By Dapo Akinrefon, Deputy Regional Editor, S-West
The new leader of the Pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, has vowed to continue pressing for the restructuring of Nigeria, saying those opposed to restructuring are enemies of Nigeria.
Adebanjo, who was announced Afenifere leader by Pa Reuben Fasoranti, the immediate past leader, said he was surprised when the announcement was made.
When asked what he would do differently as Afenifere leader, he said: “There is no new approach other than what we have been saying. “I will only continue to preach restructuring because there is no solution to the problem of this country other than restructuring.
“We have problems in the South-South, South-West, the South-East and the Middle Belt and they are all clamouring for autonomy. “Why is the man (Buhari) so stubborn about restructuring? And that is why I say Buhari is not sincere about one Nigeria. “Why do they want to continue ruling us under an imposed constitution? That is why people are saying they want to go their separate ways, but we are still pressing them. There is a limit to the pressure we can mount and that is why I told him (Buhari) that those who don’t want Nigeria to break are pressing for restructuring now. Anybody opposed to restructuring of Nigeria now, unfortunately, is an opponent of Nigeria.”
Reacting to his new appointment, he said: “It took me by surprise. The leader (Fasoranti) didn’t call to talk to me about it at all. “He only called me to come for the meeting in Akure and I told him that the road was unsafe and he agreed with me.
“He told me he was going to postpone the meeting but I disagreed with him saying: ‘Why must you postpone the meeting because of one man?’ That was how we left it, only for me to hear the announcement the following day.
“He didn’t discuss the succession plan with me. I told him (Fasoranti) that he was not fair to me and that he didn’t give me a hint and then he laughed.
“I told him he was imposing Afenifere philosophy on me because in Afenifere, we don’t disobey our leaders. “Once he has said it, I can’t refuse and that is our tradition. I told him that if he had told me, I would have advised that a younger person be made the leader and then, he laughed. That was our discussion.” Adebanjo is the second leader of Afenifere since its formation. The socio cultural organization of the Yoruba had the late Pa Abraham Adesanya as its pioneer head while the late Chief Bola Ige was his deputy. Other founding members of the body include Pa Solanke Onasanya, Fasoranti, Adegbonmire, Okurounmu Femi, Ganiyu Dawodu, Olanihun Ajayi, Chief Olu Falae, Adebayo Adefarati, Alhaji Adeyemo, and Adebanjo.
The nonagenarian emerged as the leader of the organization at a critical time in the South-West region, especially in view of activities of criminal herders, self-determination agitation and 2023 calculations, among other issues.