The bad blood between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Muhammad Buhari might have soured the relationship among leaders of the Yoruba in the southwest.
Some bitter critics of the former president amongst his tribesmen are rallying round him while others are not holding back in tearing the into ribbons the relevant of the former military ruler the Yoruba nation has mostly rejected as a sell-out.
Last Saturday, a number of Yoruba leaders met in Lagos in preparation for what they called the battle ahead–which is in defence of Obasanjo believed to have been marked down by the federal government for criticising the current administration.
However, the likes of Prof. Wole Soyinka, APC leader Bola Tinubu, Olu Falae, and others might not be keen on the Afenifere project. They believe Obasanjo had despised his tribesmen in many ways over the years, including discrediting the philosophy of the late Yoruba sage Obafemi Awolowo, and rubbishing the June 1993 presidential election and its acclaimed winner the late MKO Abiola whom Buhari recently honored, and blinking over the assassination of his Justice Minister Bola Ige.
Among his unrepentant critics is Soyinka. He recently condemned Obasanjo as suffering from Messianic complex when the former leader is the least worthy to champion any leadership reform in Nigeria.
The Nobel laureate will soon be launching a book criticising Obasanjo.
Ayo Adebanjo, a leader of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, who convened the meeting that drew key figures in the zone to the meeting at his Lekki home in Lagos, published his own early in the year.
Adebanjo had been a critic of Obasanjo for years, going as far as shredding the former president’s historical relevance in his book entitled “Telling it as it is”.
The Afenifere leader wrote in the book that Obasanjo who carried on as if he was all-in-all failed woefully on all counts as President. “His eight-year tenure (1999-2007) was a tragedy. His scorecard was nothing to write home about,’ the autobiography stated
Sources at the Saturday meeting, however, said it was an“essentially fence mending” one that sought to end the ancient animosity among Yoruba leaders.
Obasanjo was said to have arrived the venue at 10 am, and was the party spirit all through the meeting, cracking jokes and making points.
But he didn’t speak with journalists after the meeting.
Adebanjo, however, told the newsmen the gathering was nothing more than the fact that Nigeria must move forward.
“All attempts to establish dictatorial tendencies in the country must be opposed. There must be unity to destroy mediocrity and dictatorship,” he said.
“What is important is that we have our common goal. We don’t have a candidate yet; not yet. We must agree first and any differences among us must be settled. If you are not united, you can’t fight a battle. The Yoruba man must put on his thinking cap.”
The Latter Rain Assembly’s Pastor Tunde Bakare who attended the meeting, said speaking out against the happenings in the country shouldn’t make one an enemy of the state.
“The thinker is the enemy of the mob. If you say I have been a critic of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, look at him now being a critic of Muhammadu Buhari too. Yet he facilitated his (Buhari) coming in (as President),” he said.
“Critique is not the same thing as criticism – it is let us reason together; things are not going the right way. That is all.”
Many will be surprised that Obasanjo and Afenifere, sworn enemies for years, are mending fences.
The former president claims to be a nationalist who hates any form of ethnocentrism. But his flight to the Yoruba now when he has a run in with President Buhari, a northerner, belies his nationalism.
Others at the meeting were the immediate past governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko; ex-Ogun State governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; Emeritus Professor, Akin Mabogunje; a long-time associate of Obasanjo, Otunba Oyewole Fasawe; a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State, Chief Joju Fadairo, Dr. Amos Akingba and Dr. Tunji Olaopa.
Others included a former General Secretary of Afenifere, Senator Femi Okunrounmu; Chief Abraham Akanle, Prof. Banji Akintoye, Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu, Chief Supo Sonibare, spokesman for the Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin; Chief Kenny Martins, and the spokesman for the former President-led coalition, Mr. Akin Osuntokun.