Self determination: We can no longer stop our youths — Yoruba leaders warn

  • Sunday Igboho
    Sunday Igboho

    Govt has turned deaf ears to our outcries of injustice

  • Enough of disrespect for human lives

  • Nigeria has never been this divided

  • We must rise up to protect ourselves

By Dayo Johnson, Akure; Ola Ajayi, Ibadan; Rotimi Ojomoyela, Ado-Ekiti; Shina Abubakar, Osogbo; and James Ogunnaike, Abeokuta

Yoruba youth leader, Mr Sunday Adeyemo, better known as Sunday Igboho, who came to prominence after he issued an eviction notice to criminal herders in Ibarapa area of Oyo State last month has declared that it was time for the Yoruba to have their own nation to be called Oodua Republic, saying this is the year of freedom for Yoruba nation.

Speaking at an event which video has gone viral, Sunday Igboho lamented that the Yoruba ethnic group had been marginalized under the present government and he would soon lead other Yoruba youths to declare freedom from the Nigerian state.

He dared any Yoruba leader to campaign publicly for any elective post under the present arrangement. He reiterated his stand while speaking in Ibadan on Wednesday, declaring that Yoruba were no longer part of Nigeria. He said the Yoruba were now united and with traditional rulers backing them. He had said in the video that, “we are no longer interested in being part of Nigeria.

Before this becomes war, the United Nations must intervene because we want to go. We have gone beyond the point that we cannot keep quiet again. We are no longer scared to voice out. We are not safe anywhere; we can’t sleep in peace; we can’t travel in peace. What have we done; are we slaves?”

But how feasible is this Oodua Republic project for which Sunday Igboho vowed that there would be no retreat, no surrender until the republic becomes a reality? Reacting to Sunday Igboho’s declaration, some Yoruba leaders backed him while others expressed caution.

The Secretary General of Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Kunle Olajide said, “As far as we are concerned, the injustice in the country staring us in the face every minute is very annoying and discouraging. Much as we believe that the current administration would have a change of mind and enthrone equity and fairness, day after day we begin to witness gross injustice and ethnocentrism, that is very frustrating and this is why we are not quarreling with any of our children because their future is at stake.

If they believe that it does not appear as if this country is fair to them anymore and they are attempting to dissolve the union, we do not quarrel with them, we do not stop them.

We had believed in Nigeria and we had thought that the present administration would see reason with us. I was particularly impressed with the speech of the Vice President at the University of Sokoto, where he talked about equity, justice and fairness to all. But not quite 24 or 18 hours after, Justices of the Court of Appeal were appointed and only a handful of them came from the South.

So, it is difficult for us now to discourage our children who believe that it appeared we don’t have a future in this country. We are not quarreling with them, we would allow them to exercise their fundamental human rights within the Nigerian law.

The first law of nature is self preservation, so Yoruba people as human beings must dedicate themselves to protecting their lives and property. For too long we have abdicated the responsibility to the government but I think with the events of the last one year or two, we must now rise up to protect ourselves, protect our forest, protect our people.

I am in absolute support and we should do everything to encourage Igboho. Our lands have been invaded, over 80 percent of Okada riders in Yorubaland are from the north and you’re not too sure whether they are not armed. We are worried about the ethnocentric leaning of this administration in spite of various outcries of injustice. One can understand Igboho’s frustration just like many other youths because it appears this administration is not reckoning with any other section of this country other than the north. So many of our youths believe their future is not secured in this country”.

Chief Sola Ebiseni, a member of the 2014 National Conference and former commissioner, in his own reaction said, “when those who delude themselves that they have Nigeria and Nigerians in their pocket are impervious to reasons on the need for its structural reviews to meet the logical federal imperatives of its ethnic diversity, the vacuum thus wittingly or unwittingly created, is filled by the inevitable natural processes of change, beyond any philosophical or organised coordination. Unfortunately, the wind sowed by the deviance to change, arrived at through debates and multilateral intellectual guidance, is now yielding whirlwind all over the places, more vociferous at the backyard of apostles of unitarian centralisation. It is hoped that reasons will still prevail to pull us back from the very tip of the precipice of state failure.

Former Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Hon Zadok Akintoye, said, “for me, I believe Sunday Igboho is a reflection of the exasperation of the Nigerian people in the Nigerian state. His agitations are genuinely same with the larger majority of citizens down here who have observed the failure of the Nigerian Government to defend the rights of all Nigerians, irrespective of where they come from and what they believe.

Our country has never been this divided except probably during the civil war. Citizens are needlessly killed almost on a daily basis, citizens can no longer travel even short distances without the fear of being kidnapped, herdsmen became a clear and present danger to the existence of farmers and faith in governments’ ability to govern simply faded away. I support Sunday Igboho and do hope that others would rise up in their various geopolitical zones to demand that government either does what it was voted to do or allow citizens to protect themselves.

Otunba Deji Osibogun, Convener of Yoruba Koya and the Chairman of Space FM said he would align with Igboho because earlier calls for restructuring of the country were not attended to.

According to him, “when you want something restructured and it’s not being allowed, then you tend to do something to determine your future; that’s what Sunday Igboho is saying”. When asked if he would align with him, he said, “Yes, definitely. In 2017, we had a restructuring rally. That was when Yoruba said we wanted restructuring but two years later, I think Yoruba now want to change that restructuring to self determination. That is what we have now”.

