Posted by By Dapo Akinrefon on
THE crisis rocking the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has gone from bad to worse as the two factions of the organisation seems not to be ready to sheath their swords to allow for peace to reign.
THE crisis rocking the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has gone from bad to worse as the two factions of the organisation seems not to be ready to sheath their swords to allow for peace to reign. While some observers see this development as portending the possibility of the Yoruba losing out eventually if urgent measures are not taken to curb the crisis, others believe that it could only strengthen the people of the zone as they would become a force to reckon with in the near future. The organisation is being blighted by conflicts. And as at today, hopes of any resolution whatsoever to the conflicts, tends to dwindle by the day as a faction of the organisation has formally severed ties with the leadership of the organisation.
Recently, members of the faction, led by Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos State and other key chieftains of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) met at the Lagos Airport Hotel to express their determination to resist the third term bid of President Olusegun Obasanjo vowing to mobilize the Yoruba people and other well meaning Nigerians against the agenda.
Those who attended the Ayo Fasanmi-led faction meeting were Governor Tinubu of Lagos State, former governors of Ogun, Osun and Ekiti States, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Alliance for Democracy, (AD), National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, deputy leader of Afenifere, Senator Ayo Fasanmi, Afenifere Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, Mr Jimi Agbaje among others.
On the other hand, the Chief Reuben Fasoranti-led faction of the group held its meeting at the secretariat of the Alliance for Democracy and it had in attendance, Chief Olu Falae, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Ganiyu Dawodu, Chief Femi Okurounmu and Chief Supo Shonibare.
While the Ayo Fasanmi/ Tinubu faction announced at its press conference the expulsion of Senator Femi Okurounmu, acting leader of Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Chief Olu Falae, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and others for allegedly supporting President Obasanjo’s third term bid, the Fasoranti-led faction scoffed at the development saying that the subordinate cannot expel the superior. The Fasoranti-led faction also stated that any claim by the Fasanmi-led faction was false.
According to Chief Fasanmi, whose speech was read by Mr Yinka Odumakin, the Yoruba people would never support despotism and as such, rejected the third term agenda of Obasanjo because it was unconstitutional, saying that the lackeys of the third term bid within Afenifere had been dismembered.
Fasanmi said “We must state clearly that we have no choice than to part ways with the company of infidels since they have embraced all what the Yoruba loath-third term agenda of Obasanjo and IBB’s return. “Since the leader is still alive and a deputy is in place Afenifere would no longer allow anybody holding an untenable position to hold it to ransom. We have lost confidence in Chief Fasoranti for his many acts of indiscretion chief of which was a statement he made in several newspapers in October 2005 promoting division in the organization by making wild and unsubstantiated allegations against the National Chairman of AD, Chief Bisi Akande and the only surviving governor of AD/Afenifere, Senator Bola Tinubu, while pretending to be pursuing reconciliation. He has not disguised the fact the he is active player in the Akinfenwa faction”.
In its reaction, the Fasoranti faction explained recently at a press conference that “this assertion is false because during the time of Pa Ajasin, Senator Adesanya acted as leader; there was never any need for an acting leader before Fasoranti because we never had a leader who was incapacitated in his life-time”.
The Fasanmi group went further to expel Senator Femi Okunrounmu and others from the organisation stating irregularities.
His words: “As for Senator Femi Okunrounmu, we unequivocally reject him as Afenifere secretary for legion of reasons. Though, it must be emphasized that since he parted ways with the progressives after his quarrel with the late Chief Bisi Onabanjo and surfaced in the National Republican Convention (NRC) we have never taken him seriously. Although, he resurfaced in NADECO when he thought Abiola was going to be president, his politics has continued to smack of inconsistencies”.
In a swift response, the Chief Reuben Fasoranti-led group dismissed the alleged expulsion of him and his members from Afenifere saying that the statement was laughable.
Chief Fasoranti said: “You must have heard that there is a formation of a movement; in my mind, the PDP has broken into two and one of the splinter groups is meeting at the Lagos Airport hotel. It‘s an attempt to confuse people; what they did is awkward and funny to us and whatever they lay claim today (yesterday) is false. As far as we are concerned, the group meeting now is a splinter group. Afenifere is one, we‘re solidly one and any claim made is false”.
