Between APC, PDP and Afenifere’s 2019 Pitch of Tent
Afenifere, the Pan Yoruba Socio-Cultural group has always been a consistently veritable, vocal and focused group in terms of their desire and actions to protect and process what they believe is the suitable need of their Yoruba people in the Nigerian entity. Their belief perhaps stems from the fact that democracy is not totally protective of minority aspirations; rather it could be a tyranny of the majority no matter how uneducated or shallow the majority.
Universal democracy that is successful in largely literate societies has its demerits in largely illiterate societies such as where 7.3 % or 13.2 million out of a population of 180 million are out of school children not to talk of millions of farmers, artisans, labourers that are illiterates. Literacy creates access to financial freedom which culminates in political freedom to vote for one’s conscience in a democracy. Education is no longer compelled, it is free on politicians’ lips, yet many other millions of our population are dangerously half baked.
Where politicians play dirty games, pressure groups are desirable to keep the polity on its toes towards good goals. Various pressure groups have been performing these roles many times most credibly and enduringly. Afenifere had even sometimes stooped to conquer.
It is therefore interesting to hear that Afenifere has waded into significant national issues and have made their stand un-equivocally known. In debates on herdsmen-farmers conflicts, restructuring of Nigeria, National unity, Yoruba cohesion; one would find them there, to press against oppression and avoidable suffering.
With the conclusion of primaries by most political parties in Nigeria, particularly those of the ruling party – APC and their main challenger – PDP from which the ruling party took power three and half years ago, the battle lines have been drawn. Although the start of the campaign is yet to be authorized by the National Electoral body – INEC, unofficial political fists are jabbed and nocturnal meetings held here and there by many political parties under one guise or the other.
For example the debate on herdsmen-farmers conflict has turned campaign slur. The major paper was by Prof Daniel Musa Agary entitled; “Towards an enduring peace: Practical approaches to ending Farmers – Herders conflict.” But when APC National leader – Ahmed ‘Bola Tinubu’s diagnosed, prescribed and offered prognoses on the conflict during a debate held at Abuja and organized by The Nation’s Newspaper and TV Continental, the Afenifere group would not leave Tinubu’s comment to go un-responded.
The spokesman of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, rejected the position of Tinubu who they alleged endorsed Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association stand. The Afenifere had further alleged that Tinubu’s stance tend to endorse the conversion of the entire open spaces in the country into cattle colony. The group bitingly implored him “not to play politics with peoples’ lives.” They said the APC leader’s proposal was unacceptable.
But Tinubu, through his media aide; Mr. Sunday Dare, angrily denied the allegations and rebuffed by alleging Afenifere spokesperson of; “selective amnesia …” and demanded that Afenifere should “..caution himself from self-righteousness and displaying in full glare anarchical emotions..” The media aide further explained that what his boss spoke about had a context and did not mention Southwest in particular. Analysts would see the tango of the tongues in volumes, including a suggestion of how hard Tinubu might have been disturbed by Afenifere’s harshness to his well-meaning contribution.
Meanwhile on restructuring, the Afenifere group told newsmen that they would mobilize support for political parties that show interest in restructuring the nation within the context of a united Nigeria. This view was expressed to the media when the group paid a return visit to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerias’ former President, Tuesday 10th October 2018. They are yet to pitch their tent with a political party on this issue.
But before the group pitches its tent, they need to look into the traps in the promises made by various politicians. APC is yet to make any categorical statement on restructuring since they last set up El Rufai committee on restructuring who had submitted a report early quarter of the year but of which APC has not taken a decision. As for the PDP, their Presidential candidate; Alhaji Abubakar Atiku has been dangling the lusters of restructuring to attract followers. The cleverness of politicians generally should caution everyone to look into the details of what politicians would vaguely offer.
For example, item no. 5 of Atiku’s Six Simple Steps to Restructuring offered to replace State of Origin with State of Residence in official and daily transactions. This is dangerous and would be unhelpful to protect demographically disadvantaged tribes or groups in the country. Besides, it will impact negatively on our national security where non-Nigerians could permanently infiltrate and feign Nigeria’s nationality more so that Nigerian languages are spoken across our porous borders.
This is important because Nigeria does not consist of Economically, Educationally, or “Mineral-ly” disadvantaged groups alone but also of demographically disadvantaged groups. A situation whereby the demographically advantaged groups purporting the freedom to settle permanently anywhere in the country could over time wipe out demographically disadvantaged tribes from their natural settings. This should be prevented and demographically disadvantaged group protected.
The aforementioned fears were also felt by some of our founding fathers and this pervade the nation till today. For example, one of the founding fathers of Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikwe in a lecture at the Princess Alexandra Auditorium at the University of Nigeria in 1964 and recorded by Black Past Organization said that Tribalism is a pragmatic Instrument for National Unity. This, if carefully refined into any intended restructuring, could turn into our solutions for political peace and stability rather than treating it as an anathema.
Disclaimer; The above is the opinion of the writer and not that of this organization.