The recent endorsement of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, by the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, has been described as unfortunate by the Middle Belt Forum.
Naija News recalls that the leadership of the Yoruba group led by Pa Reuben Fasoranti publicly declared support for the former Governor of Lagos State last week to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari come 2023.
Fasoranti had, on behalf of the group, assured Tinubu of their support in the coming elections when the presidential candidate visited the group’s leadership in Akure, Ondo State, last week.
The endorsement, however, has come with a series of knocks on Afenifere. Also, the acting leader of the socio-cultural group, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, who was not present during the meeting, has maintained that the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, remained Afenifere’s choice for the coming election.
Adebanjoy said that Fasoranti had no constitutional authority to act as the organisation’s leader.
Reacting to the declaration of Fasoranti and other leaders of the Yoruba group, the President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Pogu Bitrus, said the group’s declaration is unfortunate because it is believed that leaders of the sociocultural groups are people who have gone beyond the levels of parochial ethnic and whatever consideration, looking at things passionately at the national level.
Bitrus, however, urged Fasoranti and the group to review their activities and consider if it is the best for the country.
The MBF leader said: “Pa Fasoranti, with his age and everything, we respect him. We know he left that office about two years ago and Pa Adebanjo is the leader. His coming back to make such an issue out of the context of Bola Ahmed Tinubu is an unfortunate development and I think history will judge him, not because we are of different views.
“That is not the reason; the reason is we believe that at a stage in life, one goes beyond some level of being parochial but act as a statesman. I want him to reconsider his stance.”
Bitrus, during an interview with The PUNCH over the weekend, said MBF did not see Fasoranti’s endorsement of Tinubu as an attempt by politicians to cause confusion within Afenifere and divide it.
Asked whether the MBF was open to engaging with presidential candidates, he said, “We have already declared our stand. Right before the primaries, we said we would not support a northern candidate because we believed it was the turn of the South. While we were open to all southern candidates, Bola Ahmed Tinubu did what we believed we cannot accept.
“In Nigeria, where Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, militia and many other insurgent groups are of Islamic extraction, fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket is not acceptable; so, as far as we are concerned, he (Tinubu) is out of the consideration because we have to look at things that will benefit the nation, not just considering things based on sentiment.”