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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09LAGOS112 2009-03-11 12:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Lagos
Cable title:  

NIGERIA: AFENIFERE LEADER CLAIMS INCREASED

Tags:   PGOV NI 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000112 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2018
TAGS: PGOV NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: AFENIFERE LEADER CLAIMS INCREASED
RELEVANCE IN SOUTH-WEST POLITICS

Classified By: CONSUL GENERAL DONNA BLAIR FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).



1. (C) Summary: In a February 27 meeting with Chief Supo
Shonibare, Lagos State Chairman of the Yoruba socio-political
organization Afenifere, Shonibare explained that Afenifere is
playing an increased role as the principal socio-political
vehicle to promote social democratic values in the South-West
region of Nigeria. Shonibare claims that the time has come
for the people to rise up against inactive and corrupt
leaders, particularly those of the ruling People,s
Democratic Party (PDP) which have had tight control over the
region since 2003. The recent cases of the tribunal judgment
expelling Governor Olusegun Agagu (PDP) from the governor,s
office in Ondo State, as well as the court-mandated re-run
for the governorship in selected local government areas
(LGAs) in Ekiti State, give Afenifere hope that the PDP hold
on the South-West is weakening. Afenifere predicts that it
will not be long before Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State
abandons the PDP and affiliates himself with other non-PDP
governors. End summary.



2. (C) On February 27, Poloff met with Chief Supo Shonibare,
Lagos State Chairman of Afenifere, and long-time contact of
the Pol-Econ section. Shonibare explained that since
Afenifere,s emergence in the 1950s, under the leadership of
Chief Obafemi Awolowo, it has served as the leading
socio-political organization promoting the traditional values
of the Yoruba people who are the overwhelming majority in the
South-West region of Nigeria. The Yoruba have long-standing
values similar to those of Western social democrats, he
claimed, willing to criticize their leaders and call for
increased development and quality of life. Shonibare
observed that the South-West was the first region of Nigeria
to provide free education for all citizens, and the
citizens, desire to see more welfare projects remains
despite the high levels of corruption permeating the
political leadership, the worst offenders being some of the
People,s Democratic Party (PDP) governors.

Is Afenifere Still Relevant?


--------------------------





3. (SBU) Shonibare told Poloff that during the 1990s,
Afenifere branded itself solely as a social organization to
avoid conflict with the military regime. In the 1999
elections, Afenifere became a socio-political organization,
taking a leadership role in determining the political
direction the region should take. Rather than run for office
themselves, Afenifere leaders sought out individuals
who were not tainted by corruption and had little experience
in politics, Shonibare stated. Afenifere was successful in
that the organization,s members won the governorships of all
six states of the South-West. Just when the country was
beginning to grow as a democracy and re-institute the social
democratic values of the South-West, the 2003 elections went
in a different direction, he said, and Afenifere was unable
to secure positions for its "clean, untainted" candidates.
Since this time, the organization has struggled to retake its
position as a leading political force, and has been plagued
by divisions in the organization. Shonibare described the
Afenifere Renewal Group as a break-off, attempting to install
younger, more progressive leaders and shed the image of
Afenifere as an older, traditional, and irrelevant
organization.



4. (C) The local press has occasional reports of Afenifere
taking public stands in support of, and against, political
figures of the South-West. Leaders has been publicly active
in lobbying governors, political parties, and traditional
rulers, particularly in the changing political landscape
created by election tribunals and court decisions in Ondo and
Ekiti states. Shonibare said that this increased presence in
public life of the Yoruba South-West is intended to gear up
for the 2011 election. Afenifere is collecting popular
support and "bonding with the social polity" to support
candidates who will defend traditional values and overturn
the pattern of inaction and corruption that has emerged since
the 2003 elections.

Afenifere Strengthened by Election Tribunals


--------------------------




LAGOS 00000112 002 OF 002




5. (C) Shonibare claims that since the 2003 elections, PDP
leaders have used the patronage system and public funds to
fortify their own resources. He believes that such practices
are contrary to South-West and Yoruba culture, and that the
PDP will never be successful or able to hold its ground over
the long-term in the region. The recent election tribunal in
Ondo State, which forced out Olusegun Agagu (PDP) and
installed Dr. Segun Mimiko (Labour Party - LP) as governor,
as well as the court-mandated re-run for the governorship in
selected local government areas (LGAs) in Ekiti State, are
seen as opportunities to strengthen Afenifere support in
those states. The organization has openly supported the
judicial process that put the Labour Party in power in Ondo,
and is supporting free and fair elections in Ekiti, hoping
that the Action Congress (AC) candidate, Kayode Fayemi, will
win. This result would eliminate the PDP,s hold on the
majority of states of the South-West, he said.

Shonibare Predicts Ogun State Governor to Defect from PDP


--------------------------



--------------------------





6. (C) The Governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel (PDP), was a
member of Afenifere and the Alliance for Democracy (AD), the
main political party affiliated with Afenifere until 2003.
In 2003, Daniel ran as a PDP candidate, and has since been
affiliated with that party. Ogun State is considered the
center for the PDP in the South, especially since former
President Olusegun Obasanjo settled back into Ogun after
leaving office, and from where he continues to assert
influence over state, PDP, and national politics. The media
has reported extensively on conflicts of personality and
governance between Governor Daniel and Obasanjo, despite the
PDP spokesman,s statements to the contrary in an October
2008 meeting with Poloff. The second term Governor Daniel,
who appears popular with his constituents, may leave the PDP
within the next two years due to conflicts with PDP
leadership and long-standing support for Afenifere ideals,
Shonibare predicts, causing a shift the power base in the
region and removing support from the PDP that will weaken it
in the 2011 elections. Shonibare stated that Afenifere has
already privately requested that Daniel leave the PDP and
affiliate with another party, presumably the AC.

Moving Forward: Which Candidates to Ally With?


--------------------------

--



7. (C) Shonibare conveyed the difficulty that Afenifere has
in finding politicians and leaders with whom to ally. He
stated that in the South-West, the only options are to join
with the "less corrupt" or to recruit untainted new leaders
with their own resources to enter the political arena.
Afenifere continuously seeks to strengthen relationships with
social and political allies, and often looks to use these
relationships to strengthen the Afenifere position.
Nonetheless, Shonibare stated that Afenifere has drawn a line
on dealing with politicians seen to be massively corrupt. He
said former governor of Ekiti State Ayo Fayose was an example
of a politician so far beyond common corruption and
accusations of impropriety that Afenifere would not want to
be affiliated with him in any way. He added that while
Governor Oyinlola of Osun State has been accused of many
similar crimes (suppression of basic freedoms, misuse of
government funds), he has not yet reached the level of
Fayose,s corruption.



8. (C) Comment: With the increasing number of states going
non-PDP, Afenifere sees an opportunity to re-emerge as the
strongest unified political voice in the South-West.
Shonibare and Afenifere appear to be working overtime to
build relationships with emerging leaders like Mimiko in Ondo
and Fayemi in Ekiti. Shonibare implied that the battle is to
regain control from the PDP, and most of Afenifere,s efforts
between now and 2011 will be focused on reducing support for
the ruling PDP and installing new leaders who are less
embedded in the patronage system. Shonibare makes a strong
case that new leaders who play less PDP party politics will
be able to bring about the social and political reforms that
could lead toward real development.



9. (U) This cable has been coordinated with Embassy Abuja.
BLAIR