2023 Presidency: Afenifere, Ohanaeze, ACF, Mid-Belt Forum, PANDEF Join Forces

LAGOS-The major ethnic organisations in the country, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Ohanaeze Ndig­bo, Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), have come together in a common front ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

Daily Independent gathered that the groups, which have been working together to chart a way forward for the nation, may likely form a political party or presithrow their weight behind a dential candidate that is sin­cere about the restructuring of the country. ­

Even though there have always been divisions and a widening gulf between the North and South on the ag­itation for the restructuring of Nigeria, it appears the gap is being closed as the chair­man of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Prof. Ango Abdullahi, earlier this week, said that the North is ready for the restructuring of Ni­geria to make it more viable.

Yinka Odumakin, the Na­tional Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, on Wednesday, confirmed to Daily Indepen­dent that the various ethnic groups had been working together and would contin­ue to do so ahead of the 2023 general elections.

He said: “The groups have been working together and will intensify the harmony in the interest of the badly fractured country towards restructuring.”

When asked if there would be an alternative to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2023 or that Nigeri­ans would be stuck between the two, Odumakin said while both parties were still looming large, other possi­bilities could still spring up between now and 2023 that may change the political con­figuration.

“The two parties still loom large on the horizon, but it does not mean that there are no other possibili­ties that can change the con­figuration dramatically,” he said.

Odumakin also cleared the air on the allegation that Afenifere was sympathetic to the cause of the PDP.

According to him, there is no special deal with the PDP if the APC fields a se­rious candidate that is sin­cere about restructuring the nation.

“If the APC fields a seri­ous candidate on restructur­ing, there is no special deal with the PDP,” he said.

In another development, Odumakin also said that Afenifere had not endorsed Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, na­tional leader of the APC; Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State governor, or any non-Yoru­ba aspirant for the 2023 pres­idency.

Odumakin, who dis­closed this while speaking to an online platform pro­gramme, ‘The Roundtable’, also claimed that the serving Overseer of the Citadel Glob­al Community Church in La­gos, Pastor Tunde Bakare, a former vice-presidential can­didate, still wants to run for president in 2023.

He, however, added that the group had not given sup­port to anyone.

Bakare, in broadcast in his church, had compared Tinubu to Jephthah in the Bible, saying he fought many battles for the Yoruba and “delivered Lagos State and nearly all the South-West states from the onslaught of the PDP from 1999 to 2007”.

However, mixed reactions trailed the message, as many wondered why Bakare, who once spoke against Tinubu, turned around to praise him.

Reacting to the develop­ment, Odumakin said those who have the cathedral right to express views on the pul­pit should be careful of what they say.

“Those who have the cathedral right to express strong views on the pulpits of God and whose words are taken very seriously by their congregation should be care­ful of what they say to those who listen to them,” he said.

He added: “No, there is no doubt that Asiwaju is a leader in Yorubaland but he is not the leader of the Yoru­ba people. To say Asiwaju has done more for the Yoruba people is debatable. You will not earn our support because you are a Yoruba man but we will ex­amine what you stand for.

“We have not given sup­port to anyone at the mo­ment. We are watching those who are interested in the 2023 presidency, including Fayemi, Tinubu, and even Bakare himself and other non-Yoruba people.

“Where each candidate stands on the issue of re­structuring and federalism will determine who gets our support. Afenifere is not afraid to state our support for any candidate and any party.”

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