By Ishola Balogun
The apprehension that greeted the resignation of the National Leader of the Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, and the relief that followed the backtracking three days after, would continue to generate reactions. To so many people the whole development leaves so much to be desired.
While some close watchers, said it was a good development, indicative of a smart and intelligent way of mending fences, others opined that it suggested a house falling by installments, a signal that something was clearly amiss and if not urgently addressed, might decimate what remains of the socio-political group.
Why did Pa Fasoranti resign in the first place and why did the disciplined and principled man change his mind three days after?
Some of the reasons Pa Fasoranti put forward were that it was difficult for members to work in unity He said in his resignation letter, “As events have been unfolding in the past few years, the focus and goals of the founding fathers of our great organization ‘Afenifere’ were gradually eroded.”
He lamented that the erosion of the common focus and goals of the organisation equally made it difficult for members to work in unity. “Several efforts were made to ensure the actualization of the Afenifere goals, but it appeared that we have not succeeded in achieving this,” he lamented.
A source hinted Saturday Vanguard that the recent outburst of the some of the Yoruba leaders over the Fulani herdsmen was one of the major reasons the octogenarian decided to step aside.
Recall that shortly after the kidnapping of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae and invasion of his farmland, the Summit of Yoruba Elders in Ibadan, Oyo State, threatened to reconsider Yoruba’s membership of the Nigerian federation, harping on “National insecurity and the Menace of Fulani Herdsmen in Yorubaland.”
Commenting on the development, a source who was visibly angry at the development said: “They were supposed to condemn kidnapping or any act of criminality by any individual in the country and in any part of Nigeria and not to give a threat of secession because it was carried out by Fulani.
Do you want to tell me that no Yoruba had committed any crime in the North? It was reckless and unguarded and the man I know would not want to associate himself with that reckless move. It appeared that some of them did not even consult with the leader before their outburst,” he said.
Again, the rumble created by the division of ideological stance of supporting former President Goodluck Jonathan is yet to die down with a size-able number of pro-Jonathan men who were dictating the pace at which the Yoruba must toe. This, according to a source, gave Pa Fasoranti some headache.
Although, in his resignation letter, he insisted that the decision of the group to back Mr. Jonathan was not a mistake but a fulfillment of the group’s promise to him if the confab report, the actualisation of the core values of Afenifere, was implemented, politicians in the region opined that the issue is still creating division among the core leaders of the group especially now that the new government is seen as being unfriendly to the Jonathan’s loyalists.
Perhaps that was why Pa Fasoranti lamented that the core values and vision of Afenifere had been eroded over time and that the group had missed its crucial target of securing true federalism for Nigeria which would guarantee autonomy for the Yoruba people.
In a swift move and in order not to create the scenario of a division, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo alongside other Yoruba big shots, insisted that Pa Fasoranti rescinded his decision. After several hours of deliberation at Fasoranti’s country home in Akure, they prevailed on him to continue as the leader of the group.
But whether this development will engender unity, purposeful leadership, loyalty and genuine reconciliation is another episode in the yet unfolding drama of the Afenifere drumbeat.