Pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, on Monday, restated support for the presidential ambition of Labour Party’s Peter Obi, saying it won’t compromise its cherished principles of justice, equity and inclusiveness.
Afenifere’s leader, Ayo Adebanjo, stated this at a press conference held at the Wheatbaker Hotel in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State.
94-year-old Adebanjo said to keep Nigeria one in 2023, every Nigeria should be “Obi-Datti compliant”. Obi is running for Aso Rock’s top job alongside Datti Baba-Ahmed.
“The South-West has produced a president and currently sits as vice-president, the South-South has spent a total of six 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 marginalize and exclude them from the power dynamic.
“Peter Obi is the person of Igbo extraction that Afenifere has decided to support and to 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,” he said.
The nonagenarian’s comments come about a day after the Director of Media and Publicity of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga, took a swipe at him (Adebanjo) over his public support for Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, saying the Afenifere leader speaks for himself and not for the Yoruba people.
Adebanjo, who defended his group’s position on Obi on Monday, said Nigeria’s next president should come from the South-East to keep the country together and quell dissenting voices along the lines of secession.
“We enjoin the labour movement, students, youth organisations, women associations, and every institution whose foundation is built on fairness and justice to join hands in this task of enthroning a democratic government by supporting Peter Obi.
“If we are sincere and honest about keeping Nigeria together in peace, the slogan henceforth should be ‘To keep Nigeria one, everyone should be Obi/Datti compliant.’
“In the final analysis, let it be said that we have no apologies but due courage of our conviction that Nigeria can only prosper in righteousness.
“For me, in the twilight of my sojourn on earth at 94, it is too late to derail me on the track of true federalism and National inclusiveness on which I have travelled for over 70 years of my life as one of the few surviving initial prophets, I prefer to ascend on a chariot of fire, fueled by justice and equity,” Adebanjo added.
Earlier, apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide declared support for 61-year-old Obi.
However, the Northern Elders Forum said it is still evaluating the frontline hopefuls and that it is open to support any of the candidates including Tinubu, Obi; Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party.