Afenifere’s FAUX PAS

THISDAY - - LETTERS - ––Sola Fa­sure and Kunle Owolabi, Osogbo

South West is con­sid­ered the most po­lit­i­cally so­phis­ti­cated re­gion in the coun­try. It is for good rea­son. Ev­ery in­di­vid­ual has the right to be­long to a po­lit­i­cal party of his or her choice. This right comes with the priv­i­lege of hav­ing and ex­press­ing po­lit­i­cal opin­ion and free­dom of po­lit­i­cal as­so­ci­a­tion.

Here ide­ol­ogy plays a vi­tal role in de­cid­ing which po­lit­i­cal group one be­longs to – whether one is a pro­gres­sive or con­ser­va­tive, left or right of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum. The above char­ac­terised the po­lit­i­cal evo­lu­tion of the de­funct Western Re­gion.

And that was the rea­son why the Ac­tion Group (AG) and later the Unity Party of Nige­ria (UPN), both led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, gained promi­nence in the re­gion. All through to the ter­mi­na­tion of the Sec­ond Re­pub­lic, the re­gion was al­ways con­trolled by the pro­gres­sives, ex­cept for the brief and aber­ra­tional in­ter­ludes of the Ladoke Ak­in­tola, the post 1983 far­ci­cal short reign of the Na­tional Party of Nige­ria (NPN) and the 2003-2010 dis­as­trous Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) stran­gle­hold on the re­gion.

With the ad­vent of democ­racy in 1999, ide­ol­ogy seemed to have been jet­ti­soned in the coun­try. This dearth of ide­ol­ogy is no doubt fast af­fect­ing ev­ery group or or­gan­i­sa­tion with a tint of pol­i­tics: Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Arewà Con­sul­ta­tive Fo­rum. Last week, Afenifere, the Yoruba so­cio-po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion, took a some­what bizarre po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion.

In an emer­gency meet­ing it called, the pan-Yoruba or­gan­i­sa­tion is­sued a com­mu­niqué to the ef­fect that it took a de­ci­sion to sus­pend the gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date of the So­cial Demo­cratic Party (SDP) in the Septem­ber 22nd Osun State Gov­er­nor­ship Elec­tion, Sen­a­tor Iyi­ola Omisore.

Omisore's of­fence, ac­cord­ing to Afenifere, was that he formed an al­liance with the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) dur­ing the re-run elec­tion, which paved the way for the APC to win the Osun Gov­er­nor­ship Elec­tion.

The pun­ish­ment for this align­ment with the pro­gres­sive APC in the re-run thus earned Omisore a one-year sus­pen­sion from the or­gan­i­sa­tion's all ac­tiv­i­ties, po­lit­i­cal or so­cial!

What a de­ci­sion! What a pun­ish­ment! But these two ques­tions should not be the only ones which should ag­i­tate the mind of ev­ery true Yoruba son and daugh­ter.

The de­ci­sion by Afenifere ought to be probed deeply to find out why such stand should be taken in the first place and what such de­ci­sion por­tends for the Yoruba na­tion.

This brings to mind a flurry of ques­tions: What did Omisore do in the first place? Next is, what did he do wrong? Is Afenifere say­ing that ev­ery Yoruba must be­long to the or­gan­i­sa­tion's po­lit­i­cal party or po­lit­i­cal party it leans to­wards? Are Afenifere lead­ers say­ing we don't have free­dom to choose and be­long to any po­lit­i­cal party of our choice? These and more should ag­i­tate the minds of Yoruba sons and daugh­ters. Be­cause this was what earned Sen­a­tor Omisore the harsh pun­ish­ment from Afenifere.

Both APC and PDP ap­proached Omisore be­fore the re­run be­cause of his pop­u­lar­ity and cen­tral po­si­tion. They ne­go­ti­ated with him be­cause it was his area of in­flu­ence where two polling units in the re­run elec­tion were lo­cated. He thus ex­er­cised his po­lit­i­cal free­dom to choose which party to align with. That was Omisore’s crime.

We should make no pre­tence about this. Omisore was ham­mered by Afenifere for sup­port­ing APC in the re­run elec­tion of Septem­ber 27. This is rather baf­fling. The elec­toral con­test pit­ted the well-ed­u­cated APC’s Gboyega Oyetola with PDP’s Ade­mola Adeleke.

Oyetola has two de­grees from the Univer­sity of La­gos. He is a suc­cess­ful fi­nan­cial mag­nate and solid mem­ber and fi­nancier of the AD all through its meta­mor­pho­sis to APC. He also had tucked un­der his belt an un­blem­ished eight years pub­lic ser­vice as the Chief of Staff to Osun State Gover­nor, Og­beni Rauf Aregbesola.

Adeleke on the other hand has is­sues with his se­condary school ed­u­ca­tion. It took WAEC’s in­ter­ven­tion in the last minute, which claimed that he in­deed sat for a sin­gle sub­ject in 1981. Even as we speak, he is be­ing pros­e­cuted for ex­am­i­na­tion mal­prac­tices in an Abuja court, an of­fence, the po­lice al­leged, he com­mit­ted just last year.

Eval­u­at­ing the two can­di­dates amounts to com­par­ing an ap­ple with an or­ange. There is re­ally no ba­sis for com­par­ing them. It re­flects the ex­tent to which we have sunk as a na­tion, that a po­lit­i­cal party would field Adeleke as a can­di­date, in the first in­stance.

But that Afenifere would put its weight be­hind such a can­di­date sealed the moral de­gen­er­acy in Yoruba­land.

With this cyn­i­cal de­ci­sion, Afenifere just told us that it prefers Adeleke to oc­cupy that ex­alted gov­er­nor­ship po­si­tion! The same po­si­tion oc­cu­pied by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. What a po­lit­i­cal irony! The same po­si­tion oc­cu­pied by Chief Aji­bola Ige, Chief Bisi Akande, Chief Olabisi On­a­banjo, Al­haji La­teef Jakande, Pro­fes­sor Am­brose Alli, Chief Adekunle Ajasin and Chief Ade­farati.

One is wor­ried that the po­si­tion oc­cu­pied by these em­i­nent per­son­al­i­ties could be of­fered to any­body with no in­tel­lec­tual and ed­u­ca­tional pedi­gree.

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