While faulting Governor Tinubu‘s romance over the formation of MDD, the Fasoranti-led group laughed at their expulsion from the organisation saying it‘s not possible.
“Bola Tinubu is not an Afenifere member, he‘s never been. He has never been attending our meeting for the past five years, he doesn‘t believe in Afenifere and so he can‘t speak for Afenifere. Afenifere sponsored him and led him to where he is today and he has abandoned us”. On the claim of our expulsion from Afenifere, a subordinate cannot expel his superior, it ‘s not done”, the group said.
Laying emphasis to Falae on the allegation of third term, Fasoranti said : “We have not fraternised with Obasanjo. We only went there to sympathise with him on the death of his wife. We never supported third term.”
In his own defence, Okurounmu who dismissed Fasanmi’s allegation of his romance with PDP and its reforms, regretted that Fasanmi has remained unstable. “Fasanmi blows hot and cold. He’s here today. He’s there tomorrow. “We sympathise with him,”he said noting that “if Odumakin will not be mischievous. Afenifere was the first body to issue a statement against third term. You published it. All of you are educated. You carried it in your newspapers, so nobody can fool you.”
“Tinubu is not an Afenifere member. He has never been .He has not been attending Afenifere meetings for the past five years. I came to Lagos. I appealed to him, he refused. So, he can’t be making statements for us. After we sponsored and supported him to win election, he turned his back at us. He used us and dumped us,” he lamented.
At this point it was obvious that the formation of the Movement for the Defence of Democracy, (MDD), was the crux of the matter why Afenifere was being torn apart. While the Bola Ahmed Tinubu/ Ayo Fasanmi faction has thrown its weight behind the formation of MDD, a fact that Governor Tinubu attested to at the press conference; the Fasoranti-led faction in its stead strongly believed that Tinubu‘s romance with MDD was a way of aiding Vice-President Atiku Abubarka‘s 2007 presidential ambition, which it (Fasoranti‘s faction) frowned at saying it would not be part of such selfish ambition.
Afenifere‘s crisis soon grew from bad to worse as a faction of the Yoruba pan-socio cultural group, Afenifere led by Chief Reuben Fasoranti, at another press conference in Lagos, dismissed the purported spate of expulsion.
The purported expulsion of Fasoranti‘s group from Afenifere came as a surprise to all and sundry even as Fasoranti maintained that his faction remains the authentic group.
Chief Fasoranti who was welcomed and cheered by members of Afenifere Lagos State chapter said the expulsion of him as well as other leaders of Afenifere should not be taken seriously adding that “those who held the meeting yesterday in Lagos to pronounce our expulsion are saying nonsense”.
Fasoranti explained that “A group met and said they had expelled some of us, myself in particular. I think it is the greatest joke of the year. Ayo Fasanmi can be very unreliable and inconsistent because we have met severally at Akure and Ijebu Igbo and he has never made mention of any such things neither did he show that he was interested in forming a faction. What I think is that maybe he‘s been used by some forces. Afenifere remains undaunted, more united than ever before and it still remains committed to the ideals and core values it stands for. What Fasanmi did was a surprise and although it is a new development and we shall study to know how to handle the situation”.
He went further to condemn the act describing it as being sacrilege.
His words: “This sacrilege was committed by a body, majority of whose members cannot lay claim to membership of Afenifere. Even the leaders of the group, Tinubu, Osoba, Niyi Adebayo and Pedro have not been attending Afenifere meetings over the last five years. Rather, they have distanced themselves from Afenifere, maligned it at every opportunity and tried to kill it. The genuine Afenifere is led by Pa Reuben Fasoranti”, Falae said.
After this, what next?
The continued cold war and internal crisis within Afenifere is seen by many as the beginning of the end of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organsation, legacies and norms that the great Awo handed down to his subordinates.
At the centre of the contrived crisis rocking Afenifere is the attempt to draft it into the Movement for the Defence of Democracy (MDD).
While a faction is solidly behind the formation of the group, the other faction has stated clearly that it does not want to be dragged into murky waters which might not be good for the organisation at this point in time. The development has introduced a new dimension to Yoruba politics. While Senator Adesanya is alive, two factions pledging their loyalty to him are at war. When last a Yoruba organisation was torn into two in the First Republic, it marked the dawn of a sad era.
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