All Progressives Congress (APC), is from the region and has his roots in the same political group.he presidential candidacy of Bola Tinubu is causing confusion in Afenifere, a political group that once controlled the politics of the Yoruba Southwest. Mr Tinubu, who is the candidate of the ruling
An announcement by the acting leader of the group, Ayo Adebanjo, of the endorsement of the candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, had caused curiosity in and outside the region. It has now created upheaval in the group and brought the 94-year-old Mr Adebanjo into collision with the 97-year-old Reuben Fasoranti, who a few years ago announced his own retirement as leader of the group, citing his advanced age.
History of a conflict
n the last two decades, Afenifere has endured factional splits and loss of status and influence.
Currently, Messrs Fasoranti and Abebanjo are locked in a cold war over Messrs Obi and Tinubu.
“I am still the leader of Afenifere. Afenifere has not endorsed Obi, we are endorsing Jagaban (Bola Ahmed Tinubu) for the presidency,” Mr Fasoranti had said in a viral video after the visit of Mr Tinubu to his home in Akure.
However, last year, Mr Fasoranti stepped down as the leader of the group and pronounced Mr Adebanjo the acting leader.
“Only a more alike and active leadership can achieve this. At 95 I am hardly able to provide such and so it is time for me to step aside,” Mr Fsoranti said at the time.
“At this junction, I am proud to announce Chief Ayo Adebanjo, a politician of the Awolowo school of thought, as Acting Leader of Afenifere and Oba Oladipo Olaitan, the Alaago of Kajola Ago in Atakumosa East Local Government Area (Osun State), as the Deputy Leader,” he had said when he stepped aside.
Mr Adebanjo had announced that Afenifere was backing Mr Obi. He said the endorsement was based on the principles of fairness and equity. He said since the South-west had had eight years in the presidency with Olusegun Obasanjo and the South-south five years with Goodluck Jonathan, the South-east should be the next beneficiary of the alternation of the presidency between the north and south of Nigeria.
While his argument seems straightforward, the history between all the parties involved tells a different story. It is a story of a power game in Afeneifere and mainstream Yoruba politics.
The actors involved in this power-play share a long history featuring many events that created bad blood among them. Mr Adebanjo was the Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Lagos during the famous primaries of the party in 1998 that had Tinubu, Funsho Williams and Kofo Bucknor-Akerele as the main contestants.
At the return of democracy in 1999, Afenifere, which represents the dominant Obafemi Awolowo progressive political tendency among the Yorubas, took control of the politics of the South-west through the Alliance for Democracy (AD) political party.
The AD, composed of mainly the Awo disciples and some other units that fought the Sani Abacha junta over the June 12 election, was one of the three registered parties and won the governorship and most of the other elections in the six states of the region. Because the party did not do well in the other five regions of the country, the Afenifere became very powerful in the AD and sought to also keep its governors under its influence.
Some old Awoists (as followers and associates of the late Mr Awolowo call themselves) like Segun Osoba in Ogun State, Lam Adesina in Oyo State, Adebayo Adefarati in Ondo, and Bisi Akande, a former deputy and protege of Bola Ige in Osun State, were the governors.
In Ekiti State, Adeniyi, a son of Adeyinka Adebayo, the first military governor of the defunct Western region, was the governor. For Lagos State, Mr Tinubu won a tough primary against Mr Williams, later assassinated, and MrsBuknor-Akerele, whom Mr Tinubu later picked as his running mate.
Aside from governors, the AD also produced most of the senators and members of the Houses of Representatives in the region. For the presidential election, it entered into an alliance with the All Peoples Party, but their joint candidate, Olu Falae, was defeated by Olusegun Obasanjo in the two-horse race of 1999.
interview published in Thisday newspaper, said the AD leadership went into alliance with then President Obasanjo in the buildup to the 2003 election after the latter had promised to restructure the country, a key item in the manifesto of the AD.r Osoba, in an
“He (Obasanjo) deceived us by promising true federalism, fiscal responsibility, and credible census. Our leaders believed him,” the former Ogun State governor said.
AD was decimated, losing five of its six governorship seats, except in Lagos State where Mr Tinubu held on.
