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Controversy as Afenifere opts out of Yoruba summit

Controversy is trailing Thursday’s summit on “Yoruba Nation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” slated for Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, Daily Trust can report

Controversy is trailing Thursday’s summit on “Yoruba Nation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” slated for Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, Daily Trust can report.

Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, said Thursday it would not participate in the summit.

Besides, the spokesman for the group, Mr. Yinka Odumakin confirmed that its patriarch, Chief Reuben Fashoranti who has been invited for the summit would not attend.

The summit being conveyed by the Yoruba Patriots’ Movement is to deliberate on the future of the Yoruba nation in the current political dispensation, according to the Secretary, Planning Committee, Engr. Adekunle Olayinka.

He disclosed that the summit, which would be co-chaired by Gen. Alani Akinrinade, former Chief of Defence Staff and High Chief Rashidi Ladoja, former Governor of Oyo State, will be attended by present and former governors as well as notable past and present political office holders in the six southwest states of Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo.

It listed Chief Fasoranti; Senator Biyi Durojaiye, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, Otunba Subomi Balogun, Chief Afe Babalola, Aare Gani Adams, Pastor Tunde Bakare, amongst others as some of the participants.

But the summit is generating ripples in the South-West region following the decision of Afenifere to opt-out.

Odumakin in a chat with Daily Trust said Afenifere was not invited but the group only sent an invitation to Chief Fasoranti to attend as a guest.

He said Afenifere should have been consulted for such a summit. “If we are not considered that important, there is no point for us to attend,” he said.

Daily Trust however learnt that the decision of Afenifere to opt-out of the summit was hinged on suspicion that it was a politically motivated summit to promote the speculated ambition of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Though Tinubu has not declared interest in the presidency, many supporters, loyalists and admirers have been making case for him to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.

One of the promoters of the group is the former National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, a close ally of Tinubu, who is a patron of the movement while another Tinubu’s ally, Tajudeen Olusi, the Chairman of APC Elders’ Forum in Lagos, was listed as one of the participants.

A source said, “From all indications, the summit is to champion the 2023 ambition of Asiwaju and Afenifere has never hidden its opposition to Tinubu’s presidency.”

Speaking with Daily Trust Tuesday, National Coordinator of the movement, the organisers of the summit, Chief Oladosu Oladipo dismissed the threat by Afenifere, saying there are three wings of Afenifere and two have confirmed participation in the summit.

Oladipo said those threatening not to attend are “negligible” and vowed that the summit would go on as planned.

He also accused the Afenifere chieftains of threatening to shun the summit as promoting “Igbo presidency”.

Asked if the summit was in respect of Tinubu’s presidency as being insinuated, he said there was nothing wrong with that as long as he is a Yoruba person.

He said, “They are disposed to an Igbo president and they have made it very clear but Chief Olu Falae told me that I should send invitations to all of them including Chief Ayo Adebanjo. If they learn not to come, they have a choice, can we force them?”

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