Southwest leaders on Sunday spoke on next year’s presidential election and its implications for the country’s future.
They endorsed All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential standard bearer Asiwjau Bola Tinubu, saying that his leadership will usher in a new era of hope, socio-economic growth and political development.
The endorsement meeting was hosted in Akure, capital of Ondo State, by Afenifere leader Pa Reuben Fasoranti, who prayed for Tinubu’s success at the poll.
The APC candidate, who stormed Fasoranti’s residence with some party stalwarts, was received by prominent Southwest leaders, including Gen. Alani Akinrinade, Gen. Olu Bajowa, Dr. Kunle Olajide, Secretary of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Chief Bisi Akande, Chief Olusegun Osoba and Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu.
Leaders at the meeting came from the six Southwest states of Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, and Lagos; and Kwara and Kogi.
Tinubu presented his blueprint for a greater and more prosperous Nigeria to the Afenifere leader and other elders.
A statement by Afenifere National Organising Secretary Abagun Kole Omololu said the leaders were in one accord as they gave Tinubu their nod.
He said: “Having taken cognisance of his commendable antecedents as Lagos State governor and his demonstrated ability in building physical and human capital, the Yoruba leaders at today’s meeting are in no doubt that Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria offers the best opportunity to produce a government that will usher in a new era of hope, peace, security, harmony, gainful employment for the multitude, economic development, social and political stability.
“We were also assured us of his commitment to the promotion of true federalism that will give states more control over their affairs. Afenifere wishes him success in the pursuit of his vision.
“The meeting urged other presidential candidates to utilise similar opportunities to articulate their vision.”
Also at the meeting were Chief Olu Falae, Ekiti State Governor Biodun Oyebanji, Ondo State Deputy Governor Lucky Ayedatiwa, and his Oyo counterpart, Bayo Lawal; Minister of State for Transport, Ademola Adegoroye, former Ogun State Deputy Governor Segun Adesegun, former Afenifere Secretary Bashorun Seinde Arogbofa, and Senator Cornelius Adebayo.
The event was also witnessed by Southwest APC leader, Isaacs Kekemeke, Chief Olusola Oke (SAN), Ondo State APC Chairman Ade Adetimehin, former Speaker of Ondo State, Victor Olabintan, former Health Minister Prof. Isaac Adewole, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Ambassador Sola Iji, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Dare Babarinsa, Chief Pius Akinyelure, and Prince Dapo Adeyeye.
A source said although Afenifere Acting Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, was invited to the meeting, he neither attended nor sent any representative.
Adebanjo has reiterated his support for the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
However, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political group has clarified that it was his personal decision and not that of the organization.
Ahead of the APC presidential primary, Tinubu had visited Fasoranti to intimate him about his decision to run and ask for his blessing.
The elderstatesman, who supported his decision to join the race, told Tinubu to return for prayers after winning the shadow poll.
Yesterday, Faoranti said he will still be alive to attend his inauguration as president.
Former Secretary to Government, 84-year-old Falae, explained his reason for supporting Tinubu, saying that he is a good product.
He decried the falling value of the Naira and the current economic woes.
Falae charged the APC flagbearer to fix the economy.
Falae added: “When you become President, please, work to fix this country. We are here to offer advice. I am old and no longer looking for a job. We need to fix security and fix our economy. Our naira is almost becoming useless and it will soon become N1,000 to a dollar. We must change that. I know your ability. We will always be here to support and I wish you well. We will be here when you bring the trophy home by the grace of God.”
Arogbofa, who presented the group’s agenda to Tinubu, urged him to unite the country and work for its progress.
He listed insecurity, restructuring, state police as issues they would want Tinubu to tackle, if elected president.
Arogbofa said: “We will like you to restructure the country. Insecurity is everywhere. By the introduction of state police, this will be done. Insecurity led to the formation of Amotekun. We are already seeing Amotekun as the precursor to state police.”
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who was represented by his deputy, Aiyedatiwa, declared that there was no obidients in the state.
He said the state was ready to deliver votes to Tinubu, owing to the belief that power must shift to the South and because he has the reach and the competence.
Makinde, who spoke through Lawal, said he cannot joke with issues pertaining to Yorubas.
He said: “Baba invited him, and he could not reject the call. Second, it is a Yoruba matter that was being discussed. In Yorubaland, if you are doing things without inviting Oyo , it is not complete. He doesn’t joke with Yoruba matter. Although, we are not united by party, but the region united us and everything about Yoruba, he would support. If he has not supported Amotekun, it would not have succeeded.”
Oyebanji assured Southwest leaders that all the governors of the region and Ekiti people are solidly behind Tinubu.
“We are happy to receive our leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, today. I want to assure him and our fathers that we will support him to the end.”
The APC candidate recalled his discussions with Fasoranti ahead of the primary.
Tinubu said he informed the Afenifere leader of his decision to pursue his dreams to succeed Buhari, adding: “I told baba I was going (to contest) and will come back home. I said the person who will defeat me will sweat. I told baba to promise me he will survive. I thank God that the dream has come to reality.”
The former Lagos governor spoke on how President Muhammadu Buhari rejected pressure to anoint a candidate.
He also said President Buhari rejected his offer to nominate his running mate and encouraged him to pick his choice.
Tinubu said: “On the 3rd of March this year, I came purposely to talk to baba on consultation. Baba took time to say he will not give up on Nigeria. I told him Buhari was about to go and I will be interested to step into his shoes.
“The battle was tough. At the end the man proved to me that Nigeria can survive in unity. There were so many of them who wanted Buhari to annoit somebody’s else. Even on the night of the primary, some of them were still pressuring, but he said no.
“There is one thing interesting about Buhari’s attitude. He told me to keep on going. He said: “Whatever strategy you used, you have given me credibility and I am sure you are fit to be President of Nigeria.’
Tinubu urged Southwest leaders to thank President Buhari and Northern governors for their steadfastness and for being promise-keepers.
He said: “The North proved to me Nigeria can survive in unity. Some people wanted President Muhammadu Buhari to announce someone, but the President said no. He insisted the process must go on democratically. The President said anyone that would mess up the APC process would see the other side of his eyes. He remained upright and saw to the process to the end.
“Northern APC governors resolved that the Presidency must go to the South and especially Southwest. Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Abdullahi Ganduje and others supported me to the end. The battle was tough and at a point, I was in doubt. There were many rumours and I became confused about what to believe.”
Eulogising Buhari’s forthrightness, Tinubu added: “President Buhari told me I promoted his name with the way I won the primary because the process was clean and transparent and nobody can accuse him of manipulating the process. President Buhari said I gave him credibility and I deserved to be President. When I asked him to nominate the VP candidate for me, he said I should pick whoever I want and it is the reason I chose a competent man in Kashim Shettima who never lost any election and protected Christians in times of trouble in his state.”
“I asked President Buhari to nominate my running mate. Anybody of his choice. He said he took a bush path and got his nomination. He told me to go and pick anybody of my choice.
“Reminding myself that I am a minority as a Muslim. If I take a Christian from the North, I am nursing failure. I picked Shettima. A man who himself has not lost an election. A man who has protected Christians; who has listened to me on a number of strategic issues. Those who wanted to be running mate started a controversy. Another one already collected money from some people, but I refused to pick him.”
He added: “One thing that is certain is that there is no Yoruba man or woman among us that disappointed the calculus. They supported this ticket.”Follow us on social media