Afenifere’s faux pas and the dearth of ideology


South-West is considered the most politically sophisticated region in the country. This 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.
At an emergency meeting it called, the pan-Yoruba organisation issued a communiqué in which it announced the suspension of the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the September 22 governorship election of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore.
Omisore’s offence, according to Afenifere, was that he formed an alliance with the All Progressive Congress (APC) during the re-run election, which paved the way for 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 all the organisation’s, 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 would 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 Yorubas don’t have the freedom to choose and belong to any political party of their choice? These and more should agitate the minds of Yoruba sons and daughters. Because this was what earned Senator Omisore the punishment from Afenifere.
Both APC and PDP approached Omisore before the rerun because of his popularity and central position. They negotiated with him because two polling units in the rerun election were located in his area of influence. He thus exercised his political freedom to choose which party to align with. That was Omisore’s sin.
We should make no pretence about this. Omisore was hammered by Afenifere for not supporting PDP’s Ademola Adeleke 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 a solid and financial member of the Alliance for Democracy (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 in which he got an F9, for him to be able to contest the election. 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.
Worse still, Adeleke is not associated with any profession or means of livelihood, other than living on his family fortune. He cannot freely express himself in the English language and nobody has seen any article or socio-political advocacy he has ever made anywhere. His public profile is that of a hedonist, best known for his lewd dance steps.
Evaluating the two candidates amounts to comparing an apple with an orange, an orange rotten at its core, for that matter. 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 Onabanj, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Professor Ambrose Alli, Chief Adekunle Ajasin and Chief Adefarati.
One is sickly worried that the position occupied by these eminent personalities could be offered to anybody, just anybody with no moral, social, intellectual and educational pedigree of any of these titans.
This should be the second fall of man as demonstrated by Afenifere (the first was Adams in the Garden of Eden). We certainly must be approaching the end of the world.
Sadly, Afenifere threw its weight behind President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 General election as opposed to Muhammadu Buhari, who joined forces with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other progressives to rescue Nigeria from the PDP evil regime.
We know also that Chief Olu Falae, one of the leaders of Afenifere, is also the founder of SDP, the party under which Omisore contested, after he left PDP. If Omisore’s decision did not go down well with him, it would have been understandable if he tackled him at the party level. When has SDP’s affair become a pan-Yoruba affair?
But this is just tangentially about Omisore. It is in the main about the moral degeneracy of Yoruba leadership, not being able to stand for anything principled, moral, idealistic and ethical. Afenifere’s alignment with PDP is therefore an unimaginable embarrassment to us the younger folks and, Chief Obafemi Awolowo must be turning in his grave on how his associates have been prostituting with the association that was the main identity of the Yoruba race.

•Fasure and Owolabi write from Osogbo

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