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  • SOLA EBISENI: Afenifere and 2022 [Opinion]

    Posted by David Nwachukwu on February 1, 2022 at 5:28 am

    THE first meeting of the Afenifere in 2022 was held on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, where the Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, set the year’s agenda for the organisation. Excerpts from the speech have been reported in the media with different interpretations of many of the issues raised, particularly on Sunday Igboho, Nnamdi Kanu and the 2023 elections. The full text of the speech which, to all intents and purposes, is an address to the Nigerian state, is reproduced hereunder:

    To God be the Glory who has counted us worthy of witnessing a new year. There is no doubt that the year 2022 is a most momentous one in the history of our country, particularly bearing in mind the imminent change of government in 2023. This reality imposes a high level of responsibility on Afenifere and like other organisations which believe that the country cannot move forward on the mind-set of business – as usual.THE first meeting of the Afenifere in 2022 was held on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, where the Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, set the year’s agenda for the organisation. Excerpts from the speech have been reported in the media with different interpretations of many of the issues raised, particularly on Sunday Igboho, Nnamdi Kanu and the 2023 elections. The full text of the speech which, to all intents and purposes, is an address to the Nigerian state, is reproduced hereunder:

    To God be the Glory who has counted us worthy of witnessing a new year. There is no doubt that the year 2022 is a most momentous one in the history of our country, particularly bearing in mind the imminent change of government in 2023. This reality imposes a high level of responsibility on Afenifere and like other organisations which believe that the country cannot move forward on the mind-set of business – as usual.Afenifere in historical perspectives: The role of Afenifere in the Nigerian federation has been defined inexorably from its inception in 1951. It is emphatically to set agenda for progressive governance and intervene decisively in ensuring life abundant for her citizens.

    We may not have succeeded momentarily all of the time because of the strong and daunting contending reactionary forces, we have most of the time been pivotal and irresistible in setting the pace, which ideas once hurriedly rejected always returned to as the pillar of the corner piece.

    Afenifere in historical perspectives: The role of Afenifere in the Nigerian federation has been defined inexorably from its inception in 1951. It is emphatically to set agenda for progressive governance and intervene decisively in ensuring life abundant for her citizens.

    We may not have succeeded momentarily all of the time because of the strong and daunting contending reactionary forces, we have most of the time been pivotal and irresistible in setting the pace, which ideas once hurriedly rejected always returned to as the pillar of the corner piece. On a number of instances when our views have been enviously rebuffed, the nation has either stagnated or moved only disastrously against the irresistible forces of dialectical materialism, the realisation of which always dictate the well thought-out and principled position of Afenifere.

    Afenifere as a political party: Each time I insist that Afenifere is a political party, I seem to be misunderstood by both members or non-members who see political parties only in the context of a contest for power and forming a government. While this may be the ultimate goal of politicians, it does not detract from the fact that the more noble role of a political party is nation-building which is an arduous process involving statesmen bound and bonded by well-defined principles beyond the ephemeral passion for periodic rituals of change of personnel in government.On a number of instances when our views have been enviously rebuffed, the nation has either stagnated or moved only disastrously against the irresistible forces of dialectical materialism, the realisation of which always dictate the well thought-out and principled position of Afenifere.

    Afenifere as a political party: Each time I insist that Afenifere is a political party, I seem to be misunderstood by both members or non-members who see political parties only in the context of a contest for power and forming a government. While this may be the ultimate goal of politicians, it does not detract from the fact that the more noble role of a political party is nation-building which is an arduous process involving statesmen bound and bonded by well-defined principles beyond the ephemeral passion for periodic rituals of change of personnel in government.I make bold to say that the philosophy behind the formation of the Action Group (Afenifere) was to give direction to the emerging Nigerian state on the form of government best suited for its diverse ethnic nationalities and a polyglot composition. We opted for federalism after rigorous internal research and debate by our founding fathers and based on conviction and principles to convince our fellow Nigerian nationalists and even self-opinionated and arrogant colonialists.

    We were deliberately maligned, called such names as Pakistanists, separatists and tribalists by those who did not have the discipline of deep intellectual analysis of the structural and human composition of Nigerian and the type of government most suitable. There were those who saw themselves ready-made to lead or govern the budding Nigerian state and, therefore, from that personal connotations, saw federalism as an attempt to reduce their influence.

