The Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), led by the late Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, yesterday promised to mobilise support for the Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and other candidates of the party in the Southwest in next month’s general elections.
The deputy president of the socio-cultural group, Wasiu Afolabi, made the promise in Lagos.
He said the group resolved to police the votes of the electorate and enhance credible elections by resisting rigging.
Afolabi, who led members of the group to the Independent Campaign Organisation (ICG) office at Oduduwa Crescent, GRA, Ikeja, for a meeting with Sanwo-Olu; Campaign Manager Tayo Ayinde; his deputy, Cardinal James Odunmbaku and other committee members, said the interest of the Yoruba race remained paramount to OPC.
He said: “We have the power to vote; we have the power to defend the votes. These two objectives we will accomplish.”
The retracing of steps by OPC represented a critical and decisive political move by the organisation in post-Fasehun era.
Afolabi said talks between the late OPC leader and APC stalwart, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had started before Fasehun died.
According to him, surviving OPC leaders decided to put finishing touches to the discussion.
He added: “Let it be known that in the formation of the OPC by Dr. Fredrick Iseotan Fasehun, the National Leader of APC played a role. We are proud to be back home.
“Fasehun had put his differences with Asiwaju Tinubu aside. But he died when the group was about to finalise the agreement with him. We have resolved to cooperate with Asiwaju Tinubu. We will deliver the whole of the Southwest in the next elections. I have to thank our leaders who made this possible – Afolabi Salami and Olalekan Akintade.”
The OPC members were ushered into the campaign office by Ayinde.
Others at the meeting included former Agriculture Commissioner Enoch Ajiboso, Sesan Olarewaju, Bolaji Ariyoh, Wahab Alawiye-King, Pastor Cornelius Ojelabi, Wale Adelana, Hamid Olorunoje, Ololola Essien, Tokunbo Wahab, Chris Ekwilo, Durosinmi Adeboye, Gafar Toyin, Yetunde Arobieke, Bayo Ajisebutu and Sesan Daini, who was the master of ceremony.
Afolabi was accompanied by Alhaji Ibrahim Olarewaju, Chief Lekan Akintade, Women Leader Alhaja Taye Ibrahim, National Coordinator Mudashiru Adeniji and First Vice President Olasunkanmi Balogun.
Sanwo-Olu, who thanked the OPC leadership for the endorsement, hugged and exchange banters with the organisation’s officers and members.
He assured them that they will not regret voting for him.
Ayinde paid tribute to the memory of Fasehun, describing him as a patriot and great leader who was fortunate to be survived by competent deputies.
Also, Sanwo-Olu’s running mate, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, thanked OPC form its support, saying public perception of the group had changed from its characterisation as a militant body to a peaceful cultural group.
He said: “People used to think that OPC was a militant group, but you are not a militant group. You are a cultural group. There is peace in the OPC. It is a peaceful group and meant for the emancipation of the Yoruba.”
Urging the organisation’s members to gird their loins ahead of the polls, Ayinde added: “Get your Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) ready. We will work with our PVCs, not only in Lagos but also in other Southwest states. You should spread the message that your members should vote for President Muhammadu Buhari and other candidates of the APC in the Southwest.
“APC is the party that will take care of the OPC. We will sponsor your members for pilgrimage to Mecca and Jerusalem. We will do this government together. After voting, wait and defend your votes. Listen to the announcement of results. Follow the ballot boxes to the collation centres. Don’t fight there. Just give them security coverage. We have work to do. We want APC to lead. We will need your support. It is doable. It is achievable. By May, we will celebrate victory.”
Hailing the collaborative decision, Odunmbaku said the Yoruba will bounce back to national reckoning, adding that this is the goal of the OPC.
He commiserated with the group on Fasehun’s death, recalling that before his demise, there was a plan between him and Asiwaju Tinubu to have a political collaboration.
Odunmbaku added: “The surviving leaders of OPC have now finalised it and we are happy for the cooperation. Our director-general will not forget you after the polls. Who says OPC members cannot go to Mecca and Jerusalem?”
Alawiye-King called for dedication and consistency to the Sanwo-Olu project, assuring the peole that OPC will not regret the collaboration.
Essien said: “I am happy that OPC has women as members. Let us go back to our local governments and wards to mobilise for President Buhari, our governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives and Assembly candidates. You will police the votes for us.”