Similarly, the Senior Elders Forum of the Yoruba Council of Elders, through its former National President, Dansaaki Samuel Adeleye Agbede said in order to avoid this kind of scenario, the elders have been calling on the Federal Government to see to the issue of restructuring of the country because it was evidently clear that things cannot continue this way.

He however reiterated that the elders would not support violence or bloodshed in any form, but that the government had not helped matters by turning deaf ears to the voice of reason by the elderly people. “We have been calling on the Federal Government to listen to us. We have been warning that the youths are angry. The way we see things, may be the government has another agenda which we don’t know but they seem not to be working or helping us.

It is true that the Federal Government gave a directive that anyone carrying AK47 should be shot at sight but the root cause which is open grazing has not been addressed. This has not got the presidential attention. President Muhammadu Buhari should make it a presidential order that open grazing is banned in Nigeria. If this is done, we will be reducing the rate of attacks and insecurity. Youths are worried about their future.

We, aged people, have little control over them when our advice is not being heeded by the government. The basis of our union should be put on the table. Let us form a new togetherness; do we want to alter this; what are the things we want to change. But, what do we do when the government is not listening. We can’t stop a group of people from venting their anger but what we are against is bloodshed. We have had enough bloodshed, that is why we are asking the government to listen.

The government has power but the way things are done now gives people in the South West some concern that they are being sidelined in the scheme of things. This is not good enough. This is making the youths to resist. You don’t expect them to fold their arms when they are being hacked down by the herders”.

READ ALSO: Igbo community in UK tasks S/East govs on protection of lives, property

A Yoruba cultural enthusiast and traditionalist, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon described the current situation in the country as devastating and called for a holistic review. He said, “The present situation in the country is very devastating and pathetic. It is a perfect example of failure of government. One even begins to wonder whether the country has not failed or on the brink of failure. I cannot imagine that we are in the same country that we were born into in the early 90s, we are more divided than ever and unfortunately our leaders seem to be the reason for the disunity in the country.

There is need for genuine discussion on the future of this country, where stakeholders will determine how best we can live in harmony and without compromising the safety of a section in favour of another. Sunday Igboho is a product of failed institutions, once a government cannot guarantee the safety of citizenry, then someone like Igboho must be supported to ensure lives and property of the people are secured”.

Nigeria’s former Minister of Transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, in his own response however stressed that the Yoruba should seek effective policing of the country rather requesting for its break up. “What we should request for is adequate and effective policing that will guarantee the security of lives and property of citizenry, irrespective of their place of origin or residence. Enough of this disrespect for human lives.

So basically, what I think Yoruba should seek is a properly structured and policed country. Then, the issue of Sunday Igboho, he is a product of failed institutions and if his agitation is about the safety of lives and property then he should be supported.

In his own reaction, the leader of Yoruba World Assembly, Chief Taiye Ayorinde, said “Igboho was referring to the amalgamation of this country that ended yesterday(Wednesday). Again, the Constitution that was said to have been made by all Nigerians is not a Constitution for us all. At the moment, the 1999 Constitution is a jaundiced Constitution because it doesn’t take cognizance of the presence of the membership of what is known as Nigeria.

They have Sharia in the North and something else in the South which means if a southerner goes to the north and commits an offence, he will be tried under Sharia law which is a nullity. The way Nigeria is being run now is like that of a military government where everything is done by fiat. The policy of Federal character is not being respected. At the moment, there should be referendum whether Nigeria should remain or every state should have its Independence. It is necessary for people to look into what Igboho has said whether he’s right or wrong”.

On his part, Chief Niyi Ajibulu , Secretary, Council of Ekiti Elders said, ”What we are saying and repeatedly saying is that we should go back to the basics, we are talking about restructuring, we are talking about about what we started before the military came and started their unitary thing and the rogue 1999 constitution, we are saying that they should all be jettisoned. We are saying that we should talk about how we want to stand in the entity Nigeria.

We are saying that the Federal Government has no business with all the responsibilities it has saddled itself with. We are not happy with the sharing formula. The country should be restructured in such a way that each state would control its own resources, whereby the exclusive list would be revisited and the state would have the power over its own security, it would have power over its own resources and primary health care and every other responsibility should be devolved to the state where the people are residing”.

The General Overseer of Pentecostal Sanctuary Bible Ministries (PSBM), Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Pastor Sunday Dare Iyunade has however advised Sunday Igboho to jettison his agitation for Oodua Republic, saying God has not approved secession plan for any region in Nigeria.

Iyunade said those behind the call for the disintegration of Nigeria, including Sunday Igboho should shelve the idea, but should work for the unity and progress of the country. He noted that any part of the country that attempts to secede from the present Nigeria would be doing so at its own risk, saying God has not approved such move.

He argued that the strength of Nigeria lies in its diversity, adding that the country was better as a one united nation than being divided. “The agitation for the breakup of Nigeria will only spell doom for the country and those behind the idea, any group or region that attempts to secede is fighting a lost battle”. He said that solution to the country’s problems lies in prayer, and asked Nigerians, irrespective of their religious affiliations to pray to God for divine intervention.

Igboho had claimed in a viral video that “as it stands now, we (Yoruba) are no longer in Nigeria. The Yoruba that are everywhere are larger than most countries, therefore we call on the international community and the United Nations to come and separate us.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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