A faction of pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and political organization, Afenifere has broken away and endorsed the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the 2019 Presidential election.
The faction includes some Yoruba elders like Pa Ayo Fasanmi, included former governor of Oyo State, Dr Omololu Olunloyo, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, Dr Abayomi Finnih, Chief Adeleke Adewoyin, Prince Biodun Ogunleye, Chief Iyiola Oladokun, Pa Ayo Afolabi, Mr Oladosu Oladipo, Mr Muyiwa Ige, Prof. Adebanjo Ademodi, Mr Tokunbo Ajasin, Mr Awa Bamiji, Sen. Biyi Durojaiye, Dr Omololu Olunloyo and Baba Olusi
The group announced the endorsement through its spokesperson, Chief Biodun Akin-Fasae, after a meeting they held on Thursday at the House of Chiefs, Ibadan. Chief Akin-Fasae said any other group pretending to be Afenifere were “usurpers as well as renegades”.
The group said they represented the genuine interest of the Yoruba nation and were aligned to the progressive principles of the late Yoruba sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
“We are now telling the Yoruba people and the whole world that we are going to support President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo come 2019 Presidential election,” the group said.
Chief Akin-Fasae who did not hide his affinity to the ruling All Progressives Congress shook off any allegation of politicizing Afenifere saying, “There was no time Afenifere has not been a socio-political organization. It is a socio-cultural and political organization and that is just the full name of Afenifere. Let me again say that the owner of the mandate of the Yoruba people is APC. The six governors of Yorubaland are APC, all houses of Assembly in Yorubaland are APC, so we have six speakers of houses of assemblies, so you can imagine.
“Those who claim to be in the other group of Afenifere, none of them have ever contested an election. The fact is there for all to see. So, they don’t have any mandate”.
The group predicates its support on the infrastructural strides of the APC-led federal government in the Southwest region, and said the people of the zone owed president Buhari considerable appreciation.
But in a swift reaction to Secretary-General of Afenifere Yinka Odumakin told news correspondents that the purported endorsement of President Buhari by Afenifere was “fake news” and the meeting where the decision was said to have been taken “a charade”. He accused Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu – a chieftain of APC as being the mastermind and sponsor of the “renegade” group.
The Afenifere Secretary-General, said “If you look at the names of the people at that particular group, the only person that was once with us is Senator Fasanmi and we believe they are just using him.
“The masquerade behind this entire show is Bola Tinubu, who has plenty of money. Why is he hiding under Afenifere? Haven’t he and his people been disparaging Afenifere? Why has Afenifere suddenly become attractive to them?
“When Afenifere was fighting for the rights of Yoruba people attacked by herdsmen in Ile-Ife and in Akure, where was Bola Tinubu? Suddenly, he remembers Afenifere because elections are here.
“Let Tinubu come and meet us directly. Why is he hiding and using our name?”
Odumakin said Afenifere had said many times that it would only be supporting a candidate who supports restructuring, especially true federalism.
He said the authentic group led by Pa Fasoranti had made a decision on who the Yorubas support but that this will be formally announced after due consultations with the other sister socio-cultural groups in the country including, the Ohanaeze NdIgbo, Pan Niger-Delta Forum, Middle-belt Elders Forum and other groups interested to work with them.
He called on the Yorubas not to be swayed by the political ambition of one man alone, Alhaji Tinubu, who he alleged was hoping that president Buhari will hand over to him in 2023, not minding the greater collective interest of the Yoruba nation.
Official documents of the group show that the authentic Afenifere is led by Chief Pa Reuben Fasoranti and Pa Ayo Adebanjo and Mr. Yinka Odumakin as its substantive Secretary-General – non of whom were present in the Ibadan meeting that endorsed President Buhari.