Efforts to spread to other states like Imo, with Hope Uzodinma as governorship candidate, and Kwara where Lai Mohammed was the candidate, ended in defeat.
But a crisis in the AD, arising from its 1998 presidential primary and subsequent loss of focus, contributed to the party’s annihilation.
At that primary, Mr Falae, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and finance minister under the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida, had defeated the deputy leader of Afenifere, Mr Ige, to pick the AD ticket.
This did not go down well with Mr Ige and his supporters who felt betrayed by his colleagues in the old guard of Awoists and Afenifere. They felt that since the Afenifere leader, Abraham Adesanya, had declined to take the ticket, his deputy should have the next right of first refusal.
Mr Ige would later incense his comrades by accepting a ministerial appointment from Mr Obasanjo, widening the crack in the AD and Afenifere.
With the centre no longer holding in Afenifere, the AD drifted into a leadership crisis as two rivals fought over its national chairmanship.
By 2006, the party was only alive on the register of the electoral body. Its last governor, Mr Tinubu then teamed up with others like his former Osun counterpart, Mr Akande, and Ayo Opadokun to create a new party, Action Congress (AC).
Mr Osoba had in the ThisDay interview blamed the leadership of Afenifere for the demise of AD. He narrated how John Oyegun, a former governor of Edo State in the short-lived Third Republic who later became the national chairman of the APC, was kicked out of AD for suggesting an alliance with APP.
Also, Mr Akande, in his memoir, My Participation, blamed the inability of the AD to distinguish itself from Afenifere for the demise of the party.
Since Mr Tinubu left the AD, there has been no love lost between him and the Afenifere. Since then, the leadership of the now severely diminished group has ensured it stayed well apart from Mr Tinubu’s own efforts. Mr Adebanjo is the most vocal antagonist of Mr Tinubu and both have become the flag bearers of their different tendencies in Afenifere and the Yoruba mainstream politics.
In 2015, after Mr Tinubu had joined others to bring about the merger of three of the registered parties and nominated Muhammadu Buhari as its presidential candidate, Afenifere endorsed the sitting President Jonathan against the APC candidate who went on to win the election. But the decision divided the group as some state chapters opposed the endorsement.
Again in 2019, the group was divided over its endorsements. A faction led by Mr Fasoranti endorsed Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, while another faction led by Ayo Fasanmi endorsed Mr Buhari of the APC. The late Mr Fasanmi, who was an associate of the late Mr Ige, had refused to recognise Mr Fasoranti as Afenifere leader as part of the division in the group. That situation persisted until the death of Mr Fasanmi after which his followers grudgingly accepted the leadership of Mr Fasoranti.
Despite the death of Mr Fasanmi, Afenifere appears to be going into this election once again divided. This time, between the leader in retirement and the acting leader.
Many in Afenifere and among the Yoruba believe the current fight over endorsement is a reflection of the personal animosity between Messrs Tinubu and Adebanjo.
However, beyond embarrassing him or lending him a cloak of solid home support, it is difficult to see how the endorsement of Afenifere can add to or take away from the votes of Mr Tinubu in his home region. Political inclinations in the region have solidified over time with the APC and PDP the beneficiaries of the political tradition of the region.
Endorsement: What value?
ut isn’t this much ado about nothing? Despite the endorsement of Afenifere, the PDP did not win in the region in 2015 and 2019. Yet, as demonstrated in Osun earlier this year, the party remains strong in the region, which means that Mr Tinubu cannot expect a landslide victory in the region next year.
Even the late Mr Awolowo achieved that feat only once in his long and illustrious political career – in 1979 when his Unity Party of Nigeria swept the polls in the five states that were created from the Western Region he governed as premier from 1952 to 1959. In the following general election in 1983, he lost two of those states, albeit controversially as happened to the AD too in 2003.
Tinubu and the North-west
side from the South West, Mr Tinubu appears to be pinning his hope of winning next year on retaining the support of his party in the North-west geopolitical zone.
This is understandable. This is the only zone with seven states in the country. With 22.27 million registered voters, it has the largest population of voters too. Popular support in the zone has been the base from which President Buhari secured his elections in 2015 and 2019.
