….. As Afenifere Expresses Full Support For Akeredolu, Says South Not Against North
The pan Yoruba socio-political organisanisation, Afenifere, has expressed full support for the position of Southern Governors’ Forum (SGF) on the need for power to shift to the South come 2023 as reiterated by its Chairman, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu last Tuesday February 8, while hosting members of the Power Shift Movement who visited him in his office in Akure, capital of Ondo State.
The expression of support was contained in a Release issued by the National Publicity of Afenifere, Comrade Jare Ajayi, following the criticism of Akeredolu by Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG).
Governor Akeredolu had reiterated the position of the Southern Governors that the presidency must shift to the southern part of the country in 2023. He went further to say that any political party that fields a northern candidate for the 2023 will fail.
Spokespersons of ACF and CNG, Mr Emmanuel Yawe and Mr Abul-Azeez Suleiman however descended heavily on the governor in their separate statements on Wednesday. The Coalition of Northern Group even insinuated alleged hatred for the north.
But Ajayi dismissed ACF and CNG’s vilifications, saying that the governor’s position is in line with that of the ethnic nationalities, particularly in the four zones in the country, namely South West, Middle Belt, South East and the South South.
It would be recalled that Governor Akeredolu had said that any political party that fields a northern presidential candidate will fail while hosting the Power Shift Movement in his office in Akure, capital of Ondo State on Tuesday. The Movement was led to the governor by its leader, Dr. Pogu Bitrus and co-chair, General Collins Ihekire (rtd).
According to the governor, “In about two or three meetings, we (governors) have come out and declared that power must move to the south.”
But the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) had, on Wednesday, condemned Akeredolu for this position. According to ACF spokesperson, Emmanuel Yawe, Akeredolu’s assertion amounted to a threat that was unacceptable to them in ACF.
Another group, Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) toed the same line as contained in a statement by its spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman.
But a release issued by Afenifere stated that Akeredolu’s declaration reflected the desire of the majority of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria particularly those in the four geo-political zones, Middle Belt, South West, South East and the South South as represented by their respective organisations. The organisations were Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Ohaneze NdIgbo and Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) who collectively formed the South and Middle Belt Leadership Forum (SMBLF). They were all represented at the meeting with Governor Akeredolu. They were there along with Comrade Kennedy Iyere, co-ordinator of the Power Shift Movement and the 40 Million Ballot – an important component of the Power Shift Movement.
According to the Release, Governor Akeredolu is very much in line with the position of the SMBLF as further reiterated at its recent meeting in Abuja where all political parties in the country were urged to field candidates of southern extraction for the purpose of 2023 presidential election.
“Governor Akeredolu spoke our minds when he said that ‘only a party that is determined to lose will field a northern candidate” the release stated adding that this position was very much in line with the resolution of the SMBLF as reiterated at its last meeting held in house of its national Leader, Pa Edwin Clark.
Afenifere advised both the ACF and CNG to purge themselves of the notion that some people, particularly the South, hate the North.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us. The path we are treading is the one that will foster unity, fairness and harmonious relationship. As succinctly put by Governor Akeredolu, what we, along with the southern governors, stand for “is fair and equitable power rotation. The only fair thing is that after eight years in the North, Presidency should come to the south.
Reflecting the feelings of the ethnic nationalities’ group, Afenifere spokesman urged ACF and CNG to prevail on those within its midst whose utterances and actions are threatening the unity of the country. He mentioned the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Babazango, who allegedly threatened violent attack against Mr Vincent Umeh for buying property near his house in Adamawa State. Babazango is from Adamawa State while Umeh is from the South East.
Ajayi said that it is a matter of great concern that a public officer in the rank of a DCP who is living in Lagos, South West, could be threatening violence against a fellow Nigerian for buying a property near his own simply because he is from the southern part of the country.
“If every other person insisted on having only a fellow tribesman or woman as his/her neighbour, how are we going to have the much desired unity in the country?”
It would be recalled that a viral video shows Babazango, who is currently attached to the Lagos State Police Command, as reportedly infuriated on learning that an Igboman is his new neighbour having bought a property near his own. The property is located at 33, Mohammed Mustapha Way, Opposite Ford Oil, Yola, in Adamawa. The incident has also been widely reported particularly by online media.