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.”