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Afenifere and the progressive camp (2), by Abiodun Komolafe 

Well, the threatening truth is that Afenifere is down and the progressive camp is beaten! So, when will Yorubaland laugh and when will the progressive camp shout uhuru?


Afenifere and the progressive camp (2), by Abiodun Komolafe

In the course of the week, I had cause to be at the Akure, Ondo State-home of the Afenifere Leader, Reuben Fasoranti, and I saw modesty in its raw form. From Fasoranti’s symbolic bungalow which has played host to presidents, governors and other crème-de-la-crème of the society in their monstrous agbada or Babarigas, to the information gleaned from Nigerians in and around his residence, yours sincerely couldn’t stop marveling at the Spartan lifestyle of this 97-year-old Awoist. Anyway, that’s a story for another day!

Well, the threatening truth is that Afenifere is down and the progressive camp is beaten! So, when will Yorubaland laugh and when will the progressive camp shout uhuru? When will our land smile again and when will Yoruba leaders wake up and face reality? When will they appropriate the social capital as it was in the days of Egbe Omo Oduduwa, whose existence wasn’t structured around tea party or ‘owambe’? Right now, the Yorubas are behind in terms of capital formation, financial intermediation and allied stuff. Of course, we have never been this behind in a century and a half! Even at the time of the Kiriji War, the Lagos Colony was very advanced, vis-à-vis the rest of Africa, save for South Africa.

For now, what Yorubaland refers to as strength is just the property values of a few capital cities like Lagos and Ibadan. Take that away, what remains is zero capital strength, compared to what obtained in the 1920s and the 1940s, up to the 1960s. So it’s like basking in the euphoria of past glories! Take, for example, the Banks created by our heroes past were not just Banks but strategic financial institutions.

Had successful generations of Yoruba leaders stayed faithful to the cause, National Bank and Wema Bank would have become the biggest, dominant financial institutions in Africa outside of Standard Bank in South Africa for, whereas Central Bank of Nigeria is talking about N500 billion naira paid-up capital, Standard Bank of South Africa already has a paid-up capital of $13 billion, which of course makes ours a joke.

So, how can Afenifere restore the strength of the Yorubas and let their eyes receive sight and how can the progressive camp make everything perfect at its time? Interestingly, while the former seems to have been demobilized by political partisanship, the latter, as it is, is walking on its knees and somebody needs to create a positive narrative before players in the sector completely hijack its ideological relevance.

Talking about the progressive camp, yours sincerely wasn’t a small boy during the ‘June 12’ crises and the roles played by Frank Ovie Kokori and other prominent Nigerians, all in a bid to bequeath a lasting democracy to Nigeria. The then Secretary General of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) was hounded into prison and could only heave a sigh of relief after death struck Sani Abacha like a thief in the night. Thereafter, Kokori lived unsung and died like a pauper, which was a devastating indictment on the progressives.

READ ALSO:Afenifere and the progressive camp (1), by Abiodun Komolafe 

When he launched his book, ‘Frank Kokori: The struggle for June 12’ in 2014, reports had it that only Segun Osoba attended the event among “the ensemble of characters who led the famous June 12 struggle.” Others simply slept beside their wives in the comfort of their homes, which was a disgrace of monumental proportion to the bent. It’s even on record that when Kokori was in Bama Prison in Borno State, only Osoba was paying regular visits and rendering financial assistance to his (Kokori’s) family. Yes, that’s the kind of progressive class we are dealing with in Nigeria!

But Kokori wasn’t alone in this progressive embarrassment. Ola Oni! Akin Makinde! Chima Ubani! And others! They’re an unforgettable part of the struggles that eventually brought Nigeria to where she is. But didn’t the country they served with all their strengths abandon them when they needed it most? I doubt if any of the friends in power even remembers the likes of Alfred Rewane, Babatunde Elegbede, Olu Omotehinwa, Bisoye Tejuosho, Suliat Adedeji, Shola Omosola and Bagauda Kaltho who paid the ultimate price for us to get to this pass! Abiola and Kudirat, his wife, are only lucky that they have some few monuments named after them; and the reason is simple! We are even hearing that Governor Ademola Adeleke is planning to rename MKO Abiola Airport in Ido Osun, Osun State after Isiaka Adetunji, his late brother and former governor of the state. Well, Nigerians hope it’s fake news; and it had better be!

In sane climes, the progressives are supposed to be the main drivers of social change. But is that happening in this part of the world? If we couldn’t honour people like Kokori for their active, frontline roles while they lived, it only goes to show that everything about democracy in Nigeria is self-centered, half-hearted and transactional. Had Kokori for example been honoured, maybe the man would still be alive today!

John McCain was an American senator who had his own distinct mind. He went to school. He also maintained tradition. He was a “soldier of soldiers” who fought for his fatherland. In the process, he was captured and almost killed. But, as fate would have it, McCain ‘graduated’ to a Prisoner of War (POW). After his release, he came back to the USA, again, to serve his fatherland until death. Even, in death, the Senator from Arizona remained justified for the actions he took while he lived. Now, look at McCain’s children and what they are achieving for selves and fatherland?

In the considered opinion of this writer, this is not the time to forget those who risked what they had for what the country needed but now lack the voice and the mobility because of dispensational factors or nature of their creation. To get out of the woods therefore, Afenifere has to set out the real development agenda with the ferocious finesse that will define its very boundaries and prescribe the landscape of institutional democracy for the Yoruba nation. It is unfortunate that the region is falling so behind, especially in times of credit and this is not too good for us! So, we need a leadership that will celebrate not only the generations of love among us but also the legacy, inspiration and the testimony of our founding fathers.

More than ever, the Yoruba nation needs an established culture of political consciousness that can demand and stand for its rights and a Development Agenda that can truly negotiate the future, capture the interests of the race, synthesize and stick to the needs of the people, and entrench a system of democratic awareness in the people. Again, this is where DAWN Document and Yoruba Academy come in! Let Afenifere rethink its vision and work with the state governments in the region on how to make things happen!

As a Yorubaman, President Bola Tinubu has an important role to play in ensuring that the race doesn’t go extinct and this is a historic opportunity for him to spearhead a federalist agenda, which was what Awolowo and, indeed, most of his colleagues from the other regions, had always believed in and fought for. A proper federalism is what is of utmost benefit to Yorubaland and everything will fall into place! Of course, that’s the biggest legacy Tinubu can bequeath to Nigerians!

Last of all, isn’t there an urgent need for the progressive icons in Nigeria to call a solemn assembly for the revival of the hopes of their forefathers?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!


KOMOLAFE wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

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