Pan-yoruba, socio-cultural and political group, Afenifere, appears divided and factionalised over which candidate to support in the 2019 presidential election.
On Thursday, some chieftains of Afenifere group led by Senator Ayo Fasanmi declared support for President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and disowned the faction led by Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Yinka Odumakin, who had earlier declared support for Abubakar Atiku, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Fasoranti- led faction had explained that they decided to back Atiku’s candidature because of his promise to restructure the country and adopt true federalism.
But, the Publicity Secretary of the Fasanmi group, Chief Biodun Fasae, who addressed journalists on behalf of Senator Fasanmi, after their meeting on Thursday, described members of the Fasoranti group as usurpers and not part of Afenifere.
“The Afenifere we know in Yoruba land is a progressive movement and this is where we are today in Ibadan,” he said. “The other Afenifere that is talking about Atiku; the Ayo Adebanjo group, they are not part of us. They are usurpers in the group”
The meeting of the Fasanmi group which held at the House of Chiefs, Secretariat, Ibadan, was attended by the former governor of old Oyo State, Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo, Prince Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi, Elder Yemi Alade, Muyiwa Ige, Dr. Abayomi Finnih, Prince Biodun Ogunleye and Mr. Ayo Afolabi, among others.
Fasae said the group will make a formal declaration for Buhari on January 29, 2019.
He disclosed: “We decided to host the whole Yoruba land in Ibadan on January 29, 2019. It is to proclaim the support of the Yoruba land for President Muhammadu Buhari come 2019 and also to tell the whole world that the Afenifere Baba Awolowo left is still intact as a progressive movement and any Afenifere who is not in the progressive is not part of us”.
Denying that Afenifere was factionalised, the spokesman said: “Yoruba is a nation, even during the time of Baba Awolowo, there were dissenting voices. So we are not embarrassed. This Afenifere is led by the longest living senator in Nigeria, Pa Ayo Fasanmi.
“The owner of the mandate of the Yoruba people is All Progressives Congress. The six governors of Yoruba land are APC. The Houses of Assembly are APC. So, we have six speakers. Those people in the other group of Afenifere, none of them has ever contested election. So,they don’t have any mandate.
“The Afenifere we are talking here has the mandate of the Yoruba people and you will see all of them here on January 29, 2019. The Vice President will be here to declare for the presidency of President Muhammadu Buhari”.
On the rowdy session that greeted the budget presentation by President Buhari at the National Assembly on Wednesday, Chief Akin-Fasae said “As a Nigeria, nobody would have loved what happened but you know it is a factional thing in the National Assembly. It is opposition that was saying those things, so what can we do? We are not celebrating or recognizing them. Whatever they want to do, let them do it but we are happy to see that the President is not deterred, he did what he wanted to do and left the place.”
“The issue of economy is a collective one because the economy has been bastardized for years and as at now President Buhari is trying his best bringing the economy up,” Fasae added.