    I make bold to say that the philosophy behind the formation of the Action Group (Afenifere) was to give direction to the emerging Nigerian state on the form of government best suited for its diverse ethnic nationalities and a polyglot composition. We opted for federalism after rigorous internal research and debate by our founding fathers and based on conviction and principles to convince our fellow Nigerian nationalists and even self-opinionated and arrogant colonialists.

    We were deliberately maligned, called such names as Pakistanists, separatists and tribalists by those who did not have the discipline of deep intellectual analysis of the structural and human composition of Nigerian and the type of government most suitable. There were those who saw themselves ready-made to lead or govern the budding Nigerian state and, therefore, from that personal connotations, saw federalism as an attempt to reduce their influence. There were also those forced to agree with the Action Group only because they reckoned that federalism would allow them to keep and protect their feudal interests within the territory carved out for them by the British colonialists. Invariably, our founding fathers saw reason to agree with us and adopt federalism as its foundational article of faith.

    While it is true that in spite of our struggles, Nigeria was handed over to those least prepared for its governance, the ideals of true federalism, which we championed, ensured the autonomy of the regions and our opportunity to showcase incomparable good governance in the Western Region in the fullness of time. The point being made is that the fundamental motivation of Afenifere has always been the desire and resolve for the common good of which political power is only an added benefit and not vice versa.

    Thus, at every critical stage of Nigeria political development, the voice of reason, wisdom and courage, with which Afenifere has been associated over the years, has never been less strident or unequivocal, even if we have to stand alone initially, in a nation driven by political lucre and its appurtenant social evils.

    When the young country was confronted with the avarice of political conquest of the regions by the entrenched feudal philosophy in the centre, the Action Group not only stoutly resisted it but also mobilised minority ethnic nationalities in the original three regions in search of a true federal state where no particular region would be dominant. We were the pioneer advocates of the creation of states in the Calabar-Ogoja and Rivers Provinces in the East, Ilorin, Plateau, Adamawa and Borno in the North and Mid West in the West to make the states not so small as to be helpless and swallowed by the centre.

    We demonstrated that by giving the necessary impetus for the creation of the Midwest Region while the other regions saw that as a weapon to weaken us and protect the territorial integrity of their own two other regions which were by far more heterogeneous. The shenanigans of the oppression of the minorities, corruption and electoral malpractices which we fought against but revelled by the government at the centre, eventually brought the First Republic to its knees.

    Afenifere as the incubator of political actors: The struggle for a return to constitutional democracy anchored on True Federalism has been the hallmark of Afenifere politics since the end of the civil war in 1970.

    In the Second Republic, despite the rigging out of our leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in the presidential election, he nonetheless demonstrated the highest level of patriotism and commitment to the ideals of nation-building and at a time painfully warned of the danger awaiting them rudderless drifting of the ship of state under the Shagari government. The prophecy was not long in fulfilment soon thereafter.

    In spite of the known opposition of Chief MKO Abiola to the presidential aspirations of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Afenifere, under the leadership of Chief Adekunle Ajasin, played unmatched roles in the Social Democratic Party on which platform Abiola was elected president. We led the rest of the nation in resisting the annulment of the result of the election by the Babangida military junta.

    One of the aftermath of Afenifere resistance was the emergence of candidates only of South West origin as presidential candidates of the two dominant parties which brought Chief Olusegun Obasanjo back as President of Nigeria in 1999.

    It was an objective reality, but panicky reaction to the struggle of Afenifere for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference which the military feared might lead to the disintegration of the Nigerian state. I assert with all authority at my command that all political actors since then, particularly of the South West extraction, are products of the Afenifere/NADECO struggle.

    Afenifere and restructuring: The nobility of Afenifere principle was accentuated by the fact that the emergence of a Yoruba person as president never deterred us from the pursuit of the ideal of restructuring. It was, therefore, not by accident that the Jonathan administration appointed one of our leaders, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, as Chairman of the Presidential Committee that midwife the 2014 National Conference.

