- The Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, does not believe that the northern population supersedes that of other regions
- Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of the group, described the notion as fraudulent and that he could not be swayed by it
- He sent a strong message to the northern political elites that they cannot dictate who leads the country to Nigerians
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Lagos, Victoria Island - Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the leader of Afenifere, a socio-cultural group in southwest Nigeria, has sent a powerful message to its northern counterpart ahead of the crucial 2023 general election.
As reported by Punch, Chief Adebanjo, in his message to the North, said the region cannot dictate and decide the fate of Nigerians going into the presidential polls.
He made this known on Monday, November 21, while delivering a public lecture at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs on Victoria Island, Lagos.
Chief Adebanjo said:
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“It was said that the South-East must come to negotiate with the North because politics is a game of numbers. My case is – and I told people yesterday – the case for the east is not to beg for a favour; it is their right. “Yet, each time I hear that they should go around because the North has the population, what fraudulent population? You can’t sell that to me.
“They tell us to work together but unfortunately because they now have produced a president at the helm of affairs, they say ‘no one can become president except you come to the North and unfortunately, some southerners have been brainwashed that they can’t do anything except they bow to the North. I don’t believe it.”
The Afenifere leader further stated that the northern region had no right to dictate who to lead the nation stating that the choice of leadership is a collective decision and responsibility of every region, no matter how small.
He stated that the Afenifere principle is also built on fairness and inclusiveness devoid of sentiments.
Ohanaeze speaks on nationalism
Meanwhile, Prof. George Obiozor, the president of the apex socio-cultural group in the east, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said Nigerian politicians have failed to learn from history, and it is becoming a serious problem for the nation.
He said an atmosphere of credibility in Nigeria has been lacking Nigeria since independence.
“Nigerian unity is definitely negotiable and must be re-negotiated for it to stand or survive the test of time. The reality over the years remains that in spite of the best efforts of all our leaders past or present, Nigerian unity is not guaranteed.
“It is simply, at best, an aspiration and not yet an achievement. Consequently, the statement that Nigerian unity is ‘non-negotiable’ is simply a historical fallacy.”
Northern Elders Forum speaks on Nigeria’s unity
Similarly, the Northern Elders Forum said those saying Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable are not of the North.
Dr Hakeem Ahmed, the national director of publicity of the NEF, said:
“Nigeria’s unity is negotiable. You either negotiate it because nations are very fragile and very delicate and you have to nurture them and pay attention to their need or they break and we are at that breaking point.”
2023 presidency: Tinubu's ambition threatened as Afenifere faction picks another candidate
The group, through its coordinator, Comrade Ajibade Adeyeye, made this decision on Sunday, November 20.
According to the platform, whose members are mostly young Yorubas, they are old enough to decide who will lead them come 2023 elections.