Prince Justice Jadesola Faloye

The recent press release by the latest Afenifere splinter group announcing the sacking of Pa Ayo Adebanjo as leader, kicks off another shambolic cycle of Afenifere counterfeiting, but just like the saying that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of the real Afenifere is in its activism. The decision was made by those that had long departed Afenifere, but despite attempts to confuse people with multiplicity of tags like Afenifere, Afenifere Renewal, Afenifere Revisted ProMax, they are distinguished as either being the Voice of the People or Voice of the Government Paymaster.

Every important election since 2003 has led to a fight for the conscience of the Yoruba, in which Tinubu ends up chipping off a bit of Afenifere, Yorubas sociopolitical and moral compass. Though many in Afenifere continue to remain steadfast to the mantra of social welfarism established by Chief Obafemi, a few in the name of political expediency follow Tinubu despite his conservative neo-liberal politics, and tend to buy media for prominence. To them, it’s all about money, personal sentiments and power, which they are normally made to work for by countering the true voice of Yoruba conscience. But by their utterances, they shall be identified.

For the last eight years during Buhari regime, Yorubas were subjected to mental rigors to distinguish which Afenifere was speaking. On one side, there was the indefatigable late Yinka Odumakin pushing for restructuring and calling government to account over the many failures in economics, security among other things, while on the other side we had the photo ops of psuedo elites that mainly supported the government, regardless of its faults. It got so bad that the Awa Bamiji pretenders even used its government ties to take over Yinka Odumakins burial to provide photo ops for the government as sociopolitically progressive.

When the recent announcement broke, many friends reached out to me for clarification, even though I am not the spokesman but close to the heirarchy that believes there was no point engaging in the childish games since it shouldn’t take much to know who was the real Afenifere. Can someone that raises fuel prices by 300%, sending millions deeper into poverty, while they bought N160m cars for themselves claim to be Afenifere? How can you be an Afenifere based on social welfarism be supporting irresponsible neo-liberal economic policies that has devalued Naira from N700 to N1500 to a British Pound, resulting in huge economic destabilization and more unemployment?

Oba Olu Falae, the father of neo-liberal economics in Nigeria from the Babaginga regime that is currently leading the Akure faction, came out on TV a few weeks ago to support Tinubu’s fuel subsidy removal and Naira devaluation, knowing fully well as an Economist that not a single Black nation out of sixty nations that adopted these neo-liberal economic policies was a success, and instead caused economic and political destabilization and regression. Therefore we have to publicly challenge Oba Olu Falae to explain how our economic quagmire and poverty trap can be addressed with Tinubu’s neo-liberal economic policies. Also, instead of the superficial moving of CBN headquarters to Lagos, how do they intend to accomplish restructuring and devolution of power, especially when Tinubu most supportive constituency, the North is anti-restructuring. When would the ethnic cleansing of South and Middlebelt by Northern Islamists stop!

When Tinubu won, I took offence to those suggesting that being Yoruba we should all rally around him and let bygones be bygones as a family. I responded that I had no grouse against Tinubu as a person and the problem was ideological differences, and I won’t now put aside my lifelong held principles for the sake of power, money or tribal prebendalism. Those pushing the pro-Tinubu facade are actually my elders in Akure that brought me into Afenifere, because at the time we shared similar ideological positions, but when they fell in with Tinubu, I didn’t follow blindly because they were my blood. They seized to be my ideological family even though still my blood family. My large family background is politically mature enough to accommodate different political ideologies and we vigourously question each other.

My opposition to Tinubu was solely based on his 24yr precedence in the governance of Lagos State, where neo-liberal economic policies and conservatism at one time ‘deported’ the poor that could no show tax receipts of N7,500, yet they did nothing to uplift the poor. A governance that in twenty-four years could only build 16 kilometers of railway out of 160 kilometers that would be launchpad of industrialization. True to form as you can never hide smoke, on his first day in government he stabbed the heart of our economy with the declaration that subsides were dead. Fuel subsidies used to stimulate our petrol based economy and foreign exchange that we relied on for 80% of our processing industries.