The presidential race is panning out to be a four-horse race. The race is equally taking regional colouration, as the candidates are trying to hold their strongholds while making a play for those of the rivals.
With Mr Buhari out, Mr Tinubu, former Kano State Governor and candidate of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, and former Vice President Atiku of the PDP are positioning themselves to inherit the block votes of the North-west.
What makes the North-west important? The zone has the KKK states (Kano, Kaduna, and Katsina) whose massive voter turnout decided the outcomes of elections in 2015 and 2019. In addition, six of the seven states in the region also have APC governors, hence Mr Tinubu fancies his chances in this region.
Aside from his South-west, he is counting on his running mate, Kassim Shettima, to deliver Borno and Yobe states, and also have a good showing in other North-east states. In the North-central, the APC structure in Kwara, Kogi and Niger remains formidable.
In the South-east and South-south, Mr Obi’s movement and the lingering internal crisis in the PDP, led by Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike, may divide opposition votes. Without these two factors, the two zones would have been the stronghold of Atiku.
This background may explain Mr Tinubu’s decision to prioritise the North-west since he announced his decision to run for president in January.
The politics of donation
donated N100 million to victims of the ravaging flood in Kano State.ast week, Mr Tinubu spent three days in Kano State, where he met political leaders, support groups, business community leaders, religious leaders and others. He even
Earlier in September, Mr Tinubu donated N50 million to victims of floods in Jigawa State. In March, he donated another N50 million to victims of a fire disaster at the Katsina Central Market. In January, there was a N50 million donation to victims of the Gusau attack in Zamfara State and in April, another N50 million in Kaduna State.
Mr Tinubu has also made a conscious effort to befriend governors of the region. During the Kaduna Economic and Investment summit, he assured Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State of a place in his government if elected.
He appears not to be leaving anything to chance in the struggle to get the backing of the region. Earlier in the month, he appeared before the Arewa Consultative Forum to assure the North of protecting its interest.
The former Lagos State governor attended the event despite the allegation by Mr Kwankwaso that the ACF already endorsed another candidate.
Mr Kwankwaso had declined to appear before the forum for the interactive session. In the letter of rejection of his invitation, he said the forum already endorsed a candidate.
Although he did not mention the supposed candidate, he dropped a hint that the said candidate held a rally in Kaduna State during the period of the interactive session. Only one candidate held a rally in the same period, Atiku.
“We note that the earlier date was even postponed and a new date was fixed to coincide with the date of the rally of one of the presidential candidates in Kaduna.
“We have credible information in our possession that shows that some people have been compromised and these people have concluded plans to turn the event into an endorsement platform for a particular candidate,” Mr Kwankwaso wrote.
Buba Galadinma, a chieftain of NNPP, during an interview on Politics Today, further explained that Mr Kwankwaso declined the invitation because, in 2018, the position of northern elders caused the former Kano governor to lose the PDP primaries in Port Harcourt.
“Some of those people that gathered in Kaduna were the ones that went to Port Harcourt in “2019” to say that the North has decided that so and so is the candidate of the north. That worked against Kwankwaso and he lost the primaries. We know them, we know their characters,” he said.
Mr El-Rufai, in his goodwill message at the event, also alluded to a report of a plan to use the event to endorse a particular candidate. He stated that many within Mr Tinubu’s inner cycle urged him to shun the invite. However, he insisted on attending the interactive session.
“I want to thank Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for resisting all entreaties that he should not honour this invitation. He was told that this whole arrangement is meant to endorse a particular candidate, but he insisted that even if the arrangement is to endorse a particular candidate, I will come and I will change their minds,” Mr El-Rufai had said.
If there is any candidate with an understanding of the politics of the Arewa Consultative Forum, it is Atiku. In 2010, ahead of the presidential primaries of the PDP, the ACF had met to select a candidate among the northern aspirants: Atiku; former head of state Ibrahim Babangida; Bukola Saraki, the then governor of Kwara State and Aliyu Gusau, a retired general of the Nigerian Army.
In the end, they settled for the former vice president, a decision that irked some of the aspirants like Mr Saraki, who subsequently supported Goodluck Jonathan.
