By Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
The campaign of All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu received a boost Thursday with over 120 groups pledging their support for his victory at the 2023 general elections.
The groups, which declared their support for Tinubu’s aspiration, were mostly based in South West, comprising different civil society and pro-democracy organisations, among others.
The groups include faction of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC new era and OPC reformed), South West Hunters Union, (SWHU), Agbekoya Solidarity, South West Vigilante Coalition (SWVC), South West Progressives Movement (SWPM), Yoruba Farmers Cooperative (YFC), South West Progressives Youths and People s Movement (SWPYPM), Nigerian Automobile Technicians Association (NATA), South West Professional Forum, among others
The endorsement of APC presidential candidate by the groups under the umbrella of Alliance for Yoruba Democratic Movements (AYDM) was made public in a hall within St. Leo Catholic Church, Ikeja, Lagos.
Reading the resolution of the coalition, the leader of SWPM, Ajayi Taiwo said: “For the past three months, the AYDM has held a string of consultations with organized groups, socio-cultural and community based groups spread across the South West areas, from lowland to highland, valleys, seashores, mountains, tropical and savannah where our people; rich and poor, the wretched have reside.
“On Wednesday, October 5, leaders of 121 groups capped the consultations with a meeting which took several hours. We have come out with a resolution which is fanatically binding on all members of the alliance and we make bold to proclaim this the Lagos 2023 declaration to be pursued with all our strength, with our feet, our toiling hands and with all endowed powers the creator of heaven and earth bestowed on us.
“The age-long political philosophy of the Yoruba people is to provide the pathway for their leaders. Our people have, since 1999, consistently voted for a particular liberal democratic trend from Lagos, through Ilorin, Kabba, Edo to Warri, the political expression has been a definition of ancestral territory. At present, the most popular political party in the South West, which the people have chosen by themselves, within the content of the limited options, is APC. There is no doubt that the APC which has been in power in Lagos State since 1999, has done its best not to disappoint the local and international community. Lagos has become the reference point in the progressive economic landscape.
“The same successes have been recorded in the APC-controlled states of Ekiti, Ondo and others where the APC had ruled. It is on this basis, that we, representatives of 121 pan Yoruba, civil society, and community-based groups in the South West hereby adopt Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu for the 2023 presidential election.”
In justifying the support for Tinubu’s aspiration, the spokesperson for the coalition said out of the 12 presidents and Heads of State the country had so far, only one has been Yoruba , two were of Igbo extraction, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi while others were northerners.
Ajayi said they are ready to campaign vigorously, with all their strength, sweat, brain and even brawl, through the streets, on the road , in the farms, on the sea shores , in the valleys, on the mountains and land.
The coalition also announced the appointment of 150, 000 campaign volunteers who will work till March next year.
According to Ajayi, the mandate of the campaign volunteers is to canvass for Tinubu’s victory at the poll, by ensuring a 90 per cent turnout of voters in South West; to protect the mandate and ensure the votes are not stolen and also to defend the mandate in post-election months and years.
“Besides, we are also cautioning and warning those who wish to demonise Yorubaland to remember that we are guided by the principle of proportional response. Those who despise us shall be slightly esteemed while those who live on our land, respect our values, have respect for Yoruba people have nothing nothing to fear but will receive our double honour.”