6th November, 2022
By Femi Fani-Kayode
Given what is unfolding in the South West today certain questions have to be asked and certain truths need to be spoken. Permit me to begin with the following.
Would the Afenifere of old ever have supported a non-Yoruba candidate in a presidential election? Why do we have to cut our nose to spite our face? Simply because you hate or envy Bola Ahmed Tinubu does not mean we must deny the entire Yoruba race a crack at the Presidency.
And even if Tinubu offended you in the past can we not forgive?
You know very well that Peter Obi cannot win the presidential election and by supporting him in the West you are splitting our base and opening the door for an Atiku Presidency.
Is that what you want?
Do Nigeria and the Yoruba, whose interest you are supposed to further and protect, not deserve better than that?
Can you fathom or appreciate the implications of an Atiku Abubakar Presidency for our people and for the nation generally?
Have you thought it through? Do you understand what that would mean for us all?
I am a great supporter of the handshake across the Niger but the following question must be asked: would Ohanaeze ever support and back a Yoruba presidential candidate over and above an Igbo one?
You attempt to justify your position by saying that you base it on fairness, justice and equity but do they not say he who comes to equity must come with clean hands?
Are Obi’s hands clean? Does he even like the Yoruba? Has he, throughout his distinctly uninspiring period in public office as Governor of Anambra state, shown any respect to any tribe or ethnic nationality, including his own?
If we were talking about an Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, an Orji Uzor Kalu, a Chimaroke Nnamani or a David Umahi, all of whom have proved themselves to be true nationalists, who have always put the national interest before the tribal one and who have shown immense sensitivity and respect to people from other parts of the South and the North, you may have a point but Obi does not fit that bill and is far below that level.
He is essentially provincial and insular and he has little understanding of the history and complexities of a wider Nigeria. With him everything begins and ends in Anambra state and of course his containers. Apart from that you know what his real agenda is and those he takes orders from.
You also know that the divisive and sinister agenda that they have is not in our interest as a people or a nation.
To tread such a path will have grievous consequences for the unity abd stability of Nigeria and we can barely afford a second civil war in an attempt to “keep Nigeria one”.
In any case to attempt to subvert the will of the APC, the largest political party on the African continent, by denying support to its legitimate and only presidential candidate on the basis of microzoning or regional and ethnic considerations is unjust and inequitable.
This is especially so given the fact that the South West is one of the two pillars which the party rests on and which has provided a solid foundation for its success.
Are we to throw all that away and jettison the aspirations of our people on the alter of micro-zoning and wanting to right what many have described (including yours truly) as a historical wrong?
When the courageous Southern Governors met ACROSS PARTY LINES in Asaba last year and demanded a power shift they did not say it must go to the South West, South South or South East. They did not micro-zone it and they did not say that only South Eastern candidates should be considered. They opened it up to every son and daughter of the South including the Yoruba.
And neither did they say the candidate must be a Christian or a Muslim: they opened it up to both. Again when the selfless and gallant Northern Governors of the APC insisted on a power shift to the South, they never said it must go to any particular one of the three Southern zones: they opened it up to the entire South and Bola Tinubu won the nomination in a free and fair election at the party Convention.
Are we, as APC members and leaders, meant to turn our backs on that and betray our party simply because Afenifere says so? Are we meant to act as if we have no party and that we have no loyalty to our collective and common cause as a political association?
Are we to behave as if we have no loyalty or decency and are we expected to attempt to subvert the will of our party members as enunciated, reflected and established at our National Convention?
And anyone that is waiting for that to happen will wait forever. I sincerely hope that our beloved leaders in Afenifere will think again. They know how much we love, revere and respect them and they must nurture and sustain that disposition and affection by displaying a little more flexibility and respect for the views of others.
The cost of supporting Obi is very high and may end up destroying the unity, efficacy, utility and credibility of the entire organisation itself.
This is especially so when the old leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, has staged a comeback and has said he does not accept the decision of Pa Ayo Adebanjo, the new.
If there was ever a time for the Yoruba to ‘Ronu’ this is it. There is nothing that is decent, noble, inspiring or elegant in seeing and hearing elder statesman who are all over the age of 90 and all of whom we hold in high esteem, disagreeing and fighting publicly over issues that they ought to have been able to establish a broad and amicable consensus.
Do we really want yet another vitriolic, vicious, unending, fratricidal and gargantuan feud and division in our ranks as a people and ethnic nationality as we have had on so many occasions in our beleaguered and chequered past?
Has this insufferable and accursed infighting not been too costly for us over the last 62 years and has such division not ultimately affected the fortunes of not just the Yoruba but also the entire nation?
Anyone that knows the history of our nation can attest to that. We paid a terrible price for such a feud and division in the First, Second and Third Republics and many lives were lost: now we are preparing to do it all over again in the Fourth.
We cannot afford to continue to tread this ugly, blood-lusting, blood-stained and acrimonious past which is more often than not fuelled by nothing but petty rivalry, envy, bitterness, unforgiveness, ego, bad-belle and vaulting personal ambitions.
We cannot and must not abandon our son Bola Tinubu at a time like this and this is especially so after he has done so much for our people and race over the years.
A defeat and disgrace for Tinubu is a defeat and a disgrace for every Yoruba man in the country and in the wider world. Is that what Afenifere wants? To disgrace its own? Does it give them pleasure to remove the trousers of their own child before the world and humiliate him? Is a father not meant to protect and nurture the fortunes of his son?
Did the father not forgive and take back even the prodigal son?
Throwing away your own is not a virtue: it is a Vice. And doing so with pride and arrogance whilst attempting to justify it before the world with some kind of false and fake righteous indignation is unacceptable. It is not just, it is not right, it is not fair, it is not reasonable, it is not justifiable, it is not defensible and it looks very awkward and ugly.
It is also embarrassing.
We must present a united front and stand in support of our own and we must present him to Nigeria as one and in one accord in order to ensure that they vote for and support him. We must secure his base and we must build on it by reaching out to every other part of Nigeria.
That is the cause that a revered and noble institution like Afenifere ought to be pursuing and not any other. Yet if the truth be told, with or without Afenifere Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu shall prevail and by God’s grace, will win the presidential election.
-Fani-Kayode is the former Minister of Aviation and the Director of Public Engagements, Special Media Operations and New Media of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Organisation