By AYO OPADOKUN
Afenifere, described by many as a pressure group with legitimate force, serving interests and maintaining the waning influence of Yoruba people in the Nigerian Federation, today clocks 70years of its existence.
Afenifere. founded 70 years ago as a socio-cultural organization for the Yoruba people of Nigeria, with Chief Abraham Adesanya as its leader and Chief Bola Ige as deputy leader. Other founding members included Pa Onasanya, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Adegbonmire, Okurounmu Femi, Ganiyu Dawodu, Olanihun Ajayi, Olu Falae, Adebayo Adefarati, Alhaji Adeyemo
During the 70years of its existence, Afenirefe, a movement of the defunct Action Group, precedes Nigeria’s political independence and has gone through circumstantial, existential, external threats, assaults and self-inflicted injury of fractionalizations,(Papa Fasoranti/Adebanjo; Late Senator Fasanmi; Senator Durojaiye; Afenifere Renewal) and still counting in spite of its current limitations over time.
The demise of its Spokesperson, Mr Yinka Odumakin, revealed that The Pan-Yoruba group does not only serve the interest of the Yoruba people of southwest Nigeria alone but serves the interest of every Nigerian as shown with the tributes poured in from all corners of Nigeria and indeed the world.
Pertinent to note as the group hits Platinum, is the fact that the Action Group as a National Political Party was the brainchild of the late sage, Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, SAN, GCFR and his untiring efforts, grim determination to prepare and get Western Nigeria ready for productive responses to the then on-coming constitutional exigencies which the Richard Constitution provisions would demand on Nigerians.
But as AFENIFERE hits Platinum, it is worthy of note that from its inception remained to date, a movement of people who are committed to the greatest welfare of the people as enunciated by Chief Obafemi Awolowo SAN, under the philosophical caption of EGALITARIANISM, LIFE MORE ABUNDANT. Afenifere was never a registered political party but it was the propelling Movement of people behind the Action Group that was registered.
During its 70years of existence, there had been no time when Afenifere was a cultural organization. Egbe Omo Oduduwa which was a cultural organization decided not to transform into a political party after exhaustive discussion because they believed that such a transformation into partisan politics could compromise the organization and divide the Yoruba nation, which was the very people it set itself up to protect and defend. Interested readers can Google the internet to be familiar with the names of the Yoruba distinguished leaders who collaborated with Chief Awolowo to establish the Egbe first in London and later in Nigeria in order to provide a credible voice for the Yoruba people in the immediate nationalist struggle for self-determination.
Afenifere as a Movement of ideas, the burden of standing in the gap for Nigeria against the successive military dictatorship and their military in civilian dress tyrannies have been a lot of Yoruba Nationalists and Activists principally along with other compatriots since pre-independence till the present time.
At any critical time of strong opposition against the tyrannical rule of the successive Nigerian state, the greatest majority of the Leading Activists that are usually oppressed, dehumanized, incarcerated and sometimes declared missing are mostly from the South West along with Kwara and Kogi activists. There are statistical records to prove this assertion.
Since we have historically and factually established that Action Group was the registered political party but Afenifere had always been a Movement in Yorubaland of those who subscribe to Chief Awolowo’s Political Philosophy of Life more Abundant and that it was the Registers of Afenifere membership in the Yoruba States including Kogi and Kwara that were used to register AD in 1998, it stands to reason that those who may still desire to pursue their political ambition outside whatever the “progressive” political camp adopted as close to the Action Group tendency should be bold and honest enough to leave Afenifere. The platform should no more be used for political expediency.
As Afenifere hits Platinum, a majority of the Yoruba people of southwest Nigeria see the pressure group as a legitimate force that is both serving their interests and maintaining the waning influence of Yorubaland in the Federation. They consider it to be a necessary body to preserve the ethnic identity of the Yorubas.