HEADLINE | Posted: Thursday, April 1, 2021
*No to secession-Alake
*Clamour for Oodua Republic is long overdue-Gani Adams
*It's secession or nothing -Akintoye
*Secession, restructuring pointing to same thing-Okurounmu
*Secession too heavy, consequential-Senior Elders Forum
*Wewant new constitution, not restructuring or secession-YCE
*Oduduwa Republic is our right-Omololu, Afenifere chieftain
*It's either Oodua Republic or…, YOV insists
By Dayo Johnson, Dapo Akinrefon, Ola Ajayi, Rotimi Ojomoyela & James Ogunnaike
THE agitation for Oodua Republic has continued to generate mixed reactions from various stakeholders across the country.
The clamour for the secession of the Yoruba nation from Nigeria is gradually gaining momentum in the South-West, but the move is not generally accepted by all stakeholders in the region, who expressed divergent views on it.
Similarly, various groups like the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, as well as Niger-Delta ex-militant leader, Asari Dokubo, are agitating for Biafra Republic.
But the agitation for secession has, however, been met with stiff resistance as President Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday, that Nigerians are better and stronger together in the entity called Nigeria, noting that he defended the unity of the country as a soldier during the civil war between 1967 and 1970.
The President spoke virtually from Aso Villa as chairman of the 12th Bola Tinubu Colloquium, titled: Our Common Wealth: The Imperative of National Cohesion for Growth and Prosperity, to celebrate the 69th birthday of All Progressives Congress chieftain, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in Kano.
Buhari had said: "Despite occasional inter-ethnic tensions in our national history, it seems to me that we have all agreed on one point, that notwithstanding our diversity or ethnicity, culture, language and religion, Nigerians are better, even stronger together."
Clamour for Oodua Republic is long overdue-Gani Adams
However, the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams has said that the clamour for the Oodua Republic is long overdue adding that the call for self-determination was a true reflection of the present mindset of all Yoruba sons and daughters in the diaspora.
Similarly, the coalition of over 174 Yoruba groups in Diaspora, Yoruba One Voice, YOV, restated its avowed commitment to the actualisation of the O'odua Republic, saying the call for self-determination remains the last option for the Yoruba nation.
Speaking during an International Webinar conference where over 1000 participants from all over the world expressed their readiness to seek justice and liberty for the South-West region, Iba Adams threw his weight behind the agitation for the Oodua Republic.
The Yoruba generalissimo restated his beliefs in the ability of the Yoruba nation to recreate a better nation, stressing that the destiny of the Yoruba people has always been in their own hands.
He said: "YOV is a coalition of all Yoruba groups and socio-cultural organisations in the Diaspora that came together to rescue the Yoruba race from a rudderless nation called Nigeria. We decided to raise our voices against the unjust system that had for a very long time become the nemesis of our race.
"A race of about 200 million people spread across the world, cannot continue to play a second fiddle in a country called ours. We cannot continue to live in self-denial and complete hopelessness."
Earlier in his welcome address, Secretary of YOV, Dr. Shina Okanlomo gave reasons for the parley, saying Nigerians of Yoruba descent in the diaspora are worried about the growing trends of insecurity in the country.
Okanlomo, while admitting that the Yoruba race remains the most progressive and forward-looking race, lamented that the South-West was always at the receiving end, despite the obvious fact.
"In the past, the progressives' ideas and philosophies of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo as Premier of the Western Region became the focus and templates for regional growth and development, especially for other regions. The glory of those years was noticeable in education, economy, infrastructure and other sectors, but today, the South-West has been zoomed out through a systemic political intrigue that tends to destroy our values for a just society."
No to secession-Alake
But the Alake of Egbaland and Paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo called on those calling for secession to shelve the idea of dividing the country, just as he warned that Nigeria must not be allowed to fail.
He also advised Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, political or religious affiliations, to work together for the overall development of the country.
The monarch also said that the success of the black race is dependent on Nigeria's ability to overcome its challenges of division.
He said: "If Nigeria failed as a country, the entire black race had failed.
"Nigerians, wherever we go, we must see ourselves as nationals of the same country, people of the same blood.
"We must work together to make Nigeria, Nigeria must not fail; if Nigeria fails, the black race has failed and may it never happen.''
Secession, restructuring pointing to same thing -Okurounmu
For former Secretary-General of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Senator Femi Okurounmu said: "The two agitations; secession and restructuring are pointing to the same thing. The two agendas mean the same thing. The call for secession is conditional."
Okurounmu also said that "if there is a restructuring of the country, there would be no need for secession. But if there is no restructuring, every component of the country may want to go its way."
Secession too heavy, consequential-Senior Elders Forum
Reacting to the issue, the Senior Elders Forum of the Yoruba Council of Elders, through Col. Samuel Agbede (retd) said the word "secession" is too heavy and very consequential.
To him, he feels self-determination is more subtle and a better way to solve this quagmire.
Agbede said: "The situation we are having now is that there are two distinct groups in Yorubaland with different views. These are the political class and the masses. The political class is not keen on the Yoruba Republic because of their structure in governance; because of the sumptuous life and advantage they have in the Nigerian system at the moment.
"We always complain of having problems with this system but it's a mighty piece of cake from which all politicians are taking their bits and are enjoying it. So, it is difficult for them to see how terrible the masses are suffering once they get votes from them.
"If the masses can be killed in a large number on daily basis, it doesn't touch their emotions or spirit. What they are focusing on is 2023.
"The second group who is very keen on self-determination (I won't want to use the word secession because it is very heavy and the implications are great) is the masses.
"The issue of restructuring is a polite way of asking for self-determination. The views of our people, particularly the Senior Elders Forum of YCE, are that youths are the people who are taking the brunt of this punishment and they are angry.
