By Olusesan Laoye
Security concern in the entire Nigeria, but particularly the South West, and the activities of the Fulani herdsmen, which have heightened the impression that there is an agenda for the Fulani invasion of other parts of Nigeria, got to a climax last week in the South West, when all the socio cultural groups, traditional rulers, youths and the leaders converged in Ibadan, the political headquarters of the region to demand in a subtle manner for self actualisation, since restructuring which they were demanding for over the years has not been realised.
Before the largest gathering of these pan Yoruba groups, which include the most vocal and powerful ones, like the Afenifere, Yoruba Elders council (YCE) the Odua Peoples Congres – the militant group established to defend the Yoruba people – the agenda was the restructuring of Nigeria into federating units, based on the agreements reached by the founding fathers of Nigeria in terms regional governments with a weak centre.
But the present unitary system was imposed by the military after the military coup of 1966 followed by the various sate creations, which had reduced the federating units to mere appendages of the federal government. The system allegedly gave the opportunity for a particular section of Nigeria to dominate other parts of the country as evident in the present government which has cornered all the important positions in the country for its people.
The hope of Nigerians in electing Buhari was that things would change, at least on security, the economy, sharing of political offices and stemming the wave of corruption.
But since the present government came into office, it appears that Nigerians have been so more divided along ethnic lines because of concentrations of political offices in the hands of a particular ethnic group and this group wants to continue to dominate the rest.
The Fulani it was argued have conceived a plot to take over Nigeria and, as such, the herdsmen terrorising other groups are cat’s paw in this plan.
With all these going on unabated and with government not responsive to issues of adequate security, the South West, being one of the regions mostly affected, therefore clamoured for restructuring of Nigeria.
But now, the drum beat of restructuring in the south West has changed to self determination, which was the basis of the recent meeting of all Pan Yoruba Cultural organisstions that gathered at Mapo Hall in Ibadan last week. The gathering no longer asked for restructuring but in a mild manner demanded for self determination and the Oduduwa Republic.
All this was contained in the commumique on security, economy, agriculture and the mode of how they would be operated. Also all those who spoke at the meeting were resolute about the Yoruba nation and the development of the region, saying that the South West has been retarded with its inclusion in the country.
They said that when the South West was a Region it developed more than South Korea and even China, scoring the first in most things, including agriculture, commerce and industry.
The speakers believed that the only way out is for the region to stay alone and with the situation now in Nigeria which has given no hope to anybody, “it is rather too late for restructuring because the Nigeria arrangement has not favoured them”.
In his speech Professor Banji Akintoye, had said that with the ongoing travails, and marginalisations it has shown that members of the Yoruba ethnic group are now becoming slaves in their country.
Akintoye disclosed that Yoruba were now in a terrible situation with the sidelining of the race on the scheme of things.
“There cannot be a smoke without fire, although we don’t know where the fire is but we can see the smoke all around. Yoruba are in a terrible situation in Nigeria.”
Akintoye who also spoke a day before the Yoruba Congress under the auspices of Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination, (NINAS), noted that there was the need to cancel the coming 2023 general election and change the 1999 constitution, saying that the call was necessary because Nigeria cannot progress under the current political structure.
He argued that the 1999 constitution was the cause of major problems the country was currently facing.
He said that the group was giving the federal government another 30 day ultimatum after the expiration of the 90-Day Notice of Grave Constitutional Grievances issued by NINAS to the Federal Government of Nigeria on December 16, 2020.
He also warned international money lenders not to lend Nigeria any money because Nigeria was now a disputed project.
In his own speech the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland and lelader of the Odua People Congress, OPC, Iba Gani Adams said that the unity of the Yoruba race is important and the race must find means of protecting all her territories.
He pointed out that the Yoruba nation should now pursue her own agricultural policy that would make “us produce what we east.”
He said that the Yoruba nation is work in progress and “this is where Yoruba should think. There is an attempt to cripple the security system in the south-west. Fulani are not our problem, but our own people. I have information that Yoruba are the traitors among us. Whatever we do, we will not embarrass our governors.”
Adams also spoke on his meeting with the South west governors, and commended them for their cooperation in the fight against insecurity in the region.
“When I met governor Fayemi, he told me what the South-west governors have been doing on insecurity and I am pleased. He told me that Rotimi Akeredolu, the Ondo state governor, is their mouthpiece as the chairman of South-west governors, everything Akeredolu says represents all the governors’ thought. Don’t think Makinde is not doing enough; he knows what he is doing.”
In his own comment the General Secretary of the Yoruba Council of Elders Dr. Kunle Olajide said the activities of the Fulani have shown that some elements in Nigeria have declared a total war on South West.
He said the leaders of the region must rise up and do something before it is too late. He maintained that the option and the best way out is for each region to determine its future and grow according to the dictates of what is needed.
The Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde in his speech reaffirmed his support to the leaders of the Yoruba race, stressing the need for unity as a panacea for a better society. Makinde expressed delight at the gathering, saying the meeting was timely, coming at a time when the region is faced with security challenges.
The governor, however, promised to engage Amotekun and other security architectures in ensuring that Oyo state is safe for residents.
Chairman of the Congress, Mr. Sola Lawal expressed hope that the pan-Yoruba congress is an eye-opener for the race, arguing that the committee of this event did a good job in seeking a solution to the Yoruba socio-economic quagmire.
Meanwhile, the guest lecturer Prof. David Olusoji Adejumo said “Yoruba’s resolve to seek peace and tranquility in the southwest cannot be overrun by mere banditry, because the Yoruba have the capacity to boost its economy through enhanced agricultural templates and effective security,” he said the Southwest is the engine room of national progress, that the position of Yoruba cannot be overlooked in the development of the nation.
Mr. Akinbukola Idowu leader of one of the youths present at the congress, said as far as the youths of the Yoruba nation were concerned “it is now too late for restructuring.”
He said that in 1962 Awolowo was arrested and there was crisis for four years which led to the coup of 1966. He went further that in 1993 the election of a Yoruba man Chief MKO Abiola was annulled, saying that that the Yoruba have been losing out.
“To us the youths, it is too late for resource control and restructuring; all we want is that the South West wants to go it alone and get out of Nigeria which has been an impediment to the Yoruba nation”.
“Yoruba are not gaining anything since1914 and we are now categorical and serious about our demands. We were ahead of China, we had television before France; we were better than both North and South Korea, what have we gained? Nigeria has put us backward; we don’t want to go along anymore, we are ready to grow and develop and we shall pursue this to a logical conclusion without bloodshed.”
“That is why we are saying that it will be a shame for any Yoruba man at this point to keep talking about restructuring”.
Meanwhile, the communque from the meeting resolved among other items and unfolded plans to set up a security outfit to tackle insecurity in the Southwest. Named Southwest Security Stakeholders Group (SSSG), the new outfit will be led by the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, Gani Adams.