Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s supporters are rallying around critical stakeholders across Yorubaland to support him ahead of his May 29 inauguration.
One of their strategies for carrying out their plan was to engage those they identified as unrepentant Tinubu critics throughout Yorubaland, as well as prominent traditional rulers, to speak to or reach out to those closer to them in their various states.
According to reports, the move was made to avoid a similar scenario with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was mocked by other regions “as President without a base.”
Remember that between 1999 and 2003, the then-ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Obasanjo did not win any state in the Southwest, and he (Obasanjo) was heavily chastised by many Yoruba leaders and politicians, which culminated in ‘Operation Capture Southwest’ in the 2003 general elections.
Although the incumbent ruling APC won four Southwest states in the last presidential election, Tinubu was surprisingly defeated in Lagos by the Labour Party (LP) and Peter Obi, as well as in Osun State by the PDP and Governor Ademola Adeleke.
Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of the Yoruba socio-political group Afenifere; former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George; Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, and a slew of others are openly critical of Tinubu and how he became President-elect.
The first of such reconciliation moves was made with Chief George over the weekend, when one of Tinubu’s core supporters, Chief Tajudeen Olusi, led two former deputy governors of Lagos State, Adejoke Orelope Adefulire and Abiodun Ogunleye, Justice Ishola Olorunimbe (rtd), Layi Ogunbambi, and Satari Arileshere, a retired civil servant, to the Ikoyi office of George to
Olusi stated that the move became necessary due to the strained relationship between the two leaders.
Speaking to reporters after the hours-long closed-door meeting, the octogenarian, who revealed that it was the second in the move to initiate peace between both leaders, described the mission as cordial and largely successful, expressing gratitude to God for the outcome.
“This is my second meeting with Bode George, and the purpose of this meeting is number one, to praise the Almighty.” Today, our country’s President-elect, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is from Lagos State, he is a former Senator from Lagos, and is also a former governor of Lagos, and we are happy, but we also know that the relationship between the President-elect and our Chief Bode George is not very cordial.
“It is critical that we as community leaders take steps to improve the relationship,” Olusi said.
Olusi also revealed that, based on the successful outcome of the meeting, the delegation demanded that George congratulate Asiwaju Tinubu on his election as President-elect, saying that the PDP chieftain could do so before or after May 29, 2023.
However, in a phone call yesterday, George stated that as a Christian, he has forgiven Tinubu for everything he (Tinubu) has done to him, “but to congratulate him on his victory while my party, the PDP, is still at the Election Petition Tribunal, challenging his victory is not possible.”
“What if the tribunal later says Tinubu didn’t win, which is not impossible?” George wondered.
“I told them flatly that I had nothing against Tinubu, but that won’t stop me from telling the truth.” I don’t know what they want because the case is in court.”
Insinuations that Tinubu will buy him out were dismissed by George. “Even if Tinubu wins in court, I can only wish him well,” he said. I’m not interested in anything he has to offer. I was in the Aso Rock Villa as a military man and also had the opportunity to be in the Villa as a civilian under Obasanjo; there is nothing I want to see there again except Tinubu perform and not the shenanigans he has perpetrated in Lagos since 1999.”
The former PDP deputy national chairman, who was accompanied by former Deputy Governor Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor and General Tajudeen Olanrewaju, among others, said the meeting focused on Lagos State’s unity as well as her culture of accommodating all, which, he claims, makes the state the commercial nerve center of the country.
In response to a question about whether Tinubu initiated the reconciliation effort, Olusi stated, “It was a peace meeting organized to reconcile two individuals.” You want to know if the meeting was called at the request of Mr A or Mr B. It could be at the request of anyone.
“However, the most important thing is to reconcile people and make peace for ourselves, our people, and the entire nation.”
“The concept of mediating peace is entirely ours. I can confidently state that the initiative was entirely my own. It was not done at the request of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu or Chief Olabode George. It was also not at the request of any political party.”
“Those who were involved in the peace deal are prominent citizens of my state who are interested in the advancement of Lagos State and Nigeria.”
When contacted, Chief Adebanjo stated that Tinubu had always come to see him even before the election, but that “no one has reached out to me since the election.”
“I am aware of their meeting with Bode Geroge,” he says, “but if they want to come, I will not stop them; whatever they say will determine my response.” My position is that Afenifere will stand for the truth and nothing else; until they arrive, there will be no reaction.”
Senator Femi Okurounmu and Chief Supo Sonibare, leaders of Afenifere in Ogun and Lagos states, refused to comment.
“I don’t have anything to say about Tinubu,” Okurounmu said. Actually, I’m getting tired of talking.”
Afenifere Chief Ayo Adebanjo
However, Bayo Aina, National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere Egbe Ilosiwaju Yoruba, led by Prince Olusi, said in a statement that the meeting with George was just part of a larger plan to bring all Yoruba stakeholders under one umbrella before Tinubu’s inauguration on May 29.
He stated that while Prince Olusi led the delegates to Chief George, the larger picture involves the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), a body of traditional rulers and other stakeholders.
“Beyond Tinubu and Yoruba land, there is a need to put heads together on how to save this country, and we cannot continue to speak in different voices to achieve this,” he says.
However, Afenifere’s Spokesperson, Mr. Jare Ajayi, stated that there is nothing to reconcile between the Pa Reuben Fasoranti leadership and Tinubu. “Our appeal to everyone is that we need to support the President-elect in his efforts to build this country as soon as he is sworn in on May 29,” he said. What the country faces is more than a personal score and individual differences. It also affects others, including Yoruba in Kogi and Kwara states, as well as those in the Diaspora. We have over 200 million Nigerians who want good governance and a better country.”
Meanwhile, Dr Kunle Olajide, the former Secretary General of YCE, stated that he is deeply involved in and supportive of any reconciliation that will bring transformation to the Nigerian state.
Olajide urged everyone to forget the past and unite behind Tinubu for the sake of Nigeria.