Cracks may be emerging within the ranks of Afenifere, the apex Yoruba sociocultural group, as some members of the group led by Pa Reuben Fasoranti on Sunday, endorsed Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The endorsement, however, comes after Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, endorsed the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi.
Tinubu, who visited the national leader of the group, Pa Fasoranti and other leaders in Akure, Ondo State, presented the 80-page Action Plan document on how he intended to tackle the economy and other problems confronting the country.
Speaking during the visit, Fasoranti said Tinubu had earlier asked for his blessings in April, but noted that he informed him to first get the party’s ticket before coming for his blessings.
The Afenifere leader said: “I am happy that you’re here after getting your party’s presidential ticket.”
The elder statesman, thereafter, prayed that the APC candidate would win the election and that he would be alive to witness his inauguration in May 2023.
Other Afenifere leaders, including the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olu Falae and former Secretary-General of the group, Basorun Sehinde Arogbofa, joined Pa Fasoranti to pray for Tinubu’s victory at the polls next year.
Speaking later during a reception for the candidate, Pa Fasoranti described Tinubu as not only a Yoruba man but also a complete Nigerian.
Speaking through a former scribe of the group, Arogbofa, Fasoranti said: “You are not just a Yoruba man but a Nigerian. When you become President, consider Nigeria in all you do but never forget home. Our demands are what you know already.
“They are restructuring, security and fixing the economy. Our country is no longer safe. We want state police so that the country will be safe.
“We are in no doubt that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as President of Nigeria, offers the best opportunity to produce a government that will usher in an era of hope, peace, security, harmony, gainful employment for the multitude, economic development, social and political stability.
“Don’t let us have any regret supporting you when you get there.”
Also speaking, a former SGF, Olu Falae, charged Tinubu “to work to fix the economy.”
Falae said: “When you become President, please work to fix this country. We are here to offer advice. I am old and no longer looking for a job. We need to fix security, and fix our economy.
“Our naira is almost becoming useless and will soon become N1000 to a dollar.
“We must change that. I know your ability. We will always be here to support and I wish you well. We will be here when you bring the trophy home by the grace of God.”
In his response, Tinubu who didn’t respond to the group’s call for restructuring and state police spoke on the intrigues that characterised his emergence as the party’s candidate.
Tinubu said: “The North proved to me Nigeria can survive its unity. Some people want President Muhammadu Buhari to announce someone but the President said no.
“He insisted the process must go on democratically. The President said anyone that would mess up the APC process would see the other side of his eyes. He remained upright and saw the process to the end.
“Northern APC Governors resolved that the Presidency must go to the South and especially South West. Governors Nasir El-Rufai, Abdullahi Ganduje and others supported me to the end.
“The battle was tough and at a point, I was in doubt. There were many rumours and I became confused about what to believe.
“President Buhari told me I promoted his name with the way I won the primary election because the process was clean and transparent and nobody can accuse him of manipulating the process. President Buhari said I gave him credibility and I deserved to be President.
“When I asked him to nominate the VP candidate for me, he said I should pick whoever I want and it is the reason I chose a competent man in Kashim Shettima, who never lost any election and protected Christians in times of trouble in his state.”
I’m not bothered—AYO ADEBANJO
Meanwhile, when contacted, Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo said he was not bothered about Tinubu meeting Fasoranti adding that the APC candidate will be ignoring his group at his peril.
Adebanjo, who spoke with Vanguard, said: “Tinubu is a citizen and he has a right to meet with anybody and Fasoranti is also a senior citizen. I am not worried about the meeting. Tinubu is not in a position to ignore me, he will be ignoring my group at his peril. I don’t want to be diverted; if he ignores my group, it is at his own risk.”