Afenifere’s Leader, Fasoranti Tackles Adebanjo, Insists On Tinubu As Poll Winner

Reuben Fasoranti, leader of Afenifere, says the organisation recognises Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Nigeria’s president-elect while Afenifere, its acting leader, Ayo Adebanjo, rejected the declaration, saying Peter Obi of the Labour Party, who came third, actually won the election.

Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was on 1 March declared the winner of the 25 February election by the Independent National Electoral Commission. .

The crisis in the apex Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, has become active again as the two foremost leaders of the group have continued to disagree over the emergence of Tinubu.

However, the stand of the Adebanjo leadership appears not to enjoy the support of many leaders of Afenifere, including Reuben Fasoranti.

Fasoranti had named Adebanjo as the acting leader of the group in 2021 when he stepped down from the position on account of his advanced age.

Dissatisfied with the endorsement of Obi, Fasoranti had last year hosted a reception for Tinubu in which he blessed his presidential bid.

In the latest development, via statement on Wednesday, the elder statesman reacted to the suspension of two national officers of the Yoruba socio-political group, describing it as “null and void.”

Information Nigeria reports that Afenifere led by Ayo Adebanjo had suspended Jare Ajayi, the group’s national publicity secretary, and Abagun Kole Omololu, national organising secretary.

The officers were suspended for issuing an “unauthorised statement” against Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, chairman of the council of elders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

The suspension of the duo was announced in a communiqué released at the end of the Afenifere monthly general meeting, on Tuesday.

The Afenifere leader said Ajayi and Omololu were suspended for issuing a statement on behalf of Afenifere in which the president-elect was congratulated.

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But distancing himself from the communiqué by its leader and Secretary General, Ayo Adebanjo and Sola Ebiseni, respectively, after its monthly meeting, held at Isanya Ogbo in Ogun State, Fasoranti said: “A general meeting does not have the power to convene and take such a far-reaching decision, just at the whims of individuals.”

The statement reads: “My attention has been drawn to the Communique purportedly issued after a meeting that held on Tuesday, March 27, at Isanya Ogbo, Ogun State. This statement is being issued because of the content of the said document.

“Afenifere could not have asserted that someone, other than the person declared by the body duly authorized by the Constitution and other extant laws of the land, is the winner of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023 in Nigeria.

“The body mandated to conduct elections in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, after the completion of this year’s presidential election on February 25th, has declared the candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the winner of the said election. Our National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Jare Ajayi, issued a congratulatory message to the President-elect after he had been issued a Certificate of Return by INEC. “This was cited as an ‘uncouth activity’ by the communiqué mentioned above which further stated that Abagun and Ajayi were ‘suspended sine die pending further decisions after their appearance before and recommendations by the Disciplinary Committee’. It means that the two were pronounced guilty and consequently sanctioned even before their appearance before a Disciplinary Committee.

“That is not the Afenifere way. A General Meeting does not have the power to convene and take such a far-reaching decision just at the whims of individuals. There must have been an official petition laid at the Caucus Meeting, which is referred to the Disciplinary Committee that will investigate and give the officers involved the opportunity to plead their cases.

“Reports and recommendations are then received by the Leaders-in-Council who then take a decision on the Report with The Leader before reverting to the Caucus in communication. This fiat approach as seen in the current situation is alien to our organisation and cannot stand.”

On the presidential election, he said: “This type of position is alien to us in Afenifere which does not conduct itself as an agent of the state let alone as an electoral umpire. We accept the results of the elections at all levels as declared by INEC until otherwise decided by competent courts in the land.

“Presently, the whole world knows that Nigeria has a President-elect in the person of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a true Yoruba son and nationalist. We in Afenifere not only acknowledge this, but we also take delight in his in-coming Presidency and are confident that he will, by the grace of God, return Nigeria to the glorious position that all of us will be proud of.

“I also read in the said communiqué, the purported removal and suspension of the National Publicity Secretary and the National Organising Secretary of the organization in persons of Jare Ajayi and Abagun Kole Omololu.

“At no time was any of these officials reported to me as doing anything against what Afenifere stands for or doing anything against the interests of our race, the Yoruba. Thus, at no time was I informed that they were queried, warned or sanctioned for conducting themselves in a manner contrary to what Afenifere or the Yoruba stand for.

“Being an organisation that believes in justice and fairness; being an organisation that always maintains that those at the helms of affairs should follow the rule of law, Afenifere, our organisation, cannot just wake up and pronounce some officials removed and suspended without telling them what their offences are and giving them the opportunities to defend themselves.”