‘Yoruba nationality is at a dangerous crossroads’
Resignation of Pa Ruben Fasoranti and its implications to Yoruba unity
THE decision by Pa Ruben Fasoranti to resign as the leader of Afenifere, in the first instance, portends great danger for the Yoruba; it is like throwing a bombshell that was capable of scattering the Yoruba self-confidence and unity. If there were any Yoruba man who wants to gloat on what had happened, such a Yoruba man would be exposing himself to the wrath of Oduduwa.
To me, Pa Fasoranti’s decision was a serious issue that calls for a rethink among all Yoruba people, particularly the elders.
Acceptable leadership and unity among Yoruba people over the years
Pa Fasoranti, Olanihun Ajayi and Ayo Adebanjo are elders of impeccable character; they were men of honour who at their age would not have taken any decision without considering the implications and options first. I give it to them that they are men of straight and strong characters. From the little I know about Pa Fasoranti, he is not a kind of elder who will act or talk loosely. He must have weighed the whole situation before he took the decision. I have not spoken with some of the elders to know what informed the decision in the first place.
Yoruba and question of leadership
The Yoruba nationality is at a dangerous crossroads with the development. I see greater danger ahead if we don’t take necessary step in time. On the problem of leadership and unity, this is not the time to apportion blame, recriminate and not the time to point accusing fingers at one another but it is a time we need to do a lot of retrospection on how to chart a way forward for the race.
One united front for the Yoruba
It is not an exaggeration to say that not until the Yoruba is able to agree on what they want, this country may find it difficult to move ahead. The Yoruba have always been in the forefront of progressive politics in this country and therefore if we are the leaders of progressive politics, Afenifere is the socio-cultural arm of the progressive wings of Nigeria politics.
The mistake over the years is not to have confined the organization to its socio-cultural arm of the progressive ideology of the Yoruba people. Afenifere cannot be involved or be promoting a particular political party.
In the first place it is very unfortunate that we have several eminent lawyers in Afenifere, for instance the likes of Pa Abraham Adesanya of blessed memory Olaniwun Ajayi, Ayo Adebanjo are lawyers but the question is why is it that up till date, the organization has no constitution? Even in Heaven, there are rules and regulations. As I talk to you Afenifere have no codified rules and regulations. The organisation did not have a secretariat. It is true that Ibadan is the political capital of the Yoruba nation but why is it that we don’t have a secretariat, even in Ibadan?
The organisation has been personified over the years and whoever is the leader turns his house into its headquarters. We cannot continue to live in the past and think it would be possible to use the old analogue styles to lead young and exposed people, who are now operating in the Internet age.
This is the time that we, the immediate elders behind these old people of Afenifere, should rally round to save the organization and also help the elders so that they will not die in sorrow and pain as a result of the challenges confronting the Yoruba race. As a matter of fact, Pa Fasoranti’s action has thrown up some cogent issues of concern, which we must all ruminate on. It is the duty of people in my generation not to allow these elders to travel to their grave in serious frustration and heart breaking feelings. I will appeal that we should all rally round them to address the situation confronting the Yoruba.
First, we need is to codified Afenifere, restructure the organization in such a way that emergence of leadership would be easy for us and we should now look for a way of detaching the organization from partisan politics and from promoting a particular political party or individual. It should stand for a particular ideology, which Chief Obafemi Awolowo stood for.
Whether we like it or not, Afenifere was a Yoruba name coined from the Action Group (AG), by Chief A A A Akinloye.
We also need to restructure Afenifere with the aim of taking it back to its original purpose, which is the progressives wing of the Yoruba and fashion it along the line of Awolowo’s progressive ideology and school of politics. We should not allow the organization be involve in the mudslinging crisis of politics such that happened in the 2015 tsunami, I mean in the last general elections. This is one of the things we must all rise up to prevent henceforth.
Afenifere and the 2015 general elections
I became involved in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) at the late hour during the 2015 elections but what I observed is that tactical and strategic errors were made by the organization during the last general elections. Most of our elders, who have been trying to showcase the philosophy and ideology of Chief Awolowo ought not to have supported former President Goodluck Jonathan in the last general elections without doing some serious discussions and consultations. The SDP is a party promoted by Afenifere but up till today the chairman of the party, Chief Olu Falae and I have never sat down to discuss the affairs of SDP.
Could that be true sir?
Yes I’m serious. Since I got involved in the SDP before the last general elections, Chief Falae and myself have never sat down to discuss the affairs of the party. I’m telling you. The organization turned itself into a spare part by going to support Jonathan in the last elections. There was no concrete agreement between the leadership of the party and the former president in the first instance…
Implementation of the 2014 National Conference resolutions
What gave the Afenifere’s leaders the assurance that Jonathan would implement the resolutions of the conference if he had won the election? What commitment and evidence did Jonathan showed to implement the outcome of the conference, which does not need the approval of the National Assembly? He did not even take one line from any of the resolutions made at the conference to the National Assembly. He just took the entire report and dumped it on the table of President Muhammadu Buhari.
If there was this compensation by Jonathan as alleged I never knew anything about it. We were in the field and we understand the fact that the entire Yoruba leaders were against Jonathan. The feelers we got from the field during the campaign showed that the people of South West are against Jonathan. It was therefore wrong of the leadership of Afenifere to have gone on a monolithic agenda to support Jonathan with the conviction that he would implement the report of the confab. None of the elders called to tell me that they would support the former president when we were campaigning in Ogun State. I never attended any meeting where we discussed anything with Jonathan.
Aims of joining SDP in the last general election
I had series of meeting with Pa Adebanjo and Ajayi in the first part and I was part of the team that worked towards MKO Abiola’s mandate, which was one of the reasons I became governor in 1992. I found it convenient to join the SDP than to go to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I am happy I didn’t venture to join the PDP otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to survive the kind of political mudslinging that happened within the party over the issue of Jonathan’s money. Imagine the type altercations between some politicians over the issue of sharing money that they collected from Jonathan? If I had been part of that scam my name would have been thrown into bigger mess.
But like I said earlier this is not the time to start pointing accusing fingers but to burry our differences and work to protect the interest of Yoruba.
As an individual, I am ready to play serious supporting role in rescuing the Yoruba race in a position that we found ourselves now. We need somebody we can all rally round as a leader, whoever the person is.
Relevance of Awolowo’s philosophy
Awolowo’s philosophy is not outdated, it is still very relevance to the present situation. You cannot tell me that freedom; equality and welfarism are outdated. Go and check out the meaning of egalitarian and you will discover it has an encompassing meaning. We talk of perfect healthcare, education and transportation among others. To this end, I would not agree that Awolowo’s philosophy is no longer relevance in the present age.
The possibility of either former President Olusegun Obasanjo or former governor Bola Tinubu emerging Yoruba leader
I will reiterate that this is not a time for the Yoruba race to start throwing bricks. We all need to sit down and think about the progress of the race. If they are interested there is nothing bad if they indicate their interest and the people will decide. What I am after now is the general interest of the Yoruba people, which I am afraid, is endangered at present. If however Obasanjo or Tinubu is accepted to lead the Yoruba in a consensus, I will abide by the decision.