OpenLife Nigeria has gathered that Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and political organisation, Afenifere, has said it was not desperate to have a Yoruba man as Nigeria’s president in 2023.
The group said it would rather favour a president that emerges from any part of the South.
The group’s position was in contrast with that of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), which said it supported a president of Yoruba extraction.
The two leading Yoruba groups made their positions known during separate interviews on Friday with Saturday Sun, following consultations being made by some APC governors, which was exclusively reported by this newspaper last Saturday.
Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), which is South West Affairs; Mr. Adekunle Olayinka; Special Adviser to Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State on Social Investment Programmes (SIP); Victor Kolade; and Senior Special Assistant to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Adesina Popoola, and Chief Oladipo Oladosu, a frontline politician in Osun State, among others, had met in Ibadan recently under the aegis of Next Level Consolidation Forum, to ensure that South West is rock solid to produce the president for Nigeria in 2023.
They insisted that presidential power must come to the South West in 2023, and the acceptable person that the Yoruba would present for the office would be decided as time progresses.
But in an interview with Saturday Sun, National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Jare Ajayi, said: “First of all, the presidency in 2023 must shift to the Southern part of the country. We insist on that. For whether it should be South East, South South or South West, we want the best person, who will do the job, correct all the anomalies that the country is going through, and ensure that Nigeria move forward to where other countries are in the 21st Century and beyond.
“That is the kind of candidate that we are looking forward to. To be specific, when we get close to that time, we will decide. As far as we are concerned in Afenifere, whoever that emerges as president in 2023, will have problem in running the country if Nigeria is not restructured. There must be serious tinkering with the present structure in such a way that it will be pro-people, rather than how it is now.
“There must be restructuring before 2023. The question of where the president will come from is secondary. But the president must come from the Southern part of this country. What we are running on the country today is more or less a unitary government, which concentrates too much power at the centre. So, we are calling for decentralization and genuine commitment to the rule of law and federalism. We are insisting that these must take place before the 2023 elections.”
Secretary-General, YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide, told Saturday Sun that he would be “very delighted if Nigerians decide to elect our kinsman as president in 2023 for a number of reasons.
“If you look at the landscape of Nigeria, without being immodest, Yoruba people appear to be the most liberal and most accommodating in Nigeria. Traditionally, Yoruba culture is that at all times, we must do what is right and you must insist on fairness and equity for all.”
Olajide stated further that the APC governors that have been making consultations should let the council know what they are doing. He added that the Yoruba that are interested in contesting for president in 2023 should come out clearly and declare their intention. This, he said, would allow the council to lend its weight to it.
“Of course, we will support it if we are all of the opinion and believe that the person has a national clout to emerge as president and to be embraced by all parts of this country. But we want to know who are the Yoruba people that are showing interests.
Olajide also commented on the preference of the council between restructuring and the election. “Personally, and I know that is going to be the opinion of the council. We prefer restructuring or having a brand new constitution, because whoever emerges as president will have idiosyncrasies. But the constitution is the grundnorm on which he has to work.
“The preference of every Nigerian, in my humble opinion, should now be true federalism, at least limit human frailties of whoever emerges as president. But election is a matter of the constitution. We will have the election in 2023 by God’s grace.”