Afenifere chieftain and former lawmaker, Senator Femi Okurounmu, has denied the allegation by 93-year-old Senator Ayo Fasanmi, insisting that the Yoruba socio-cultural group has not endorsed Atiku Abubakar or any presidential candidate whosoever.
Okurounmu also described Fasanmi as “a stooge” of the All Progressives Congress chieftain, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Okurounmu said this during a telephone chat with our correspondent while responding to an interview Fasanmi granted Sunday PUNCH, wherein he (Fasanmi) excoriated the leadership of Afenifere for allegedly supporting the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Fasanmi had accused Afenifere of supporting Atiku because of money.
In his response, however, Okurounmu said Fasanmi, who was a senator from 1979 to 1984, had “allowed himself to be compromised by Tinubu and other APC governors” who he said “had failed to replicate the legacy” of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Okurounmu alleged that Fasanmi was the one who encouraged Tinubu and others in the Alliance for Democracy to “disobey Afenifere during the 2004 party crisis.”
The former lawmaker said rather than caution younger politicians, Fasanmi formed the Afenifere Renewal Group, “which had no connection with Awolowo’s philosophy.”
Okurounmu said although Afenifere had made it clear that it would not be supporting President Muhammadu Buhari because of his negative views towards restructuring, the group had not yet endorsed Atiku or any other candidate.
Okurounmu said the “APC and Buhari were diametrically opposed” to Awolowo’s ideology, especially in areas such as free and quality education and fiscal federalism.
The Afenifere chieftain said that during his lifetime, “Awolowo stood against Buhari” and that “it would be unjust to use the late sage’s name to promote Buhari’s re-election bid.”
He said, “Chief Fasanmi is someone I respect so much, but I am disappointed in him today.
“First, he is not even a member of Afenifere. He left since 2003 when the AD governors rebelled against Chief Abraham Adesanya and tried to make private dealings with Obasanjo when they were seeking a second term and were, in turn, betrayed by Obasanjo and failed, except Tinubu.
“So, Fasanmi cannot claim to be a member of Afenifere. He set up the Afenifere Renewal Group, which is opposed to the ideals of Chief Awolowo.
“We (Afenifere) are opposed to Buhari because he has failed Nigeria, especially in the area of restructuring.
“Fasanmi, in his old age, is a stooge of Tinubu, when he should be giving direction to younger men.
“He is being led by Tinubu and others. He has been their stooge since 2003.”