Chieftain of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Olu Falae, spoke at the weekend of how he can never again work with National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Bola Tinubu, because he (Tinubu) and some others “rebelled” against leaders of the group during the Alliance for Democracy (AD) days.
Falae, in an exclusive interview with Daily Independent, alleged that Governors elected on the platform of AD before the 2003 general elections had insisted that they could no longer be controlled by Afenifere leaders “and they said we were no longer their leaders. They broke away from Afenifere and became rebels.
“They teamed up with another rebel group within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to form the ACN.
“I am not a rebel. That is why I am not in ACN. Thank God, the youths they misled to form the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), many of them are now back within the fold of original Afenifere because they have seen the light. They now know that we are serving without selfish motive,” Falae said.
Tinubu, then as Governor of Lagos State, was a member of the AD.
But Falae claimed that Tinubu never won the AD primaries in 1999, and that God used him (Falae) to get Tinubu nominated as the governorship candidate to run on the platform of AD.
According to him, “Late Funsho Williams who won the primary election of the AD backed down after my intervention.
“I pleaded with Funsho Williams that by the grace of God if I become the president, I will give him legitimate recognition and opportunity to serve the country if he allowed Tinubu to become AD governorship nominee to save our leader, Pa Abraham Adesanya, the late leader of Afenifere, who announced him as the winner.
“Pa Adesanya was shot nine times by the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha’s men. His children prevailed on him to stop leading NADECO but instead he replied that the struggle had just started. Ironically, Tinubu turned round to destroy Afenifere.
“It was Williams who won the AD primaries but there were some disagreements in parts of Mainland Local Government and Ikorodu; Pa Adesanya settled for Tinubu as the winner of the governorship primaries simply because he (Tinubu) was a key leader during the NADECO movement against the military government under Abacha.
“Tinubu suffered in consequence and was in exile abroad while I was detained with others for two years in Nigeria. Pa Adesanya insisted that one of us who suffered should be governor so that he could rehabilitate others.
“General Alani Akinriade’s house was completely destroyed. My farm was over grown with weed when I returned from detention,” Falae stated.
While expressing belief that Yoruba land and Nigeria can still be better governed, he said “for 12 years, despite all Tinubu did to us, we tried to reconcile with them for the sake of our people.
“We have held more than 16 meetings both in Ijebu Igbo at the home of our late leader and thereafter in Akure, at the home of Chief Fasoranti, the current leader of Afenifere and again at Ibadan.
“We got late Justice Kayode Eso, Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi and Bishop Ladigbolu to reconcile us. Eso chaired a committee of eminent people to reconcile us but they never showed up.
“We tried through over 12 bi-lateral meetings. They did not make that possible. We got justice Eso, they never showed up. Finally, we got Mama HID Awolowo to intervene at Ikenne, they preempted the meeting by going there a day before the scheduled date.
“They vowed they would never sit with us on planet earth. Later, they themselves took an initiative to invite us to a meeting at Premier Hotel in Ibadan.
“Those who invited us to the meeting did not show up but we were there. Tinubu, Segun Osoba, Niyi Adebayo were not there. Only late Lam Adesina and Bisi Akande were there.
“So, when we endorsed Governor Mimiko for second term, they began to insult us. When they formed the ACN, we did not insult them.
“We have a right to belong to political association of our choice and we did. So can you now understand why we are not together? Very unfortunate, but they were the ones who were ready to run for governors as at 1999.
“They won election not because they were popular but on the strength of Afenifere. I was the one that raised the hand of late Adebayo Adefarati before he emerged as governor in Ondo State in 1999.
“The AD was formed by the Afenifere two months to the election. The South West people voted for the name Awolowo and because of Afenifere,” Falae explained.
Speaking on the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC), Falae explained that as the National Chairman of Democratic People’s Alliance (DPA), he was the chairman of Muhamadu Buhari’s campaign in the South West.
“All I am saying is that I have personal links with the leading members of APC.
“We don’t rule out any possibility. But the Social Democratic Party (SDP) is the one we are trying to revive and by the grace of God when that is operational very soon, all options are open because the bigger the better.