*’Why we back Asiwaju despite our reservations about APC
By Kennedy Mbele
Ahead of the next general elections, 121 Yoruba groups, last week, converged in Lagos under what they called ‘the 2023 Declaration’ to decide on which presidential candidate to support.
There are three front runners in the election viz: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr. Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP).
Afenifere, the influential group from the South-West where Tinubu hails from, is supporting Obi from the South-East on the grounds that South-West has produced the President before and currently has someone from the zone occupying the Vice President’s office whereas the South-East has never been President since 1999 when Nigeria began the fourth republic.
The 121 Yoruba groups adopted Tinubu as their candidate for the 2023 presidential election notwithstanding their reservations about his party, the APC.
The groups, operating under Alliance of Yoruba Democratic Movement, AYDM, also declared the said election as another ‘Kiriji War’, saying it has appointed no fewer than 150, 000 people as campaign volunteers in the South-West region.
In the declaration, titled ‘Historic Declaration of Social, Cultural, Civil Society Groups in the South-West’ and unveiled in Lagos on Thursday when they converged at St. Leo Catholic Church, Ikeja, Lagos, AYDM narrated the country’s political history since the 1914 amalgamation and alleged that presidential candidates had always been imposed on the electorate.
The alliance, specifically, pointed out that the late Chief MKO Abiola and the late Alhaji Bashir Tofa, both candidates in the June 12, 1999 presidential election were imposed on Nigerians in the 1993 poll.
AYDM also observed that democracy has become a commodity to be purchased by the highest bidder, stressing that they chose to support Asiwaju for the 2023 election because he is “near the prospect of allaying the fears of the Yoruba as a people”.
It described APC as a better party but not the best.
The alliance words: “The APC has immense contradictions and should not be seen as an end in itself. Within the context of the Nigerian political framework and, given the options available to the people, the APC is better but not the best”.
Earlier in his speech, guest speaker, Chief Segun Ajibulu, lamented what he described as previous betrayals of Yoruba leaders by their kinsmen.
According to him, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the late Chief MKO Abiola, former President Olusegun Obasanjo among other Yoruba leaders had, at various times, suffered betrayal by fellow Yoruba.
He wondered when the tribe will unite.
Ajibulu extolled Tinubu’s political sagacity, but regretted that those who the APC leader raised from nothing to something are now his political enemies, trying to pull him down.
The guest speaker said Tinubu’s presidential ambition could result to another ‘Kiriji War’, stressing that the ‘war’ will be fought politically and without bloodshed.
‘Kiriji war’ was fought between Ibadan and Ekitis following what the Ekitis described as oppression by the Ibadan people.
His words: “Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the reason for another ‘Kiriji War’ in 2023, but it will be a political war, without bloodshed”
Ajibulu, who is also the President, South-West Professional Forum, explained that AYDM will embark on sensitizing the Yoruba and other Nigerians on whom Asiwaju really is, and the need to vote him into power.
He added that voters are expected to vote for individuals, not political parties, because, according to him, all the political parties are the same, explaining that politicians leave party A and join party B, and vice versa, at will.
Members of AYDM include South-West Professional Forum, South-West Progressives Peoples Movement, Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC New Era), Covenant Group, South Hunters’ Union, Oodua Tailors’ Union and Oodua Peoples’ Congress (Reformed).
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