Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere has explained why the Yoruba socio-cultural group is backing Peter Obi, Labour Presidential candidate in 2023 election.
Adebanjo in a statement released on Monday September 26, said their support for Obi in the election is part of its contribution in shaping Nigeria into a federation “where no person or ethnic nationality is oppressed”.
The group which stated that it is backing Obi’s presidential bid based on the principle of equity and federal character as enshrined in the constitution, added that other tribes in Nigeria can’t continue to demand that the Igbos remain in Nigeria while brutally marginalizing and excluding them from the power dynamic.
The statement read;
“In the countdown to the 2023 general elections, long before the parties conducted their conventions to elect their national executives and candidates, we had insisted and still advocate restructuring before the elections proposing a synthesis of the identical resolutions of the 2014 National Conference and the APC El-Rufai 2018 True Federalism Committee.
“We did this as Afenifere and on the wider spectrum of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF). The SMBLF unanimously proposed that the minimum condition for a peaceful transition from the disastrous 8 years of Buhari’s government headed by a President of northern extraction was to have the next President from the South.
“This position was also supported by all the southern governors, irrespective of their political parties at a meeting held in Asaba, Delta State.
“Incidentally, this North/South consideration which is at the very root of our amalgamated federation is also the most important testament of all political parties in Nigeria. The principle of federal character enshrined in the constitution dictates that the government of the federation or any part thereof shall not be concentrated in any ethnic group or a combination of such groups.
“It is, therefore, preposterous to adopt this principle for employment in public service admissions in educational institutions, political appointment, the composition of the executive committee of a political party, only to jettison it in the most important question of rulership of the federation.
“In this quest for peace, based on equity and inclusiveness, the Yoruba took the first turn at the zoning arrangement in 1999, and that led to the emergence of Chief Obasanjo; the current Vice President is a Yoruba man and equity forbids us for presuming to support another Yoruba person for the presidency in 2023. The current President is a Fulani from the Northwest and by virtue of the zoning arrangement that has governed Nigeria since 1999, power is supposed to return to the south imminently.
“The south-west, as I have pointed out, has produced a president and currently sits as VP; the south-south has spent a total of 6 years in the Presidency, but the Igbo people of the south-east have never tasted presidency in Nigeria, and now that the power is due back in the South, equity demands that it be ceded to the Igbo.
“We cannot continue to demand that the Igbo people remain in Nigeria, while we at the same time continue to brutally marginalise and exclude them from the power dynamic.
“Peter Obi is the person of Igbo extraction that Afenifere has decided to support and back; he is the man we trust to restructure the country back to federalism on the assumption of office.
“We will not compromise this principle of justice, equity, and inclusiveness because one of our own, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is a frontline candidate.
“It is on this same principle, we condemn the PDP for sponsoring Atiku Abubakar, a Northern Fulani Muslim, to succeed General Muhammadu Buhari, another Fulani Muslim, who will soon complete 8 years of uneventful and disastrous rule.
“One can imagine such a high degree of political insensitivity.”