    The strong roles of Afenifere in conjunction with leaders of other nationalities make the report of the Conference the reference point in the definition and struggles for restructuring today. The Report of the Committee is the minimum template for restructuring and moving Nigeria forward.

    Agenda for 2022: Let me salute you all for keeping the flag of Afenifere flying and its torch glowing in illuminating the path of restructuring the Nigerian state. We shall not depart therefrom in spite of the pressure of political actors to the contrary who fail to realise that not even the emergence of a saint can move this country forward on the current constitution and structure.

    To this end, we shall maintain our stand as follows:

    Afenifere shall remain committed to its traditional roles of ensuring that Nigeria shall only be governed under a true federal constitution which guarantees the autonomy of the constituent groups, security and freedom of all citizens.

    The restructuring of the Nigerian state before the 2023 general elections which is achievable through the adoption of Reports of the 2014 National Conference and the 2018 Malam El-Rufai Committee of the APC on True Federalism with harmonious modifications.

    On the terrible state of insecurity and as part of the restructuring agenda we shall continue to insist that the Federal Government immediately ensure the introduction of State Police equipped with requisite means to enhance the security of the states and the federation ultimately. The performance of the Amotekun Security Network in the South West, in conjunction and collaboration with the Nigeria Police, has shown clearly that all the criticisms against State Police as an inseparable component of true federalism, are unfounded and self-serving.

    We declare Chief Sunday Adeyemo (Igboho) a prisoner of conscience and call on all men and women of a good conscience, particularly the international community, to which human rights and freedom are an abiding faith, to prevail on the governments of Nigeria and the Republic of Benin to release Igboho forthwith. The Federal Government shall also pay to Igboho damages awarded him by the court consequent upon the savage attack on his person and property.

    In like manner, we shall insist that the Federal Government should release Nnamdi Kanu whose purported trial by the government is a ruse to keep him in detention only for a mere vulgar abuse of President Buhari and members of his government as admitted by the President in his recent interview with the Channels Television.

    The escalation of insecurity, even in his absence and where he has no access to any means of communication, is an eloquent testimony that Kanu is being held vicariously culpable for the crimes of other people, which is unacceptable in criminal jurisprudence.

    Conclusion: In conclusion, let me assure you all that, as leaders, we appreciate your commitments and sacrifice towards keeping the fire of progressivism burning. For those whose focus is political gains, let me also assure you, from the abundance of learning, research and personal experience, of over 70 years, that only from the pursuit of the common good is individual benefit ensured, guaranteed and enduring.There were also those forced to agree with the Action Group only because they reckoned that federalism would allow them to keep and protect their feudal interests within the territory carved out for them by the British colonialists. Invariably, our founding fathers saw reason to agree with us and adopt federalism as its foundational article of faith.

    While it is true that in spite of our struggles, Nigeria was handed over to those least prepared for its governance, the ideals of true federalism, which we championed, ensured the autonomy of the regions and our opportunity to showcase incomparable good governance in the Western Region in the fullness of time. The point being made is that the fundamental motivation of Afenifere has always been the desire and resolve for the common good of which political power is only an added benefit and not vice versa.

    Thus, at every critical stage of Nigeria political development, the voice of reason, wisdom and courage, with which Afenifere has been associated over the years, has never been less strident or unequivocal, even if we have to stand alone initially, in a nation driven by political lucre and its appurtenant social evils.

    When the young country was confronted with the avarice of political conquest of the regions by the entrenched feudal philosophy in the centre, the Action Group not only stoutly resisted it but also mobilised minority ethnic nationalities in the original three regions in search of a true federal state where no particular region would be dominant. We were the pioneer advocates of the creation of states in the Calabar-Ogoja and Rivers Provinces in the East, Ilorin, Plateau, Adamawa and Borno in the North and Mid West in the West to make the states not so small as to be helpless and swallowed by the centre.

    We demonstrated that by giving the necessary impetus for the creation of the Midwest Region while the other regions saw that as a weapon to weaken us and protect the territorial integrity of their own two other regions which were by far more heterogeneous. The shenanigans of the oppression of the minorities, corruption and electoral malpractices which we fought against but revelled by the government at the centre, eventually brought the First Republic to its knees.

