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Put Yoruba interest first — Ex-Afenifere Publicity Secretary tells warring parties

The warring leaders of the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical organisation, Afenifere, have been urged to sheathe their swords and allow peace reign in the overall interest of the Yoruba ethnic group and its progress.

A former National Publicity Secretary of the organisation and former two-term member of the House of Representatives, Chief Babatunde Oduyoye, in a statement issued in Ibadan, called on the leadership of the Afenifere, now divided along the Pa Reuben Fasoranti and Pa Ayo Adebanjo factions, to put the interest of the Yoruba people first at this moment in history.

Oduyoye, who also served as the Minority Whip of the House of Representatives during his tenure in the chamber, spoke against the backdrop of the disagreements within Afenifere over different issues, especially the ambition and eventual victory of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in the February 25 presidential election.

He maintained that it was saddening that leaders, who should be the moral compass of the Yoruba nation, were allowing division in their ranks, warning all sides to cease fire until a common ground can be reached on the issues.

Oduyoye equally called on well-meaning Yoruba elders, traditional rulers and men of reason to wade into the crisis rocking the Afenifere, noting that if allowed to fester, it would end up consuming the organisation and eventually affect the Yoruba nation.

According to Oduyoye, the evil intentions of the enemies of the Yoruba ethnic group, who have always tried to bring down the Afenifere over the years, would materialise unless well-meaning Yoruba leaders rally round to save the organisation.

The former lawmaker equally warned individuals taking sides in the ongoing face-off to desist from fanning the embers of discord within the Afenifere, noting that it was untoward for any Yoruba man to insult elders because of political cleavages.

Oduyoye said, “One has heard and watched with much pain the brickbats and unsavoury attacks within and against the leadership of the Afenifere in the last few weeks and it becomes imperative to wade in.

“I call on all well-meaning Yoruba indigenes, especially our royal fathers and elder statesmen, to rise at this point and bring together the different interests, which now threaten the continued existence of the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere.

“The Afenifere, as a brainchild of Papa Obafemi Awolowo, has fought for the interest of the Yoruba nation at different points in history and it remains the only surviving umbrella body that can unite all Yoruba and protect its interests.

“It will not bode well for the race and its people to allow the differences occasioned by the buildup to and eventual outcome of the just-concluded presidential elections to destroy the legacy of our founding fathers.

“Like it is in every democracy, Afenifere can, and has had disagreements within its fold, but I urge well-meaning Yoruba citizens not to sit idly and watch the Afenifere disintegrate.

“I equally call on individuals fanning the embers of discord by joining sides and insulting our elders in the name of political patronages to desist from such act. It is democratic to disagree and hold different views, but it is unsavoury for young people to denigrate Yoruba elders and leaders.

“For the victories it has won in many battles for and on behalf of the Yoruba people, the Afenifere has earned many enemies within and outside Yoruba land and these enemies have always tried to fight back.

“We must show these enemies that we are stronger than their shenanigans. And now is the most auspicious time for Yoruba leaders to save Afenifere.”

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