Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure the country before the 2023 general elections.
Speaking on Friday at the group’s meeting held at Ogbo residence in Odogbolu Local Government Area of Ogun State, leader of the group, Ayo Adebanjo, said elections cannot be held when there’s no country.
Adebanjo added that Afenifere was founded on the political philosophy of federalism, urging Buhari to return the country to a true federal system.
He also welcomed the call by Southern governors for the country to be restructured, saying, “Afenifere welcomes and endorse fully the resolution of the Southern Governors Forum. And we hope Gen. Buhari in the interest of Nigeria unity, peace, tranquillity and economic progress give serious attention to the recommendation.”
Adebanjo said, “We urge Buhari to bury the idea of holding an election before returning to federalism by restructuring the country.
“There must be a country before elections are held, it would be patriotic of him to heed this advice. If Gen. Buhari is sincere about keeping the country together, he must restructure the country now this is the only answer to halt the disintegration of the country. To save Nigeria, restructure the country now.
“We should be proud as inheritors of a noble heritage, the party (Afenifere) was founded on the political philosophy of federalism due to the multi-ethnic, multilingual, multicultural and multi-religious nature of our country.
“Failure to adhere to this principle has been the cause of the instability that has plagued our country since Independence. Our consistent advocacy for the restructuring of the country to federalism is based on the founding philosophy of the party.
“It is for this reason that the founding leader of the party is known as the father of federalism in Nigeria.
“It is the only political system that can keep the country together in peace. It is mischievous for President Buhari’s government to accuse advocates of restructuring as secessionist and separatists.
“It is the system that our founding fathers, The Saudarna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmad Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe agreed to before the British government granted us independence in 1960, after the collapse of Macpherson constitution in 1953.
“The present constitution which is the cause of instability in the country is imposed on us by the military-dominated by Northern Muslims after the coup of 1966.
“The clamour for the return of the country to federalism is born out of the obnoxious provision in the constitution which has made economic and political progress impossible and this has been the main cause of instability in the country.
“Our resolve for the restructuring of the country back to federalism is unshakeable. We assert we are no secessionist. It is those who oppose restructuring that are enemies of a United Nigeria. That all opponents of restructuring give impetus to secessionists.
“We do not believe in the National Assembly which is a product of this fraudulent constitution to amend the constitution, it is immoral and illogical for a product of fraud to amend the fraud. Six years ago, I warned the nation of the danger of voting for Gen. Muhammad Buhari, I accused him of being a feudalist by birth, a dictator by training and a religious fanatic.
“I accused him of being a tribalist who has no respect for the rule of law. We were bombarded with the propaganda that he will ruthlessly fight corruption which they said was the bane of Jonathan administration.
“They even told us that as a military man, he would wipe out Boko Haram in 6 months. But after six years in office, we now know better. Buhari has failed in his promises to the electorate.
“Our economy is in tatters, corruption is growing in arithmetical proportion. Our security has collapsed to the extent that Buhari’s government has become so helpless that it now negotiates with Bandits who are so powerful that they dictate the terms of the negotiation. Kidnapping, murder, rape and various acts of criminality pervade the length and breadth of the country unabated.
“The clamour for Gen. Buhari to resign or be impeached is growing louder and louder every day.
“As a cover-up for his misdeeds, Gen. Buhari has resorted to silence the opposition by raising the false alarm that former military officers and prominent leaders of the ethnic organization and some Emirs are planning a meeting to pass a vote of no confidence in him. You will wonder even if that allegation is true when is it illegal or unconstitutional in a democracy for citizens to associate. Freedom of association is embedded in our constitution.
“He also raises a false alarm that people are planning a coup. I assert Gen. Buhari has failed woefully, he has no clue about the problems facing Nigeria. He should go now before he plunged the country into a crisis the end of which nobody can foretell.
“The Yoruba people are the only ethnic group that has never called for secession. We have invested in a united Nigeria that we will resist any act that will lead to its break up. We will be in Nigeria as equal partners in a federal Nigeria. A Nigeria in which we will play a second fiddle is most unacceptable.
“Therefore, our irreducible minimum condition of staying in Nigeria is a restructured Nigeria. Anything short of that is ‘‘to thy tent, oh Isreal.
“The unity of the horse and the rider in which a section of the country is the rider and we the horse is most unacceptable. Afenifere by our resilience and consistency over the years has proved to be the most reliable and dependable organization in the country”.
“I assert very confidently that from the First Republic we are the only national party in the country.
“It is our consistent and persistent agitation for the right of minorities that has given birth to Edo, Delta, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states in the South and Benue, Plateau, Borno, Kwara and the Adamawa States in the North.
“Our party manifesto of Free Education, Free Health and Integrated Rural Development as successfully implemented in the West is not confined to Yoruba land but applicable and implementable beyond Yoruba land across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
“Afenifere is the beacon of progressive politics. The political philosophy of federalism propagated by our leader the sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo is now the sing-song all over the country today. I hereby appeal to all our members who for one reason or another have sojourned in the other parties to come back home, you will be welcome with open arms. There is room for the youth to rise to leadership on the merit of their performance.
“It is cheering that the call for the restructuring is no longer limited to Afenifere, PANDEF and Middle-Belt forum, The Northern Elders Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum have joined the crusade.”