Short of a miraculous change like Saul on the way to Damascus, there was no way at this point of his career that Tinubu could change his political disposition from ‘power for power sake’ to one that fights for the betterment of the collective. Even if like Saul, he had a change of heart, his management style and economic perception would prevent him. He can’t roll up his sleeves, come to the level of the people and lead them in an emergency development of our economic liberating infrastructure. His best moves will be that of a slavemaster that would send the poor into peasant farming, and not industrialization. Those who plead for constructive engagement with Tinubu remind me of those that advocated for constructive engagement with the racists in USA and later apartheid South Africa. A leopard can’t change its spots.

For political expediency some people argue that since it is unlikely Tinubu will leave power till 2031 with INEC and the judiciary in his control, do I intend or expect Afenifere to be in opposition all that while. I responded that I set out at age sixteen to study economics solely to find ways to uplift the Black Race, and at age 30, I set out to research and write books, documentaries and apps to that effect for the last 29 years, would I now discard that for a chance at the table to eat the national cake for a mere 8yrs. E no possible, ko se se!

Regardless of the propaganda and deceit, it is obvious who is Our Masta Voice sounding like the government spokesmen. Who pays the piper dictates the tune and there is no way that those bought over by Tinubu will ever criticize his government even when it is blatantly being anti-people. Regardless of media and PR stunts to confuse people, they can see which faction can’t call the government in power to question when thousands are killed by terrorists, bandits and herdsmen, or galloping inflation due to badly conceived or implemented economic polices. Even if the entire Afenifere is bought, a new generation of Yoruba youths will rise to speak truth to the powers and be known as Afenifere.

The real Afenifere will continue to distinguish itself by vigorously pushing progressive principles. At a point Afenifere influence waned due to internal disputes inspired by Tinubu, but when Yinka Odumakin stepped foward to push for restructuring and the South and Middlebelt Civilizationism, it was clear who was the authentic voice. In this new round of Afenifere counterfeiting, the Tinubu faction of Afenifere might even mimick the real Afenifere push for restructuring, but its lack of passion and commitment regardless of government intimidation will make it obvious who is the real McCoy. You can’t be disturbing the government when you are expecting the next financial settlement or political post.

The real Afenifere will go further by bringing in new pro-people youths to push the ceiling ideologically, unlike those gathering old warhoses that had deserted the real Afenifere decades ago. There are new issues in addition to its restructuring flagship activism, like the excruciating economic issues freshly created by Tinubu and decoloniality. The Afenifere ideological counterfeits can only be reactionary, giving excuses for government failures and trying to counter the real Afenifere demand for economic and political progressivism. One thing is certain, Yoruba consciousness will never die, even as new factions and generations evolve. There is a Yoruba proverb that states that if the person fooling others don’t know, those being fooled will know, lies never get lost on both sides at once.

Afenifere will always be the most important group since through its deliberations and fight for the conscience of the Yoruba, various factions will continue to evolve either based on money like the pro-Tinubu factions or irreconcilable sociopolitical ideological differences. We have had diehard Odua Republic separatists break off the real Afenifere, who despite their large numbers could win the argument to prove it’s achievability and desirability, unless Restructuring failed and internal colonization by the North continued unabated. It is unachievable since Yoruba are only 20% of the population and therefore can’t go it alone without the civilizational alliances of other indigenous African groups across the South and Middlebelt, and undesirable knowing that Yoruba benefit enormously from a 200 million people economy that passes through its ports and acts as the commerical headquarters.

It is not about personalities and photo ops of some elite, because even if a real Afenifere like Baba Ayo Adebanjo becomes president, Afenifere will seize to be Afenifere when it stops fighting for the economic and political progress of the Yoruba majority.

By Prince Justice

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