Factional leader of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba group, which has made known its support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid, Akin Fasae, has said that their support for the President is a matter of principle and a way to repay him for his admirable performance in office.
Fasae in this interview conducted by WOLE BALOGUN in Ado Ekiti denied allegation by the mainstream Afenifere group that they are puppets of APC national leader. He gave reasons why they chose to support APC as a party and Buhari as its presidential candidate and expressed optimism that Buhari will win the February 2019 polls.
How do you react to the allegation from the Senator Femi Okurounmu faction of Afenifere that your support for Buhari is a script prepared for you by Tinubu to act?
Everyone has an opinion, and that is the opinion of those who believe that they have the mandate of the Yoruba, but let me tell you; how do you have the mandate of the people in a democracy? It is through the elected officials. Ask the Okurounmu people from Lagos to Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Oyo who are their elected people in all facets of the political divides. Do they have councilors, house of reps members or governor in the whole of southwest or Yoruba? My answer to that is No. So, they are representing themselves.
The Tinubu they are accusing is not only a national leader of APC but of all Yoruba. The Afenifere that we know has been a progressive movement from the days of Obafemi Awolowo, we know in history that Afenifere has always toed the path of the progressives, therefore the APC in the South West is a representation of the progressives, so in Afenifere, we don’t have any option than to support the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari, they only envy Tinubu. What they have against the APC leader is not a matter of principle, they only envy Tinubu because he is younger than them but he has emerged as a leader of the Yoruba.
The Okurounmu that we know won election under AD in 1999 and he defected to the PDP, but since then he hasn’t won any election. They belong to the group of lazy politicians in the Southwest.
They are at war with Omisore because he supported APC and now they are supporting Atiku, do you think Awolowo in his grave will be happy with them? Anyway, the likes of Okurounmu and Ayo Adebanjo have a right to their opinion and I wish them good luck.
They have also alleged that the only time your faction comes out to take a position on a national issue is when Tinubu motivates you and it has always been about politics as you allegedly prefer to keep mum on other issues such as the kidnap of Chief Olu Falae?
We have right to choose when we talk. However none of us is happy that anybody is being kidnapped, we are not also happy that anybody’s property or farm is destroyed by whatever group of people, whether Fulani herdsmen or terrorists. But we do not have to make an issue out of it. If Falae was kidnapped and we didn’t know how it happened or what has happened, we didn’t have to say that it was Buhari that caused it.
When you want to criticise, you must first gauge the mood of the people.
When it happened we condemned it and we didn’t only condemn it in the Southwest, we condemned it in every part of the country. They blamed the Falae kidnap on Buhari government and we didn’t like that.
Why do you support President Buhari?
Any reasonable person or group of persons in the Southwest will support and not only in the Southwest, we want every Nigerian to support President Buhari. We want everyone from the East, Northwest and PDP. This is because Buhari has done very well. We know the difference between 1999 and now, we know the difference. We also know the difference between 2015 and now. We don’t have to tell lies as the facts are there. This is the best time for all Yoruba even from the time of Tafawa Balewa, this has been the best time for the Yoruba.
Look at what has been happening on Lagos-Ibadan expressway, see what has been happening to our railway between Lagos and Ibadan. And it is like that all over the Southwest and other parts of the country. Look at what is happening on Npower in the country. In Ekiti alone we have not less than 700,000 beneficiaries. Our support for Buhari is not because Tinubu wants us to support him, it is based on what the President has done for the country and for the Southwest.
How would you reply those who have said that President Buhari’s government has brought more poverty and suffering?
Those who say that Buhari government has brought poverty are not knowledgeable. The people will vote and you will see that Buhari will win.
What is your advice to Nigerians on the forthcoming polls?
I want to advise Nigerians that we should ensure that we shun violence and bitterness in the coming elections. As from March this year, when Buhari is re-elected, Nigeria will march to greatness.