"Yes, some of them are misbehaving but it's left for the elders and senior elders of Yorubaland to relate with them and call them to order. You can't start chastising or abusing them. They don't know the implications of some of their utterances and behaviour.
"We, Senior Elders Forum of YCE don't oppose Sunday Igboho because he is the one who has brought the problem we are facing to the limelight. We must give him the credit that he has brought out the problem of the people to the fore.
"I don't think calling for secession is the outright way or best approach. We are saying that in the 1914 Lugardist amalgamation, there was an agreement and this has expired. We should sit down and fashion out another agreement after 100 years.
"If the FG says no to restructuring or self-determination, it means they have driven a sheep to the wall and it will look back and bite because there is a limit to human endurance. You can't enslave people and show them that you are enslaving them.
“There's nowhere in the world that people would not want to free themselves from slavery," he added.
It's secession or nothing else -Akintoye
A foremost Yoruba leader, Professor Adebanji Akintoye, in a viral video, said that since Fulani marauders continue to kidnap, rape, kill and maim his people, they would have to defend themselves.
Akintoye said: "We have to defend our land. If those factors of kidnapping, raping, killing and maiming our people are not there, we will fight for self-determination in a peaceful, noiseless way and achieve it.
"Thank God for a patriotic and loyal person like Sunday Igboho. He mustn't be considered a desperado, he's a young man who can't stand the brutalization of his people. Since he came, very many young Yoruba men have arisen to defend their people."
We want new constitution, not restructuring or secession-YCE
Perhaps towing the path of the Senior Elders Forum, the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, said it was not interested in restructuring or secession but a new constitution where the central government would devolve much of its powers to the state and local governments, where the majority of Nigerians live.
YCE's Secretary-General, Dr. Kunle Olajide said: "We do not want secession, what we want is a brand new constitution, not restructuring, I do not like the word restructuring, it is loose, what we want is a new constitution, there is no way you can continue to amend this constitution and get the result that you require.
"The people who ought to amend the constitution themselves are part of the problem of Nigeria. The political system is the problem of this country, it is the major problem, the presidential system is not right for Nigeria at our present level of development, and it's very expensive and heavily monitised.
"What the YCE wants is a new constitution written by the Nigerian people. Truly federal, where each federating unit will be enabled by that constitution to explore, exploit and deploy its resources according to what he considers its priority. The type of constitution we had at independence, the first republic era, is what we want and not secession. Secession is a very hostile language as far as I'm concerned."
Oduduwa Republic is our right -Omololu, Afenifere chieftain
The National Organising Secretary of Afenifere, Agagun Kole Omololu, also lent his voice to the raging controversy, saying Oduduwa Republic is the fundamental human right of the Yoruba race.
The Afenifere chieftain said: "Nigeria is not working and it cannot work with the way it is. The hegemonic tendency of the Northern Fulani has destroyed Nigeria. No region is at peace. Barbaric Fulani bandits have taken over Nigeria. No sane international investors will bring their money to an unsafe country.
Nigeria should not push us out of Nigeria for which we have laboured so much as co-labourers.
"We have to guide the likes of Sunday Adeyemo to operate within the law. Asking for Yoruba autonomy or the Oduduwa Republic is their fundamental human right. It is up to Nigeria to handle their demand with wisdom."
Yoruba must eschew bickering -Agunloye, ex-Defence Minister
Also, a former Minister of State for Defence, Dr. Olu Agunloye, posited that: "What is paramount now is for the Yoruba nation to eschew politics, self-interests, procrastination and bickering; deploy all resources within the land to galvanise a meticulous Defensive Action Plan complete with strategies, schedules and schemes to be driven by select leaders (including the governors) and subgroups to protect the commonwealth and future of Yorubaland.
"We simply have had and heard enough of passing the bucks. It is time for a well-articulated and focused action plan to save the future."
Yoruba must be united -Senator Tofowomo
On his part, the lawmaker representing Ondo South Federal Constituency, Senator Nicholas Tofowomo called on stakeholders in Yoruba land to be united if they want to achieve their goals.
Tofowomo said: "The Yoruba nation cannot be achieved with the division among the Yoruba leaders, men and women of the Yoruba dynasty. Some are saying one Nigeria while some are agitating for a nation. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
"You can't achieve a nation without oneness, without a meeting or platform where everyone would come together to discuss to disagree and agree.
"As for me, I have a different view. There are different ways we can solve our problems and remain one Nigeria. With the implementation of the National Confab report of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's problems would be solved. Many problems such as inequality, injustice, imbalance, ethnic crisis, with many other challenges, would be addressed.
Yoruba have no leader -Akintoye
A political analyst, Mr. Zadok Akintoye, said: "The question of what the Yoruba want from Nigeria has not been collectively defined. While the larger majority of Yoruba feel a sense of disappointment with the Nigerian state, the collective leadership of the people across political, religious and cultural divides has not been able to form a quorum. It is quite revealing to the discerning mind that the agitation for justice in Nigeria has shown that the Yoruba nation does not have a united pro-Yoruba leadership."
Restructuring is the way out-Ebiseni
A member of the 2014 National Conference and Afenifere chieftain in Ondo State, Chief Olusola Ebiseni, said: "Afenifere has unequivocally, through the years, advocated the restructuring of the federation substantially in tandem with our founding constitution. These have been debated, moderated and agreed upon in non-governmental and governmental fora, the latest being the Resolutions of the 2014 Conference.”
This administration, through its party, APC, also set up its Committee on Federalism; headed by Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State, which reports were virtually a carbon copy of the 2014 Conference Resolutions."