Leaders of pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, on Thursday came out of their haunting shadows to congratulate General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on his victory in last Saturday’s presidential poll.
At a meeting held inside the compound of Pa Reuben Fasoranti in Akure, Ondo, the leaders claimed they appreciated the “hard spirit” of General Buhari despite castigation on his personality throughout the electioneering period.
Afenifere leaders had endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan for a second term in office in what was seen as a bribe induced meeting orchestrated by the embattled governor of Ondo state, Olusegun Mimiko inside Pa Fasoranti’s residence in Akure.
But on Thursday, the Afenifere leaders retraced their steps and revealed “we only endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan because he promised to implement the recommendations of the National Conference if elected back to power. We didn’t collect money from him for such endorsement, and none gave us money as currently being spread”.
Saharareporters correspondent reports that among leaders present at the meeting were Chief Olu Falae, Bashorun Seinde Arogbofa, Korede Duyile and Femi Aluko.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the meeting, Pa Fasoranti said the election that gave General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) his “overwhelming victory” was free and fair.
He saluted the doggedness and irrepressible courage of the president-elect and disclosed that they -Afenifere leaders-have decided to pitch their tent with “the Peoples’ General”.
The elderly Yoruba leader added that they are now “partners in progress” with General Buhari and shared in his aspirations to develop the Nigeria.
He stressed the need for Buhari to restructure the country by starting with the implementation of the recommendations of the National Conference held last year.
“The country must be restructured for fair play and injustice, development of a sense of belonging opportunity for all to live happily together, enjoy gainful employment, have sound education, be accessible to good medical care and the need to be proud of our country.
"We also commend to you the implementation of the 2014 Confab report that encapsulates most of our yearnings to get the issues raised above carried out.
"We sincerely share your aspirations to tackle insecurity of life and property, stop insurgency like Boko Haram in our land, reduce unemployment, fight corruption in the body polity, and bring our economy to an enviable standard. We are partners in progress", Afenifere said.
The Afenifere leaders have also applauded outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan for conceding defeat by not tampering with the democratic principles of the country with his acceptance of the Saturday’s presidential election results in good faith.
They noted that such decision now doused the “lies” of foreign seers who predicted the break-up of the Nigeria. According to them, Jonathan had already laid a good foundation and example for coming leaders to follow by accepting total defeat.
“As the first Nigerian sitting head of state to magnanimously concede to defeat, he has demonstrated exemplary courage, laid a precedent of uncommon statesmanship, a rare demonstration of patriotism and sportsmanship. He has thus created a benchmark for our leaders to follow in whatever contest they may be involved in.
“By conceding to victory and not tampering with democratic principles, President Good luck Jonathan, GCFR, has laid a very strong foundation for democracy to thrive in Nigeria and set a good example for other Nigerian leaders to emulate.”
"By that singular personal decision of honorably admitting defeat when counting was still in progress, he had saved Nigeria when it mattered most, as, no doubt, some were warming up to drag out the war drums.
"He doused growing tension, calmed down frenzied nerves, and even though elections were not all over yet, put to lie foreign soothsayers' desire of the disintegration of Nigeria”,
Following Fasoranti, the former Secretary to Government of the Federation and National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Olu Falae said Afenifere leaders have always been on the side of General Muhammadu Buhari and cited his days while contesting under the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2007.
Falae disclosed how he raised almost N21 million for the campaign of General Buhari during the 2007 election with an agreement for the convocation of the National conference if he eventually emerged the country’s president.
The Afenifere leaders have unanimously agreed to visit the president-elect upon his assumption of office in Abuja after the inauguration.