Afenifere’s clearly defined principles prevented it’s support of Tinubu’s 2023 presidential bid in the last election, and now even in governance due to President Tinubu’s neo-liberal economic policies that are diametrically opposite to Afenifere’s welfare economics. Afenifere humanistic principles of fairness, justice and equity applies to all, and not only Yorubas. The principles of political justice, economic justice, cultural justice are constantly reaffirmed in a pledge everytime the word, Afenifere, is chanted at meetings. When you stand up to address the group and call out Afenifere, the chorus response is Ire Owo (economic justice), when repeated again the response is Ire Omo and then Ire gbogbowa (political and cultural justice).
Due to the long conservative regimes of UK Thatcherism and US Reaganomics, to reclaim power leftwing parties moved away from their ideological positions to the Centre where Conservatism married Liberalism. Economic conservatism with Social liberalism. This led to the neo-liberalism economics that was nothing liberal in practice, being guided by powerful corporate and financial interests, with a top down supply side flow of resources and increased poverty. In Africa, our politics has been muddled with moneybags with neo-liberal policies that favors the monied local Neocolonialist cabals and their exploitative Globalist backers, at the expense of the Masses.
Afenifere has had to remain steadfast to it’s principles fashioned during it’s pro-democracy liberation struggles against the British colonists and military regimes. Especially now with greater poverty, sociopolitical injustices and cultural exclusionary politics that makes it obvious that focus has to remain with the people, not personalities. Afenifere is not just about ideological posturinng and pushing empty phrases like Justice or progressivism, but has broken down the egalitarian collective aspirations into actionable plans.
To start with, Nigeria being a multi-ethnic nation can’t advance without sociopolitical and cultural justice, which is why Afenifere became the arrowhead for restructuring and rotational presidency. Restructuring is based on cultural and sociopolitical justice to every group in Nigeria, regardless of how small, poor or distant. Afenifere’s restructuring is towards true federalism whereby power and governance is devolved from the center and brought closer to people to enable optimum and efficient use of our human and natural resources. A well balanced system when local government produces, state government accounts and federal government regulates. This involves Restructuring the unitary constitution to enable every group to be in control of their culture and local economy.
A corollary of the political restructuring agitation for cultural justice to enable every ethnicity to be effective members of the federation is the push for rotational presidency that ensure that every region is given access to lead and mould the collective. Therefore after backing the pro-restructing candidacy of Atiku in 2019 to complete one term for the North, in 2023 Afenifere pushed for the rotation to the South. Afenifere couldn’t have supported Tinubu or any Southwest candidate. Knowing Obasanjo had taken the Southwest slot and Jonathan for South South slot, Afenifere had to stick to it’s principles, regardless of the Yoruba-Igbo tribal rivalry, Afenifere took the moral high ground that it was the SE turn, and supported Peter Obi.
While Afenifere worked towards the indigenous African civilizational unity of South and Middlebelt peoples to push for restructuring of the constitution towards cultural justice, Tinubu aligned with the anti-restructuring Afro-Arabic North hegemony to continue the unjust status quo. So apart from grabbing the SE presidency slot, he would never truly restructure the constitution since it’s against the wishes of his Northern imperialistic Afro-Arabic civilizational backers.
Some political jobbers and opportunists under the guise of Yoruba unity preach that let bygones be bygones and work with Tinubu since he has bulldozed his way into power. Definitely there is a need to move from politics to governance, but they overlook the fact that Tinubu has not only contravene the political justice principle but his governance is also steeped in economic injustice.
Even if it was Yorubas turn, it is highly unlikely Afenifere could have supported Tinubu out of other Yoruba contestants due to opposite economic leanings and principles. Afenifere believes in welfare economics that focuses on uplifting the masses as opposed to Tinubu’s neo-liberal economic policies that only favors the rich. Previous Afenifere leaders like Awolowo and Jakande built social housing projects for the poor while Tinubu flaunts luxury Eko Atlantic estate devlopments for the super rich, a private sector idea and investment. Jakande built hospitals, schools and various social services in 4yrs while Tinubu has only favored the rich in 24yrs and even deported the poor to other states under Fashola.
Afenifere advocates heavy industrialization based on railway development, which has taken Tinubu’s team 24yrs in Lagos to build a mere 16km out of a minimum 160kms earmarked. Nationally, Afenifere requires the accelerated development of Lagos-Calabar railway, the most important economic liberating infrastructure in Nigeria, as well as Ilorin-Yola and Sokoto-Maiduguri railways. To achieve an integrated developed economy we must build railways to relink our civilizational economies, moving away from our neocolonial economy fashioned by the North-South railways built by the British, only to empty our lands of raw materials and to dump their manufactures.
Like the US Railroad boom from 1830s, the three East-West railways will spur an economic growth of 10,000% due to improved economic linkages and railways being the global launchpad into heavy industrialization. With all it’s components parts locally produced, there would be massive multiplier effects across the economy, especially byproduct iron and chemical industries. Any growth conscious and responsible should have railway development at the top of the list of things to do, but Tinubu prefers road transportation whose byproduct industry is the Agberos used for politics.
Ultimately, there are irreconcilable philosophical differences that any Afenifere fraternizing with Tinubu now is for self actualization and not for collective aspirations and development based on clearly defined principles. Therefore Afenifere can’t but criticize Tinubu’s policy direction and governance style.