Countering the revisionist perspective on Afenifere

Men and women who fail to see the contrived fractured dismemberment of Afenifere or the sponsored counterfeiting of the Yoruba people’s political consciousness flagship as the death knell of the people’s just struggle for socio-economic and political progress are beyond the pale. They seem to be ignoring the bounds of good foresight or judgement in civilised company.

Political expediency has tended to becloud or cause visual confusion respecting what true Afenifere is. Though many members of Afenifere continue to uphold the cherished values of its founding fathers, the cheap allure of the conservative neo-liberal policies of the Tinubu school has drawn many not-well-heeled members into apostasy.

Illusory or deceptive baits are thrown at members of Afenifere every election cycle just to weaken the body’s bastion and capture its essence. Such was the confusion regarding Afenifere that the ordinary people have been subjected to optical illusion rigour just to distinguish which Afenifere was saying what.

Over time however, the cloud started clearing as one side was identified with a clear and sustained campaign for restructuring, a strident clamour for ethical governance, a studious denunciation of the failure of hard-worn economic and social policies and programmes, and of the gaping lapses in the security architecture.

The other Afenifere (which clothed itself in various deceptive appellation and garb e.g. Afenifere Renewal Group, Afenifere Justice Group, Afenifere Revisited ProMax, etc) mainly supported the status quo and egged on the government whatever it was doing.

Since 2003, the Tinubu group has continued to raid the membership on the nominal roll of Afenifere, chipping off from time to time bits and pieces of persons whose participation in the organisation has been nominal or tangential.

Thankfully, Afenifere is generally perceived as the socio-political and moral compass of the people. Its socio-political philosophy of social welfarism resonates with the people and has engendered popular support for it since its founding in 1951.

A glibly-worded announcement some few days ago informing the public of a putative reorganisation of Afenifere was perceived by the people as another in the series of plots to further confuse or confound them regarding the orchestrated attempt to hijack, kidnap, abduct and run away with the people’s totem.

Many concerned members of the public started reaching out for clarification of a matter they consider distractive to Afenifere’s principled stance and forward movement. They sensed immediately where the stench was coming from. They recognise that their Afenifere could not cavalierly abandon its steeped social welfare policies to embrace a stifling neo-liberal configuration.

They identified immediately that the formulators and executors of the policy to raise fuel prices by 300 per cent thereby deepening poverty and hardship cannot be the authentic Afenifere; that a group which explains away the unfeeling or insensitive purchase of N160 million vehicles for its members in the midst of pervasive grinding poverty and lack is a poor imitation of the Afenifere they know.

It is instructive to observe that Afenifere is a descriptive name of the followers of Awolowo’s prescription of Social Democratic economic and social left of centre approach to governance as well as to moral and ethical practices in governance. Afenifere is partisan to the extent that it has always had to profess preferred political objectives or options. Anyone familiar with the story of the struggle to take over or subdue Afenifere will recall that it is a trend that always recurs at every four-year election cycle.

When late Chief Adekunle Ajasin passed on the baton of Afenifere leadership to late Senator Abraham Adesanya he, in turn, named at his retirement, Chief Fasoranti as the new helmsman. Certain tails started wagging as to the truth value of the seamless handover. Adesanya’s subsequent public statement was to confirm to the press at a press conference that the signature appointing Fasoranti was his. Alliance for Democracy (AD) governors including Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and late Senator Biyi Durojaiye had alleged that the letter was forged.

Afenifere leaders stood solidly behind Fasoranti. Chief Olaniwun Ajayi and Chief Ayo Adebanjo are noted as the arrowheads of the vanguard to give clear expression to the will of Afenifere. They stood for order and discipline within the fold. The Tinubu group had a counterpoise in late Senator Fasanmi and championing him as the rightful successor to Adesanya.

Fasoranti continued to run the affairs of Afenifere in the best tradition of the organisation’s policies and programmes and to the best of his own ability. However in a letter under his hand to Afenifere he sought the convenience of the body to retire citing old age as his reason. He named Chief Ayo Adebanjo as a worthy successor. Fasoranti’s own chief defect was a creeping lack of enthusiasm due to old age. There was nothing much of the crusader in him. He was becoming cynical but thankfully calm and humorous.

He was certain however that Adebanjo would be a courageous leader of Afenifere who would not truckle or fawn to the interests of persons whose purpose or interests are tangential to the main thrust of Afenifere or who do not understand the definite purpose and direction of the organisation.

As Adebanjo has not been found pliable or agreeable to a Yoruba irredentist justification for a slot at the presidency, Fasoranti was thought a tool for achieving the contrary goal.  Fasoranti was drafted from retirement and his audience sought for conveying to him the resolve of ‘several Yoruba groups’ to adopt him as the Leader of the Yoruba. He was deemed the only leader with the ‘temperament to unite the Yoruba’ – a quality its proponents posited was urgently needed in the polity.

Fasoranti’s concurrence was also sought for holding Afenifere meetings in his Akure premises under his aegis. The old man declined and directed that Adebanjo’s nominated place should continue to be the venue of meetings as he (Fasoranti) was no longer the Leader sequel to his retirement from the leadership of Afenifere and from the affairs of state. The gentleman that he is, he periodically kept Adebanjo informed about the behind-the-scene schemings of the organisation’s detractors.

The Akure meeting of the other day is one in a long string of the attempt of a projected abduction or kidnap of Afenifere. As the beautiful bride has been refusing the erstwhile stealthy advances of the suitor, the old mischievous ploy of “charge at, grab and run away” with the prize is now resorted to.

But the Afenifere ethos is in oppositional relationship to the greed, avarice, irredentism, etc of the pretenders to the crown of Afenifere. Probity, tolerance, forthrightness, altruism, equality of treatment, justice, equity and fair play are the enduring values of Afenifere.

Rotimi-John, is the Deputy General Secretary of Afenifere, a lawyer and commentator on public affairs, wrote via:

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