2023: Makinde backs Yoruba agenda as Afenifere endorses Tinubu in Akure
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s chance of winning the 2023 general election has received yet another blow after Oyo state Governor Seyi Makinde’s declaration that he supports the latest position of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere.
Afenifere on Sunday declared support for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, as leaders of the organisation endorsed his presidential bid in Ondo. During the meeting, Mr Makinde was represented by his deputy, Adebayo Lawal, who stated that his principal pledged full support to the decision of the group.
“Every time there is an important occasion or decision in the Afenifere or any other committee in Yoruba land, Engineer Makinde has always given his input. We are not bonded by a political party but by tribal brotherhood. And he has sent me here to inform you that he endorses whatever your decision is,” Mr Lawal said.
The meeting supported the candidacy of Mr Tinubu, as the former leader of the Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, prayed for his success at the polls. The meeting was attended by several Yoruba nationals, including Olu Falae, Olu Bajowa, former Chief of Army Staff Alani Akinrinade, Bisi Akande, and Cornelius Adebayo.
The governor of Ekiti State, Biodun Oyebanji, deputy governor of Ondo state, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, former minister Musiliu Obanikoro and other political figures were also present.
Afenifere leaders who took part in the meeting included Seinde Arogbofa and Abagun Omololu. Pa Ayo Adebanjo, the current leader of the Yoruba group, was absent from the meeting. He had previously endorsed Peter Obi for president next year.
Today’s development could tear Afenifere apart, as it appeared to amplify fissures within the group ahead of 2023 general elections. Mr Fasoranti, 96, stepped down in 2021 for Mr Adebanjo, 94, after expressing concerns about his ability to continue leading the group.
Until now, both leaders have played mutual roles in the party’s internal affairs and political direction for the Yoruba. A spokesman for the group did not immediately return a request seeking comments about whether or not the conflicting decisions by Messrs Adebanjo and Fasoranti to endorse Messrs Obi and Tinubu, respectively, have effectively divided Afenifere as a unified pressure group for the Yoruba.
Mr Makinde’s implicit endorsement of Mr Tinubu came as the governor was locked in a protracted disagreement with Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the opposition PDP. Mr Makinde has publicly backed Governor Nyesom Wike as the Rivers governor continued to demand concessions, including the dismissal of party chairman Iyorchia Ayu, from the opposition party.
Mr Wike has threatened to work against Mr Abubakar, and reports already said he was in talks with Mr Tinubu to endorse the APC candidate for president, together with Mr Makinde and other PDP loyalists.