April 24, 2024

Forum of Southwest leaders backs Tinubu for President

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Forum of Southwest leaders backs Tinubu for President

Etim Ekpimah

Sons and daughters of Yoruba race, on Monday, convened in Lagos State for a special summit to discuss the way forward ahead of the next Saturday’s presidential elections.

Elder statesmen, traditional rulers, religious leaders, frontline politicians, youth groups, and cultural and market leaders took a unanimous stand, adopting the candidature of All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

It was at the Yoruba and Southwest Leaders of Thought Summit hosted by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at Eko Hotels on Victoria Island.

Mr Gboyega Akosile, Chief Press Secretary to Gov Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, said Tinubu attended the summit in company of his running mate, Sen. Kashim Shettima.

Also at the event were the Ekiti State Governor Biodun Oyebanji, former Ogun State Governors, Aremo Olusegun Osoba and Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former Osun State Governor Gboyega Oyetola, APC gubernatorial candidate in Oyo State, Senator Teslim Folarin, first class traditional rulers across the Southwest and retired Methodist Archbishop of Ilesa and Ibadan, Pa. Ayo Ladigbolu, among others.

Besides, Council of Imams and Ulamah of Lagos State threw their weight behind Tinubu and Gov. Sanwo-Olu.

The stand, the Yoruba elders said, was taken after they thoroughly reviewed the situation in the country and examined programmes of all candidates vying to succeed the outgoing president.

The Southwest elders said their endorsement of Tinubu was predicated on the assessment of the APC candidate’s political trajectory and his ability to offer the kind of leadership the nation required in the next dispensation. They stressed that their decision to support Tinubu was a reflection of the political desire of the Southwest region.

Former Oyo Deputy Governor, Chief Sooko Iyiola Oladokun, who spoke on behalf of the Yoruba Leaders of Thought, described Tinubu as the most qualified person among the contestants, saying the Southwest would not sacrifice capacity on the altar of political correctness.

Oladokun moved a motion for the assembly to openly endorse Tinubu. The motion was seconded by Chief Akin Oluwadare, after which the assembly unanimously approved the resolution.

Other members of Yoruba Leaders of Thought at the event include Prince Oluyole Olusi, Otunba Gbenga Daniels, Prince Segun Adesegun, Princess Remi Adebowale, Engr. Adekunle Olayinka, Hon. Bayo Aina, Chief Mutiu Are, Chief Akin Oluwadare and Hon. Lolade Shonibare.

Tinubu described the solidarity as “overwhelming”, saying the wishes of the Southwest leaders were on the verge of becoming a reality.

The APC presidential candidate said winning his party’s nomination was not an easy task. After his victory at the primaries, Tinubu said he rolled out his campaign, during which he visited all 36 states to canvass for votes.

He told the Southwest leaders to put their minds at rest, stressing that he would coast home to victory.

He said: “We are on the verge of changing our story and charting a new path forward. We have won the ticket not only to stand for a good cause but also to show we have the capacity to deliver. We have done all required of us, after winning the party nomination.

“There is no state we have not touched across the country. Some people were even afraid, given the level of energy we have put in. They had thought our energy would fizzle out along the way, but we are as strong as the idea we represent.

“This evening, I urge you to go and put your mind at rest. We shall be victorious. This history unfolding before our eyes shall end in good memories for us. I am not going to reveal everything about this journey here; there shall be a day for that. Let us go out en mass and vote. We are bringing home the victory.”

Describing the move as historic, Sanwo-Olu said Tinubu’s endorsement by his kinsmen was appropriate, given the prominence brought to the Yoruba race by the APC presidential candidate in the politics of the country.

The Governor said Tinubu remained a detribalised politician and national figure who never subscribed to religious bigotry and ethnic profiling.

He said: “This is not about ethnic sentiment or playing identity cards. This endorsement is about identifying with a candidate who has the capacity and supporting someone who truly knows the road. We all have seen how has demonstrated his capability and capacity as Governor of Lagos and his achievements today speak for themselves.

“We believe Tinubu is the best candidate who can champion our country’s cause and turn things around in this difficult and challenging period. He is a committed democrat and it is by coincidence that Tinubu is a Yoruba man. Beyond this, he is a detribalised Nigerian who is truly gifted with the capacity to turn things around for good. This is his selling point, which makes him different from others without proven track records.”

Osoba recalled that Tinubu’s presidential aspiration was ignited in 2007 shortly after he completed his two-term tenure as Governor of Lagos, disclosing that all Yoruba leaders unanimously resolved that he moved to the national level.

The former Ogun Governor accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of frustrating various attempts by the Southwest leaders to unify the region under a political philosophy synonymous with the ideology of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

He said: “This is an auspicious moment in our history and I urge all the people of Southwest to come together and stand behind Tinubu. There is no tribe in Nigeria that never benefits from the economic system of Lagos. Yoruba race is happy with the status of Lagos today. Let us come out and support him. We must do this to bring Awolowo’s dream back to life.”

Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdul-Rasheed Akanbi, said Tinubu was standing for election in the most important period in the nation’s history, stressing that the APC candidate possessed the courage and intellectual capacity of the late Awolowo.

The traditional ruler said power must not remain in the North after the eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that he had personally reached out to Northern elders not to tinker with the power arrangement in the country.

The Northern elders, Oluwo said, pledged to keep their promise. He said Southwest citizens must work to ensure Tinubu’s victory next Saturday, urging Yoruba sons and daughters to fall in line with the elders’ decision.

Iyaloja-General of Osun State, Iyalode Hawau Sindemade, said Tinubu had built a reputation among the Yoruba people as a leader who usually stands with the masses.

She said the APC presidential candidate particularly created a platform for market women not only to have a voice in the socio-political movement but also opportunities for them to thrive.

“We cannot afford to continue to lag behind in Nigeria, we desire a unified leader who will represent our interests. Tinubu remains the leader,” she said.

Other Islamic groups and organisations that endorsed Tinubu and Sanwo-Olu are Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Nawair-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, League of Azthans in Lagos, and the Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN).

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