The Pan- Yoruba Socio-Political Group, Afenifere, has blasted the Northern Elders Forum NEF for condemning its position on the Igbo presidency in the coming general election and insisted that it has no apology.
The General Secretary of the group, Chief Sola Ebiseni, communicated this in a statement in Akure, Ondo State. He noted that the group’s position was in the “interests of fairness, equity and national inclusiveness and without apologies.
Recall that Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the Afenifere leader, had called for an Igbo Presidency in 2023 for fairness and equity.
In a swift reaction, the Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Northern Elders Forum, NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, had faulted Adebanjo for canvassing an Igbo president in 2023.
According to him, “the real politicians, who know and understand the depth of the Nigerian nation and what it will take to lead it to see that it is talk like this from Chief Adebanjo, and not the identity of the next President, that represents threats to our future.
However, Afenifere had, in its response in a statement entitled “2023 Presidency: Who Does Baba-Ahmed Speak For? said that “the current struggle of the Afenifere, its leaders and strategic partners for better Nigeria, through its restructuring along with the foundational federal architecture, is a task in tandem with its ideology, principled tradition and ethos.
“The guiding insistence of Chief Ayo Adebanjo as Leader of the Afenifere, on Igbo Presidency in the interests of fairness, equity and national inclusiveness, is without apologies to those who have never been credited with any original and positive idea in the nation’s history but thrive on the unfounded divisions amongst the indigenous tribes of Nigeria.
“The stakes of Chief Ayo Adebanjo, veteran Awoist and patriot who for all of his 94 years on earth have been committed to the ideals of peaceful coexistence among the diverse groups of Nigeria, HIS ONLY COUNTRY, cannot be expected to be the same with a 65-year-old man who has another country to which he is indigenous and inevitably more loyal.
“Baba-Ahmed’s unprovoked vituperations on a man, his father’s age mate, is a strange and eloquent testimony of his imported culture. His usual references to and threats of some ill-defined northern interests which determine its voting habits show how much Baba-Ahmed understands Nigeria as a country whose leadership has never been a product of any regional political decision
”Chief Ayo Adebanjo, over the weekend, reiterated his position, shared by the majority of well-meaning citizens, that the next President of Nigeria, after Muhammadu Buhari of the North, should emerge from Southern Nigeria and specifically expressed a preference for a person of South-Eastern origin.
“It is this patriotic view, expressed within the context of a deep analysis of the country’s political history, that Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in his characteristic uncouth language, dismissed as a laughable threat targeted at the North (his north) which he said would continue to vote according to the dictates of its interests.
“It is instructive that the same view expressed by Chief Ayo Adebanjo of the Afenifere on the need for power-shift is shared by the Ohaneze Ndigbo for the South East, PANDEF for the South-South, the Middle Belt Forum which influence straddles the North Central mainly and the substantial parts of the remaining northern zones of North West and East.
“It is therefore clear that Baba-Ahmed and those he claims to speak for are only dwelling in their myopic and minority positions about Nigeria and its politics.
“We are not strange to the kind of tantrums by those who have never been credited with any ideals for Nigeria.
“When Nigeria was in search of a suitable form of Government, Ayo Adebanjo, now 94 and his Afenifere compatriots, in their youths, after painstaking research and analyses, came up with the idea of federalism.
“We note the laughable crocodile tears of Baba-Ahmed and his group on the current pervasive and intractable state of insecurity in Nigeria and the call for the resignation of President Buhari as if any clear-thinking Nigerian is so impressed.
Ebiseni added that “This volte-face lamentation is borne out of the poverty of ideas and most hypocritical of those who have resisted all ingredients of true federalism, including the imperative of State Police as a panacea for insecurity.