The leader of Afenifere, a Yoruba socio-cultural group, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has said that a Southern Christian may never rule Nigeria again if Peter Obi loses the 2023 presidential election.
Reacting to this statement, an Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), observed that on the matter of Southern Presidency, Christians have been president and vice president seven times before whereas no Southern Muslim has ever attained that position. MURIC challenged Adebanjo to mention a Yoruba or any Muslim from the South who has been president or vice president of Nigeria.
This was disclosed on Saturday 4th February, 2023 in a statement issued by the director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
The statement reads :
“Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere, on Thursday 2nd February, 2023, said that a Southern Christian may never rule Nigeria again if Obi loses the 2023 presidential election (https://platinumpost.ng/2023/02/03/2023-if-obi-loses-christian-southerner-may-never-be-president-again-adebanjo/; https://ukdaily.news/a-christian-from-the-south-may-never-again-become-president-of-nigeria-if-obi-loses-pa-adebanjo-328591.html; https://www.thecable.ng/ayo-adebanjo-if-obi-loses-a-christian-southerner-may-never-be-president-again)
“It is clear from Chief Adebanjo’s statement that what he has been clamouring for all along is to enthrone another southern Christian as president. He finds it outrageous for a Southern Muslim, particularly of Yoruba stock, to lead Nigeria.
“Is it not paradoxical that the leader of Afenifere, a Yoruba socio-cultural group, will jettison his avowed ethnicity to clamour for another? It has never happened in the history of the Yoruba that a cultural leader (not a political leader) will don the garb of another tribe.
“The cat has been let out of the bag. Everybody can now see why Adebanjo has been opposing Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Muslim and a Yoruba, as a presidential candidate. It is not because Adebanjo does not know that Tinubu is a Yoruba. Nay and more than that. It is because he knows that Tinubu is a Muslim.
“The wind has blown. We have seen the ruff of the hen. Adebanjo now says it is because he wants a Christian from the South to become president and if Peter Obi fails in his bid, no Christian from the South may be president again. But Adebanjo is fully aware (and Nigerians also know) that Christians from the South have been president and vice president over and over again whereas no single Southern Muslim has ever been president or vice president. The question Adebanjo must answer is this: Is Southern presidency the exclusive right of Southern Christians?
“Brigadier Babafemi Olatunde Ogundipe was the de facto second in command to General Aguiyi Ironsi (1966), Vice Admiral Joseph Edet Akinwale Wey was the deputy of general Yakubu Gowon (1966 – 1975), Mathew Obasanjo has led Nigeria twice (1975 – 1979 & 1999 – 2007). Earnest Shonekan was interim head of state (26th August to 17th November 1993).
“General Donaldson Oladipo Diya was vice under Abacha (November 1993 to December 1997). Goodluck Jonathan has been president (2010 – 2015). Pastor Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo is still the vice president as we speak (2015 to date).
“Above are the names of seven Southern Christians who have ruled Nigeria. By their names, you shall know their creed. We challenge Chief Adebanjo to name just one Southern Muslim that has been president or vice president of Nigeria since independence in 1960. If he cannot find any, what justification has he to insist that another Christian from the South must be president again come 2023.
“Furthermore, we challenge Chief Adebanjo to name one prominent Muslim leader among the leaders of Afenifere. This is one of the reasons we still suspect Chief Adebanjo of hiding under the cloak of Afenifere to carry out an anti-Muslim cleansing operation in the South West.
“Chief Adebanjo is yet to respond to a question raised by MURIC two years ago about the fate of Yoruba Muslims if the Yoruba separatist nation which he has been agitating for becomes a reality. He does not reckon with Yoruba Muslims as deserving the dividends of democracy or eligible for fundamental human rights.
“Adebanjo’s insistence on another Southern Christian at this time is therefore most unfair to Muslims in Southern Nigeria. His comment is deceitful and unjustifiable.
“Nonetheless, we reiterate the fact that our preference for Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not necessarily based on his creed. We have picked Tinubu because of his competence, his unequalled political experience and uncommon pedigree. Pre-Tinubu Lagos was a centre of confusion. Tinubu touched Lagos and it became the indubitable centre of excellence. Nigeria needs Tinubu’s midas mien.”