Afenifere And The Politics Of Killer Herdsmen
Afenifere, pan -Yoruba socio- political organisation was formed to protect and advance the interest of the Yoruba nation. However rather than unite, speak with one voice and forge a common front in achieving this aim, leaders of the group, due to ideological and political differences have been singing discordant tunes and are always at loggerheads on the modus operandi needed to tackle issues that are inimical to the growth and development of the South-West region.
It is common knowledge that while one faction of Afenifere, led by Pa Reuben Fasoranti with members such as Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Olu Falae, Senator Femi Okurounmu, Yinka Odumakin, Seinde Arogbofa, Olusegun Mimiko is sympathetic to the cause of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the just concluded general elections, Atiku Abubakar, the other Afenifere led by Senator Ayo Fasanmi and members such as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Pa Bisi Akande, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, Tajudeen Olusi are staunch members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and loyalists of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recently, when the Fasanmi-led Afenifere paid a courtesy visit to President Muhammadu Buhari to congratulate him on his re-election and make requests for the South-West bordering on security, education, youth employment, power supply and agriculture, the Fasoranti group described them as traitors in Yorubaland, who are unfit to be referred to as members of Afenifere.
Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary of the Fasoranti- led Afenifere, said they were not members of the organisation but leaders of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-West.
According to Odumakin, Fasanmi and his group are mere opportunists and impostors who have always been silent when issues relating to the welfare of the Yoruba are concerned.
“That was not Afenifere that met with Buhari. Bola Tinubu and his group are just members of the APC South-West, and if they have any dignity, they could never have called themselves Afenifere.
“The group that visited Buhari are mere opportunists and great impostors. Every intelligent Nigerian cannot remember hearing their voices in all the challenges the Yoruba have faced in recent times.
“They are all APC members who should have called themselves so if there is decency. They are not different from all the funny groups like Imeri group to provoke the Yoruba. It’s unfortunate that some of these people who played noble roles in the past are doing this in their departing years.
“In all the battles of the Yoruba people, have you heard the voices of these people, whether Tinubu, Fasanmi, or any of them parading themselves as Afenifere today? They are taunting Yoruba people.”
“They are behaving like the entire group Abacha was parading about to taunt Yoruba in those days. And it is unfortunate that some of them are in that coup with Abacha. They are traitors in Yorubaland, they can never be Afenifere,” he said.
Fasanmi on his part condemned the Fasoranti-led faction for not seeing anything good in the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, saying the Yoruba race had benefited from the Buhari-led government in terms of key appointments, influence and execution of key projects.
He said it was disappointing for anyone to desecrate the hallowed name of Awolowo with conservative political tendency as being espoused by the Fasoranti and Ayo Adebanjo group.
Fasanmi said: “The Fasoranti/Adebanjo group must henceforth stop talking on behalf of the Yoruba race because they have derailed. I am warning them that they should not put the Yoruba race on sale.
“The Yoruba race is comfortable with the progressives as being represented by the All Progressives Congress (APC), where the Yoruba is having the chunk of appointments.
“This has never happened even when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was President. I wonder what Fasoranti and his group wanted by their anti-Buhari posture except they want to tell us they are now against Chief Awolowo’s legacies which all Yorubas are still proud to associate with” he said.
In recent times, there has been an uneasy calm in the region over the activities of killer herdsmen who are believed to be of Fulani extraction. These bandits engage in nefarious activities such as cattle rustling, killings, arson, kidnapping and raping of farmers.
On several occasion, Falae’s farm which is located at Ilado Village in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State has been attacked by Fulani herdsmen.
The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) was kidnapped in September 2015 by the herdsmen but was released three days later following the intervention of President Buhari who ordered the then Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomom Arase (rtd) to secure his release.
In January 2018, the farm was again attacked and burnt down.
While the Fasoranti-led Afenifere has been vocal and highly critical of President Buhari for treating the attacks with kid gloves, the Fasanmi-led Afenifere has been somehow lukewarm in its approach, believing that the other Afenifere is playing politics with the matter owing to its dislike for President Buhari.
The killing of Mrs Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Pa Fasoranti in Ondo state a fortnight ago by bandits suspected to be herdsmen also showed the clear division between Afenifere leaders. While Afenifere claimed that the attack was carried out by Fulani herdsmen and said it is a declaration of war, Tinubu rubbished the claim and challenged those making the accusation to supply evidence that the cruel act was perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen.
The APC National Leader who spoke while addressing journalists after paying Fasoranti a condolence visit also said the tragedy should be converted to prosperity.
“It is a great opportunity to convert this tragedy to prosperity. It has been destined that is the way she would go. You cannot change what is ordained by God. You cannot change it. One way or the other, it can be death by road accident or any other means she will.
“It was just a premature death. Funke was very close to me. I have disclosed that. Only five days ago, we had a chat on Whatsapp with one another. I know what she discussed and even about baba’s health condition. So, we just pray that this one will not happen again.”
Tinubu, who also rubbished reports linking herdsmen to the murder, added that it was unfortunate some people were using the tragedy to score cheap political points.
“How many years ago have we faced insecurity in this country and cases of kidnapping? Is Evans who was arrested, and his disclosure, then a herdsman? I don’t want to be political. The question is where are the cows?
However, responding to Tinubu’s statement, Afenifere through Yinka Odumakin said Tinubu shou;;d have kept quiet rather than dancing on the grave of the deceased .
“Are we to start stigmatising the victims of herdsmen terrorism? That is a very insensitive and inconsiderate statement. It is more shocking that any rational being would go to the home of a 93-year old, who just lost a daughter to make such statement that amounts to dancing on the grave of the deceased”.
“It is very convenient to play cheap politics and such up to terrorists with the death of other people’s children. If the shoes were on his feet, would he be uttering such words? He should have kept quiet rather than making such reckless statements.”