Perhaps, Mr Tinubu understands the influence of the former vice president and the politics of the ACF, which could explain his decision to hold the governors of the North-west very close. This strategy paid off during the APC primaries, particularly after the PDP primaries that produced Atiku.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the choice of Atiku unsettled some APC governors, who argued that only a Northern candidate can defeat the latter. However, many northern governors loyal to Mr Tinubu stood firm that power must shift to the South.
With this strategy, it appears Mr Tinubu has conceded both South-east and South-south to his opponents and instead focused his attention on the North-west. A similar path guaranteed victory for the party in 2015 and 2019. However, unlike the incumbent president, Mr Tinubu has to fight for every vote in the region.
But Mr Tinubu will be worried about the biggest voting bloc amidst the raging fire in the Kano State APC, where the majority leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Doguwa and the deputy governorship candidate in the state, Muritala Garo.
The duo already had some sort of WWE Royal Rumble that ended with a black eye on Mr Garo.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the alleged violence that happened between Messrs Doguwa and Garo, where the latter accused the former of attacking him with a tea cup at the political meeting on Monday.
Mr Garo told BBC Hausa that the majority leader violently invaded a meeting at the deputy governor’s residence and made several “baseless accusations” against the gathering including the deputy governor, Nasiru Gawuna, who is also the party’s governorship candidate.
Mr Garo said the majority leader became violent and injured him with a teacup while he was trying to defend himself against some of the accusations.
Mr Doguwa has since denied the allegation, stating that Mr Garo slipped in the melee that ensued at the meeting.
The lawmaker said he was not invited to the meeting but stumbled upon the meeting and raised concerns over the exclusion of members of the National Assembly from Kano State.
Mr Doguwa, during a press briefing on Friday, said Mr Garo, who is married to Walidah Atiku, is working for his father-in-law after failing to get the governorship ticket.
Mr Garo married Atiku’s daughter in 2016 in Yola.
He stated that Mr Garo, a former commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, confided in him that he would rather be an in-law to a president than become a deputy governor.
The Tinubu campaign will, however, be energised by the recent forecast by Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research, a subsidiary of Fitch Rating, that has projected an APC victory.
Some other polls had put the Labour candidate ahead.
“We maintain our view that the ruling party’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the candidate most likely to win the presidential election as a split opposition vote will favour the APC,” the report stated.
Although the candidate will be worried about the caveat that his emergence may trigger “social instability” over the Muslim/Muslim ticket.
“A win for Tinubu would break with this unwritten tradition and likely fuel sentiment of perceived marginalisation among Christians,” the report reads.
Will Chimaroke Nnamani’s endorsement translates to votes
nce again, the former Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, dropped another glowing tribute to his former colleague, Mr Tinubu.
Mr Nnamani’s past endorsement earned him an “honorary mention” in the old APC presidential campaign council until his name was removed from the reviewed list.
Despite that, in a statement, Mr Nnamani, who is a senatorial candidate under the PDP appears to be in full campaign mode for the APC candidate.
“Tinubu will replicate the successes in Lagos across the country and has the capacity to revamp the economy and make Nigeria work for all,” Mr Nnamani said.
However, it is unclear if this “endorsement” will fetch the APC candidate some votes in Enugu State, a state that has voted PDP since 1999.
But the endorsement may serve the purpose of showing that the main opposition party is in a state of disrepair, particularly in its main stronghold of Southeast.
Keyamo Vs Momodu: A Pigpen fight
ver the past few weeks, Nigerians were treated to some comedy series as the spokesperson of the Tinubu campaign and Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, and Dele Momodu slugged it out in not so spectacular manner.
In the parlance of Twitter, it was a battle of “gbas gbos” and premium “Vawulence”, as both ditched dignity to defend their respective principals.
The first salvo came from Mr Momodu, who accused the APC candidate of appropriating Moshood Abiola’s legacy.
Mr Keyamo responded by calling Mr Momodu a praise singer and “an hyperactive hireling and attack-dog of perhaps the worst serial loser in Nigeria’s electoral history.”
Not to be undone, Mr Momodu fired back by calling the junior minister a “certified nuisance”.
This is definitely not going to be the last mud fight between these men as the campaigns enter full gear.
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