The leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, on Monday explained why the group would not support the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rival, Atiku Abubakar, in the 2023 elections.
Adebanjo came under criticism from the Director of Media and Publicity, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga, over his support for the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, at the weekend.
In a lengthy statement on his Facebook page on Saturday, the former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said although the elder statesman has an inalienable right to support any candidate of his choice, he was not speaking on behalf of Afenifere on the decision to adopt the former Anambra State governor next year.
Adebanjo, who responded to the criticism that trailed his open support for Obi, said the pan Yoruba socio-political organisation was interested in justice and fairness.
He added that Afenifere believed in federalism and the Federal Character principle.
He urged Niggerins to support Obi and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, in 2023 in order to keep the country as one indivisible entity.
The statement read: “Not a few Yoruba leaders questioned why I should be supporting Peter Obi, a candidate of Igbo extraction, against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a Yoruba. I took my time to explain that the presidency is not a contest between the Yorubas and the Igbos and to a large extent I was able to convince many.
“But ever since social media has been filled with comments tending to ethnicise the campaign instead of making it issue-based. Afenifere has, therefore, decided to address you today (Monday) and through you educate the public on the ideological and equitable principles which have influenced our decision.
“Afenifere is the Yoruba interpretation of the social welfarist ideology of Action Group, a political party founded by Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his colleagues in 1951 with strong advocacy for federalism as the best form of government to give the federating units the requisite autonomy to thrive and peacefully compete among themselves for the ultimate development of Nigeria.
“Nigeria founding fathers — Sir Ahmadu Bello, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo — agreed to the system with the endorsement of colonial secretary Sir Oliver Littleton in 1954 “and embodied in the 1960 independence constitution. This is the modest contribution of Afenifere in shaping Nigeria into a federation where no person or ethnic nationality is oppressed.
“We will not compromise this principle of justice, equity, and inclusiveness because one of our own Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is a frontline candidate.”
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