Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
Yoruba leaders in South-west Nigeria are currently demanding a new order in Nigeria’s body politic to reinvent self for regional integration and overall development agenda of the six States that make up the zone.
This was the fallout of yesterday’s colloquium convened in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital by a pro-Yoruba political organisation, Yoruba Patriotic Movement (YPM) entitled: ‘Resetting the Yoruba Nations Agenda for Rapid, Systematic and Sustainable Development’, held at Jogor Event Centre.
To underscore the importance of the gathering, indications also rife that the zone may opt for a new political party ahead of 2019 general elections with a view to allowing majority of its people to come under one political umbrella “to demand a just, equitable, fully restructured and egalitarian society within the existing Nigerian state.”
The colloquium, chaired by former acting National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande, a former governor of Osun State, had in attendance Yoruba leaders across various political parties in the country. The leaders agreed that if a new party would not be founded, most of them could move enmasse into an existing party.
As it stands, the YPM wanted all political leaders and their followers, which cut across APC, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Accord, Social Democratic Party (SDP), Labour Party (LP) and others, to be in the only political party that would be established.
The meeting agreed that there should be Yoruba summit, Yoruba economic agenda and all Yoruba groups should register under the YPM.
In his address, Akande said the focal point of the programme centred on unity in politics among the Yoruba, irrespective of party affiliation, saying: “After this, whenever and wherever we will meet, even if not in my house, wherever we will meet, I must be there. However, we must understand our languages.”
Former Chief of Staff to ex-governor Adebayo Alao-Akala in Oyo State, Dr. Saka Balogun, who is the interim chairman of YPM, said: “We want as many as possible Yoruba politicians to be in the same political party. It might not be possible for all of us to be in the same party, but if most of us are in the same party, it would be more convenient for the agenda we plan to set to work out well.
“We are not seceding from Nigeria, but we are maintaining that we don’t want a situation where Yorubas will not be given due respect or honour it deserves in this country. It is not compulsory that we establish a new party; it is possible that we all moved en mass to an existing party. Such a party definitely won’t remain the same again.”
Former Senior Special Assistant on Political Matters to ex-president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe, also noted: “We cannot but have a Yoruba agenda as long as we are in Nigeria. We must have an agenda and it is not what we can come up with here (at the meeting). But we must note it that we must have one.
“On restructuring of Nigeria, most people are misinterpreting us (the Yoruba) that we want to secede, that is why we are clamouring for restructuring, it is not true. Yoruba believes in our handwork. In the days of the Awolowos, we can see what they made of the Western Region. Till today, both the state and the Federal Government have not matched up with that standard.
“We are clamouring for restructuring so that we can have independence to harness our sweat, hard work and intelligence for the development of our people. You can’t compare educational setting in Ibadan, Ile-Ife and other parts in the South-west with what is in practice in Maiduguri or Kano. One single piece of legislation cannot guide education throughout Nigeria; that is impossible.
“In our agenda, we must re-echo it that education should be the bedrock of the agenda. Whatever it will cost us, we should be ready to give it. If we say we should wait till when Nigeria is ready to determine where Yoruba is heading to, it may spell doom. The constitution of this country accepts that we are a federation. And as a federation, we have the grace to call all Yoruba nation that this is the path we wish to tread as Yoruba people.
“Let us speak with one voice, if Nigeria is not ready to restructure, or ready to implement confab report, let all six South-west states in Yorubaland agree to implement it. If we implement what is good for our land in the report, we create what is good for us in our states.
Present at the meeting were former Ambassador to the Philippines, Chief Yemi Farounbi; a leader of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC), Dr. Frederick Fasehun; Dr. Doyin Okupe, and former Military Governor of Lagos State, Gen Raji Rasaki (rtd).
Others include former Super Eagles chief coach, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde; former President General, Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), Chief Bayo Oyero; a chieftain of Accord, Senator Femi Lanlehin; Aare of Efon Kingdom, Dr. Kunle Olajide; Secretary to Oyo State Government, Alhaji Olalekan Alli, who represented Governor Ajimobi; Prof Soji Adejumo; and Mr. Tunde Adejuyigbe, who represented Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, were also among the dignitaries in attendance.