    Afenifere as the incubator of political actors: The struggle for a return to constitutional democracy anchored on True Federalism has been the hallmark of Afenifere politics since the end of the civil war in 1970.

    In the Second Republic, despite the rigging out of our leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in the presidential election, he nonetheless demonstrated the highest level of patriotism and commitment to the ideals of nation-building and at a time painfully warned of the danger awaiting them rudderless drifting of the ship of state under the Shagari government. The prophecy was not long in fulfilment soon thereafter.

    In spite of the known opposition of Chief MKO Abiola to the presidential aspirations of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Afenifere, under the leadership of Chief Adekunle Ajasin, played unmatched roles in the Social Democratic Party on which platform Abiola was elected president. We led the rest of the nation in resisting the annulment of the result of the election by the Babangida military junta.

    One of the aftermath of Afenifere resistance was the emergence of candidates only of South West origin as presidential candidates of the two dominant parties which brought Chief Olusegun Obasanjo back as President of Nigeria in 1999.

    It was an objective reality, but panicky reaction to the struggle of Afenifere for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference which the military feared might lead to the disintegration of the Nigerian state. I assert with all authority at my command that all political actors since then, particularly of the South West extraction, are products of the Afenifere/NADECO struggle.

    Afenifere and restructuring: The nobility of Afenifere principle was accentuated by the fact that the emergence of a Yoruba person as president never deterred us from the pursuit of the ideal of restructuring. It was, therefore, not by accident that the Jonathan administration appointed one of our leaders, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, as Chairman of the Presidential Committee that midwife the 2014 National Conference.

    The strong roles of Afenifere in conjunction with leaders of other nationalities make the report of the Conference the reference point in the definition and struggles for restructuring today. The Report of the Committee is the minimum template for restructuring and moving Nigeria forward.

    Agenda for 2022: Let me salute you all for keeping the flag of Afenifere flying and its torch glowing in illuminating the path of restructuring the Nigerian state. We shall not depart therefrom in spite of the pressure of political actors to the contrary who fail to realise that not even the emergence of a saint can move this country forward on the current constitution and structure.

    To this end, we shall maintain our stand as follows:

    Afenifere shall remain committed to its traditional roles of ensuring that Nigeria shall only be governed under a true federal constitution which guarantees the autonomy of the constituent groups, security and freedom of all citizens.

    The restructuring of the Nigerian state before the 2023 general elections which is achievable through the adoption of Reports of the 2014 National Conference and the 2018 Malam El-Rufai Committee of the APC on True Federalism with harmonious modifications.

    On the terrible state of insecurity and as part of the restructuring agenda we shall continue to insist that the Federal Government immediately ensure the introduction of State Police equipped with requisite means to enhance the security of the states and the federation ultimately. The performance of the Amotekun Security Network in the South West, in conjunction and collaboration with the Nigeria Police, has shown clearly that all the criticisms against State Police as an inseparable component of true federalism, are unfounded and self-serving.

    We declare Chief Sunday Adeyemo (Igboho) a prisoner of conscience and call on all men and women of a good conscience, particularly the international community, to which human rights and freedom are an abiding faith, to prevail on the governments of Nigeria and the Republic of Benin to release Igboho forthwith. The Federal Government shall also pay to Igboho damages awarded him by the court consequent upon the savage attack on his person and property.

    In like manner, we shall insist that the Federal Government should release Nnamdi Kanu whose purported trial by the government is a ruse to keep him in detention only for a mere vulgar abuse of President Buhari and members of his government as admitted by the President in his recent interview with the Channels Television.

    The escalation of insecurity, even in his absence and where he has no access to any means of communication, is an eloquent testimony that Kanu is being held vicariously culpable for the crimes of other people, which is unacceptable in criminal jurisprudence.

    Conclusion: In conclusion, let me assure you all that, as leaders, we appreciate your commitments and sacrifice towards keeping the fire of progressivism burning. For those whose focus is political gains, let me also assure you, from the abundance of learning, research and personal experience, of over 70 years, that only from the pursuit of the common good is individual benefit ensured, guaranteed and enduring.

    David Nwachukwu replied 10 months, 1 week ago 1 Member · 0 Replies
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