How Fasoranti’s resignation exposes hidden problem of Yoruba
SINCE the exit of the revered leader of the Yoruba race, Chief Obafem Awolowo in 1987, one main and golden thing that has unarguably eluded the race but which prominent Yoruba sons and daughters and other stakeholders in the Yoruba project have continuously shied away to publicly admitting, is the twin-challenge of unity of the race as well as a leader acceptable to the vast majority.
Although the leadership of late Chief Adekunle Ajasin who succeeded Chief Awolowo as the leader of the Yoruba did not witness significant opposition, it was, however, not the case with late Abraham Adesanya who succeeded Ajasin. It was during the period of Adesanya that the whole fracas blew into the open, while all efforts deployed to avert it failed, the consequence was the emergence of splinter Afenifere groups.
Notwithstanding the palpable breakdown of the central group, Afenifere leadership under Chief Reuben Fasoranti still pretended to the whole world that everything is well until Monday this week when Chief Fasoranto could no longer conceal the burning fire under his garment and went ahead to declare that the Yoruba unity and leadership project has remained elusive, going by the way it was under late Chief Awolowo.
His words: “I joined Afenifere from inception with the following leaders: Pa Onasanya, Alhaji Ganiyu Daodu, Pa Abraham Adesanya, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Sir Olanihun Ajayi, Chief Sam Sonibare, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Wunmi Adegbonmire and others.
“The mantle of leadership fell on the late Pa Adekunle Ajasin, the late Pa Adesanya and me. As events unfolded in the past years, the focus and goals of the founding fathers were gradually eroded.
“This made it a Herculean task for members to work in unity. Several efforts were made to ensure actualisation of our goals, but it appeared we have not succeeded. This is basically due to reasons best known to members.”
Apparently shocked by the candid admission of the reality of the problem of Yoruba leadership and unity by Fasoranti, the group has scheduled an emergency meeting for today in the Ondo State capital, Akure to discuss the crisis and how to find a way out of it.
Today’s meeting was confirmed by the group’s Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin and its Lagos State leader, Chief Supo Sonibare.
Former Ogun State governor, Chief Segun Osoba said Pa Fasoranti, at his age and his pedigree among the Yoruba people to resign his position from such an exalted position of Yoruba leadership posed dangerous and far-reaching implications, which nobody can gauge.
Describing Pa Fasoranti as one of the impeccable leader not just among Yoruba but in Nigeria, Osoba lamented that his resignation further called to question the unity of the race “which is key to our survival in the country and beyond.”
According to him, “While looking at the implications of the resignation to the unity of Yoruba people there is the need to study the underlying factors that led to Pa Fasoranti’s decision. For such an elderly person to take such step there is more to it.”
Osoba disagreed with the notion that the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last general elections and the posture of some Yoruba in the party, to the outcome of the 2014 National Conference organized by immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, a basis on which Afenifere supported him (Jonathan), has anything to do with the unfolding event.
According to Osoba, “I don’t think the resignation of Pa Fasoranti has anything to do with the victory of the APC.”
He also dismissed as mere speculation, that Pa Fasoranti’s decision has something to do with the recent abduction of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae. He said, “I won’t to disagree also that the decision of Pa Fasoranti has anything to do with Chief Falae’s abduction more so when the culprits have been arrested.”
Speaking on the way forward, Osoba said, “This is the time for every Yoruba man to bury their differences and rethink about the progress and success of the race. This is not the period to apportion blame but a time to bury our individual ego, ambition for the common good and interest of the Yoruba.”
The group’s General Secretary, Asiwaju Sehinde Arogbofa in an interview with The Guardian in Akure also confirmed today’s emergency meeting. “The meeting will be strictly for members and members of the group only. We will make our decision known to you after the meeting.”
The scribe, however, assured that the resignation of Pa Fasoranti, “will not affect the struggle of the Yoruba race.”
Fasoranti remained incommunicado since Sunday as one of his children said their father was not ready to grant any press interview on his resignation.
She said that the leaders would soon make pubic the next line of action of the socio-cultural group.”
The Guardian gathered that Afenifere members in Ondo State on Monday visited Fasoranti at his residence in Akure, but were not allowed to see the octogenarian.
The elder statesman, Fasoranti, according to sources, did not attend to any of his visitors on Monday.
“Baba cannot attend to anybody now. He is in his bedroom relaxing,” the gateman and close family said, preventing people from having any discussion with the former leader.
A source revealed that there were moves by some leaders of the organization including Chief Olu Falae and Sehinde Arogbofa, who are both indigenes of the state and close associates of Fasoranti to reach out to him.
It was also gathered that Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who received the news of Fasoranti’s resignation with surprise might meet with the elder statesman before the end of the week.
Fasoranti, who emerged the leader of Afenifere following the death of Chief Abraham Adesanya announced his resignation as leader of the organisation through a letter on Sunday.
Commenting on the former leader, Sonibare said, “Chief Fasoranti has been one of the most amiable, respectful, reconciliatory leaders we have had who was saddled with the onerous task of leading at a time when those who had been entrenched in government by the elders now had differences with the leadership.
“He tried his best to bring about consensus within the group throughout his active engagement with members. He remains our leader and elder. However as he has indicated that health challenges will not allow him to continue to steer and chair the activities of the group.”
Sonibare added that Chief Awolowo, and six of his colleagues formed Afenifere to evolve a fairer society, “that objective must remain the abiding credo of the group for it to lay claim to that noble objective and heritage. Our success will be determined by how far we are able to achieve this objective.”
On the resignation, Sonibare said, “It is not unusual for our leaders to step side and no longer participate in the activities of the group, Chief Adekunle Ajasin did so even when at an age that was not as advanced as Pa Fasoranti.”
The former Provost of the defunct Ondo State College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti, Professor Olu Aderounmu has commended the former Afenifere leader who he said served the Yoruba very well.
According to him, “Baba is old and is incapable of moving round, and I think that when one realises that he/she cannot perform his functions effectively, the best thing is to allow the younger generation to take over.
“He has demonstrated that, however, it must be stated categorically with all sense of immodesty that the man contributed immensely to the development of the Yoruba nation,” saying he served the people in various capacities.
Aderounmu, an Akure indigene and Vice President of Akure Division of the Afenifer Renewal Group, however, explained the shortcomings of the modern day Afenifere, as opposed to what it used to be with the fundamental principles of the founding fathers was what forced the old man to resign.
“Baba felt disappointed that the ideologies, ethos of Afenifere in those years, during the Awolowo years, were not allowed to prevail. The performance of the group were below expectations.
“Not betrayal as such, well, betrayal to some extent perhaps he believes that those who would have supported him to the very last did not,” Aderounmu said.