WOLE BALOGUN, Ado Ekiti
The national leader of Pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, Senator Ayo Fasanmi and an elder statesman and historian, Prof Banji Akintoye, have urged Yoruba to brace up for the presidency in 2023.
Speaking in Ado Ekiti at a colloquium marking the 110th posthumous birthday of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Afenifere leader said Yoruba people must unite to ensure that the geopolitical zone produces the next president.
The 94-year old Fasanmi who made a request that Yoruba should support a candidate who shares the visions of Awolowo, publicly endorsed Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi as a possible candidate for the 2023 presidency, citing his decision on the fact that “Fayemi embodies the visions that Awolowo strived to actualise for Nigerians.”
Delivering a paper titled ‘New Engagements by Progressives,’ Prof. Akintoye said Ekiti people could become leaders in the African continent by “investing in the knowledge economy using our education advantage.”
Akintoye who recalled the huge investment of Awolowo in education, stated that “the progressive idea is the only way to make the people prosper,” adding that Fayemi has the right ideas which are similar to Awo’s.
While stating that the 2023 presidency is not just about pushing for a Yoruba man, the professor of History said it was high time Ekiti people rose up and took the lead because Nigeria needs the values of hard work, excellence, and integrity which Ekiti people are known for.
Akintoye equally called on Governor Fayemi to rise to the task ahead, stressing that Ekiti people must not let themselves to “be intimidated by what exists” but push for “what is right.
“Decent people of Ekiti should take the lead and help reposition the nation. I want to say that in 2023, we Ekiti want to aspire for what we have never aspired for. We want to produce the next president of Nigeria. We know that it takes the Ekiti character to rebuild Nigeria. Kayode (Fayemi) has the right ideas. He knows what to do in the management of our affairs. We must have the tenacity to push for what we think is right. We should not let ourselves be intimidated by what exists,” he said.
While speaking on Nigerian political leadership, Akintoye described Awolowo as a very “influential leader with “constructive ideas about how to move Nigeria along the path of progress, success, prosperity and even power.” Akintoye said Awolowo’s progressive idea focused on a Nigeria that would be orderly, stable and offer increasing economic and social opportunities for all its citizens.
“The economic and social details of progressivism are also well known. They include programmes such as free primary and secondary education for all, high quality medical service, free medical service to weaker categories of citizens, gainful employment for all, job skills programmes to qualify every person for employment, good quality transportation, communication, water supply, and electricity supply, integrated rural development to take the benefits of modern life and modern resources to farming and to rural communities,” he said.
In his remarks, Governor Fayemi said it was high time Nigerians raised the standard of development above that which was laid by Awolowo, adding that the former premier had been the yardstick for measuring the political success of political leaders in decades.
The governor said it was pathetic that the nation is endowed with human and natural resources but has not been able to take the lead in the past years, adding that it was time to do away with “arrested development.”
Fayemi, who also charged Ekiti leaders to rise up to the task ahead, stated that Ekiti should not play the second fiddle in the affairs of progressives in Nigeria.
“We have competence; we have human resources and everything that can help us survive as a nation. That was what Chief Awolowo represents today in Nigeria; we have not seen any statesman like Awolowo. That’s why any little thing we do, we make reference to him. He is the standard by which we judge development. It is time that we raised the standard now. We carry the burden of the successor generation and we must deliver to our people.
“This is the time to make concrete improvement in the lives of our people to banish poverty from our people. For long, we have not fought for what belongs to us because we are reticent, we don’t want to project ourselves, because we don’t want to be called noisemakers. Sometimes purposeful noise is strategic communication. Awo was not just a politician, he was a public intellectual. We must not forget this if we want a developmental democracy, the elite should drive and support programmes that aim at lifting the masses because that’s what Awo stood for. He was always on the side of the people. That is the duty we owe our people,” Fayemi said.