Leaders of the Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, appear to be split into two factions with each endorsing a different presidential candidate in Nigeria’s February 2023 election.
The group said to be founded by the region’s former premier and Yoruba nationalist, Obafemi Awolowo, has Chief Ayo Adebanjo as the current leader endorsing the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi from the southeast and the other group led by retired leader Pa Reuben Fasoranti pitching its tent with Alhaji Bola Tinubu, a fellow Yoruba from the southwest, of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress, APC.
Afenifere is one of the ethnic sociopolitical groups canvassing for restructuring back to true federalism and formal rotation of power among the six geopolitical zones of the country. Since the return to democracy in 1999, there has been an informal power rotation arrangement between the north and south and 2023 is generally considered to be the turn of the south.
Afenifere’s leader, Adebanjo argues that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr Goodluck Jonathan from the southwest and soutsouth zones respectively have at different times been presidents, leaving the southeast as the only zone not to produce a president from the south. He said his group anchored their endorsement of Mr Obi from the southeast on the “principles of fairness, equity and justice”.
But asked why his faction is not endorsing Obi, Pa Fasornti retorted, “Obi has no stand in our mind at all”, but Tinubu “has been accepted and we approve of him“.
In the 2019 polls, Afenifere in collaboration with other sociopolitical groups in Nigeria endorsed Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP who ran against the incumbent President Buhari and lost.
Abubakar is once again running as PDP’s candidate, but his campaign appears to be in tatters with internal wranglings and party position disputations. At least 5 state governors have pulled their support for their party’s candidate.
The southwest region is torn between ethnic loyalty to one of their own, Alhaji Tinubu and a vision of a new Nigeria based on equity and justice which Peter Obi from the east represents.
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