For the first time in almost two decades, Yoruba mainstream Afenifere groups have scheduled a meeting for Ibadan, on Thursday. Afenifere witnessed its first major division in 1999 and its second in2004. The group is currently split into Afenifere and Afenifere Renewal Group, (ARG)
Sources told IrohinOodua that the summit will be chaired by Senator Banji Akintoye, 81, a professor of history, a confidant of late Obafemi Awolowo who left the country on exile in 1991 for the United States. Prof Akintoye was a Senator under the Unity Party of Nigeria, (UPN) from 1979 to 1983 before the government was overthrown by the then General Mohammadu Buhari and Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon.
A source said the kidnap of former Presidential aspirant, Chief Olu Falae, a member of Afenifere was one of the impetuses that spurred the meeting. This is apart from the fact that the emergence of Buhari, in spite of the critical role played by the Yoruba people, has seen the resurgence of Fulani hegemony disguised in the form of a renaissance to reclaim Nigerian’s economic and political decline.
“Many Yoruba people feel that kidnap of the old man is a bad signal and shows the necessity for the unity of the Yoruba Nation. Can you imagine Agbekoya kidnapping a Northern leader and keeping the same leader in the heart of the North and also asking for ransom.?” The sourced claimed that other considerations centre on the threat posed by Boko Haram and what he called the “contempt for restructuring of Nigeria by the new Fulani leadership of Nigeria.”
“The meeting is aimed at uniting the mainstream Yoruba people. This task will be achieved greatly if the two Afenifere groups are united. I think the region is coming to realize that they either stand in unity or fall in disunity” Dr Mobolaji Ojo, an official of O’odua National Coalition (ONAC) who is privy to the summit told IrohinOodua.
He hinted that the Yoruba leaders expected at the summit will be drawn from Afenifere and the splinter group, Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG). Prominent leaders expected at the summit are chief Olanihun Ajayi, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Hon Wale Osun, General Alani Akinrinade, Mr Ayo Afolabi, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Senator Sola Adeyeye and the governors of the six southwest states. The Itsekiri, IrohinOodua was told will be represented by Chief (Mrs) Rita Lori Ogbebor, Chief Fred Agbeyegbe and Dr Lucky Akaruse.
Afenifere split into two sharply opposed groups around 2004 following which the ARG was formed. The two groups have been at longer heads and have tried to outdo each other in electoral politics. While the Governor of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun support ARG, Ondo state is said to have aligned with Afenifere controlled largely by some of the first generation of Afenifere, established since 1948. Another source said the summit is concerned about the fanctionalisation of the Yoruba Nation and the absence of a commanding structure even as the future of the country flounders.