federating cubits the requisite to thrive and peacefully compete among themselves for the ultimate development of the country.
The elder statesman stated that backing Obi, who hails from South East, as next president of Nigeria is its modest contribution in shaping Nigeria into federation where no person or ethnic nationality is oppressed, recalling that the group had insisted and still advocated restructuring, countdown to the 2023 General Elections, and long before the parties conducted their conventions to pick their officers and candidates.
Adebanjo argued that it was based on quest for peace, equity and inclusiveness that a Yoruba and Southerner in person of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo took the first turn at the zoning arrangement in 1999, becoming the president, saying that the sitting president, Muhammadu Buhari is a Fulani from North-West “and by virtue of the zoning arrangement that has governed Nigeria since 1999, power is supposed to return to the South imminently.”
“The South-West as I have pointed out has produced a president and currently sits as VP, the South-South has spent a total of 6years in the presidency, but the Igbo people of South-East have never tasted presidency in Nigeria, and now that the poet 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 marginalize and exclude them from the power dynamic.
“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 the assumption of office.
“We will not compromise this principle of justice, equity and inclusiveness because one of our own, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is a front line candidate,” Chief Adebanjo.
Speaking further, Adebanjo condemned the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for sponsoring Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a northern Fulani Muslim to succeed President Buhari, describing the move as high degree of political insensitivity.
“The principle of federal character enshrined in the constitution dictates that the government of the federation or any part thereof shall not be concentrated in any ethnic group or a combination of such groups.
“It is, therefore, preposterous to adopt this principle for employment in public service, admissions in educational institutions, political appointments, the composition of the executive committee of a political party only to jettison it in the most important question of rulership of the federation,” he said.
The elder statesman said members of the socio- political group, Afenifere, led by him was not alien to sacrificing personal interests in the quest for a national coalition to put Nigeria on the proper pedestal, and, therefore, called on “labour movement, students, youth organisations, women associations and every institutions whose foundation is built on fairness and justice to join hands in this task of enthroning a democratic government by supporting Peter Obi.”
This was just as Chief Adebanjo proclaimed that ahead of 2023 General Election, the slogan henceforth should be: “To keep Nigeria one, everyone should be Obi/Datti compliant.”
According to him, this should be so if every Nigerian is sincere and honest about keeping the country together in peace, saying it was too late, for him, in the twilight of his sojourn on earth at 94, to be derailed on the track of true federalism and national inclusiveness on which he had traveled for over 70 years as one of the few surviving initial prophets.
“For me, in the twilight of my sojourn on earth at 94, it is too late to derail me on the track of true federalism and national inclusiveness on which I have traveled for over 70 years of my life as one of the surviving initial prophets, I prefer to ascend on a chariot of fire, fuelled by justice and equity,” Chief Adebanjo concluded.