By Frank Oshanugor
Equity, justice, fairness, competence have been given as the reasons why Yoruba socio-political group, the Afenifere is strongly endorsing the candidacy of the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate in the 2023, Mr. Peter Obi who was a two-term Governor of Anambra State.
The revelation was made in a trending online television (PulseTv) interview by a Chieftain of the Afenifere; Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo.
In the interview that lasted for about six minutes, Adejumo said that given the structural imbalances that exist in the country, Afenifere had called for no election until the restructuring has taken place but given the current scenario where the nation is warming up for 2023 election, the group may unavoidably be part of it but with a condition that the presidency is given to the SouthEast zone of the country for equity, justice and fairness.
He contended that Afenifere’s position was informed by the fact that in this Fourth Republic, the Southwest had ruled for eight years with Olusegun Obasanjo as president. The North had ruled for eleven years under Musa Yar’Adua and Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency. While the South-South ruled with Goodluck Jonathan as President for five years, the SouthEast has been left out. It has not produced the nation’s president any day.
In the words of Adejumo who introduced himself as a chieftain and member of the national caucus of the group (which is the highest policy making arm of Afenifere) and also a member of the national executive of Organization, “only nine of us run the Afenifere as an organization. Make no mistake, Afenifere is a socio-political organisation that has since the past 71 years given birth to the Action Group in the First Republic, Unity Party of Nigeria in Second Republic and Alliance for Democracy in the Fourth Republic.
“We are very comfortable with our position which has come out of a whole lot of experience in Nigeria’s political matters which have come from a deep interrogation of the present political situation.”
He explained that Afenifere’s position on any national issue has always been informed by a deep knowledge and appreciation of the situation which “has always made us to stand on high moral ground” adding that “any where we stand is where the Yorubas, nay the whole of Nigeria have always come to meet us.”
According to him, “when we said that the Babangida transition was going no where in 1986, it was exactly so. Even before then, when General Yakubu Gowon tried to do the non-party election, Papa Obafemi Awolowo said he going no where and we all know what happened to that exercise just like it happened to Babangida’s fruitless transition. We all know about June 12 election.”
“Again, when we said that Muhammadu Buhari was not going to give Nigerians anything good in governance, we said exactly everything that was going to happen in Buhari’s administration. Today, we have been vindicated because it happened as we predicted.”
“So, Afenifere is not an amorphous group of all comers. It is a group tailored after the sage and scribe Papa Awolowo. In his wisdom and books he had written and lectures he had given to us, we had looked at the political situation and rejected the 1999 Constitution.
“We said again that there would be no election until the nation’s structure is changed. We were at the forefront of restructuring from pre-independence years precisely 1953 and we achieved it even with the Lyttleon Constitution of 1954, we carried on.
“We were the ones who made the 2014 National Conference to happen. That was why we supported President Jonathan. Today, look at what has happened to those who supported President Buhari. Now they are at it again, dressed in obscene garbs seeking election. These are people who brought Nigeria to its knees and divided us, made Nigeria ungovernable, brought Boko Haram and terror. It is the same people who are parading themselves as candidates for the 2023 election.
“In all of this, Afenifere said there would be no election but again if we say there must be election, then there must be equity. There must be high moral ground that there must be justice.”
In Adejumo’s words, “we have had eight years of Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba as President. We have eleven years of the North ruling with Musa Yar’Adua as President for three years and Muhammadu Buhari for eights as president. We have had five years of the South South with Goodluck Jonathan as President. In the South of Nigeria, it is only the SouthEast that has not had the presidency.
“Based on equity, justice and fairness, the presidency should go to the SouthEast if at all there will be election. That is Afenifere’s stand.
“But again, in examining and interrogating Peter Obi and having had the opportunity to deeply anticipate and bring to the fore, the issues that confront the country, namely the structure and knowing well enough that we cannot continue this way of wastage in governance by bad government, we believe that if there is election, the person among the presidential candidates who is most capable of putting Nigeria back on track is Peter Obi. We stand by this assertion.”