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 Yoruba elders disagree over South-West marginalisation

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PostSubject: Yoruba elders disagree over South-West marginalisation   2015-03-23, 14:30

OLUFEMI ATOYEBI examines the
divergent positions of Yoruba
elders on the 2014 National
Conference recommendations
In the last one month, the city of
Ibadan has hosted some elders of
Yoruba land on two occasions with
different verdicts passed on the
position that the South-West
geopolitical zone occupies in the
present administration and the
National Conference held last year.
The first of the meetings was
convened by the Governor of Ondo
State, Olusegun Mimiko, at the
Premier Hotel, where notable
Yoruba elders and politicians like
Ayo Adebanjo, Femi Okurounmu,
Richard Akinjide, his daughter and
Minister of State for the Federal
Capital Territory, Jumoke, Olu Falae,
Prof. Dupe Olatunbosun and others
were present.
At the forum, the kernel of the
communiqué arrived at was the
actualisation of the
recommendations of the confab as
it concerns the Yoruba race. The
participants were of the view that
only President Goodluck Jonathan
could actualise the
recommendations, calling for his
re-election on March 28.
But last Thursday, another meeting
convened by General Alani
Akinrinade, in Ibadan, which had a
different set of Yoruba elders, took
a different position. The only
common feature of both meetings
was that they were built around
the coming general elections and
Yoruba demands with the
presidential election being the
focal point.
The forum, pan-Yoruba Summit of
the Yoruba Assembly, berated
President Jonathan for
maginalising the Yoruba, pointing
out that the 2014 National
Conference failed to address the
issues germane to the evolution of
true federalism.
In a communique issued at the end
of the meeting, which had the
theme, “Yoruba people: Our
aspirations and minimum demands
from the central government of
Nigeria,” the forum described
Jonathan’s attempt at dividing the
Yoruba race because of his re-
election bid as the erosion of
Yoruba values and virtues, while
also affirming that the
marginalisation of Yoruba people
had reached the status of
deliberate policy of the Federal
Notably present at the forum were
former and present governors in
the South-West who are members
of the All Progressive Congress.
They were Oyo State Governor,
Abiola Ajimobi; Osun State
Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, former
Ekiti State governors Chief Niyi
Adebayo and Dr. Kayode Fayemi,
and former Osun State Governor,
Olagunsoye Oyinlola. The party’s
vice-presidential candidate, Prof.
Yemi Osinbajo, was also at the
In the communiqué, the Yoruba
elders expressed their concerns
over what they also described as
“calculated attempts to invade and
subjugate Yoruba land through
covert, disguised and even official
policies of the Federal Government.
This was seen in governorship
elections in Ekiti and Osun states
where fake and hooded combat-
ready militants were deployed
under the cover of official security
operatives, including the
Department of State Service, police,
and the Nigerian Army. Also, in the
name of job creation, Nigerian
youths are being trained and used
for partisan political purposes in
Yoruba land.”
The elders, who kicked against the
absence of social infrastructure and
the collapse of the existing ones in
the region, also expressed worry
over insecurity, pointing out that
the resolution of the National
Conference had failed to address
key issues in the nation’s polity. In
one of their key demands, the
elders urged the Federal
Government not to tamper with the
dates of the coming elections.
“The resolutions of the National
Conference failed to resolve
fundamental issues that are
prerequisite to a sustainable
federalism and without which the
few useful recommendations
would become meaningless. We
insist that the 2015 general
elections must hold as scheduled
and must be free, fair, credible, and
“For the past 16 years, Yoruba
people have suffered
marginalisation within the Nigerian
state, the Yoruba Assembly,
therefore, calls on Yoruba people to
vote for leaders who have their
interests at heart in order to bring
an end to this unacceptable state of
The elders also agreed on a 10-
point demand which centred on
the unity and safety of the Yoruba
as a people within the national
entity. Part of the demands are the
creation of a structural
environment for effective
devolution of powers to the
country’s constituent units as a
strategic development plan, a
repeal of laws and policies that
stifle the creativity of the Yoruba
people and facilitation of a fully
diversified economy.
Among other demands as
contained in the communique, the
Yoruba elders want, “The
dismantling of all pseudo-security
agencies that impede peace, harass
and terrorise her citizens in order
to enforce pre-determined agenda
that are not consistent with the
wishes of Yoruba people. Removal
of all bottlenecks in the way of
provision of effective and efficient
transport system, electricity supply
and petroleum refining
infrastructure. The facilitation of a
fully diversified economy, moving
away from the existing mono-
product scenario to one in which
the federating units can leverage
on their endowments and
productive resources.
“Finally, Yoruba people hereby
state categorically that the general
elections scheduled to commence
on Saturday, March 28, 2015 must
not be postponed or jeopardised.
Yoruba people will not
countenance any form of unelected
government, be it Government of
National Unity, Interim National
Government or, howsoever,
While the earlier meeting of the
Mimiko group stated in clear terms
its support for Jonathan, the Yoruba
Assembly made an attempt to
dissociate itself from being partisan
but the participation of Osinbajo
and APC governors at the forum
made the meeting to be seen as
favourably disposed to the APC.
In his remark, Osinbajo stressed the
doctrine of adherence to truth as
laid down by the late Chief Obafemi
Awolowo, saying that the
exemplary qualities of good nature
as enshrined in Yoruba worldview
would be affirmed when the APC is
voted into power.
“Though we have been given a
second position, we shall not
betray the trust. Yoruba don’t
betray trust. We are going to hold
the fort appropriately and ensure
that all the vices bedevilling the
nation are erased as from March
28,” Osinbajo said.
After condemning the action of the
Odua Peoples Congress in Lagos,
Governor Ajimobi went further to
plead for the dethronement of the
PDP-led government in the
country. He also pointed out the
extent of the maginalisation that
Yoruba has suffered since Jonathan
became the President.
He said, “It will interest you to note
that in the wheel of power at the
centre, there are only two Yoruba
people. Indeed, out of the 50 most
powerful men and women in the
executive, legislative, judiciary and
even security components of
power in Nigeria, there are only
two Yoruba people.
“Yoruba nation must collectively
resolve whether we want to
continue to remain in the current
servitude under the PDP or liberate
ourselves from the shackles on our
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