Recently some Southwest leaders in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) met in Lagos and implored groups involved in agitations for self-determination to desist forthwith. Their position have, however, triggered several reactions form concerned Yoruba groups and individuals.
In the second of nine resolutions arrived at the meeting, convener, Chief Bisi Akande expressed strong opposition to separatist agitations and hate speeches. The leaders directed those indulging in such to desist forthwith while expressing their belief in the unity, stability and sustainability of the country.
But there have been mixed feelings that the Southwest leaders failed to engage the separatists groups on how take the country out of its present security predicament, which is believed to have been aggravated by the menace of armed Fulani herdsmen, whose activities have been perceived as threat to the existence of other ethnic groups in the country, especially the southern region.
The Southwest APC leaders were vilified for not engaging the agitators to sample their opinions on how to address the inclination that Fulani ethnic group had been parading itself as being superior to other ethnic nationalities in the country. One of the grouses against the APC leaders is that those invited to the meeting, in the first instance, could not have represented the entire leaders in the ruling party, let alone the entire Yoruba race.
Secondly, observers also disagreed with resolution number two on the ground that the factors that triggered the agitations for secession across the country could not have been treated with party sentiment as the leaders, who assembled at the Lagos State House Marina, are perceived to have done last Sunday.
Aside from the resolution number two, which generated criticisms, other demands by the Southwest APC leaders seem to align with positions of the agitators, who insisted that as long as the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari remains repugnant to recommendations of the 2014 National Conference or restructuring of the present system, the option is for ethnic nationalities making up Nigeria to go their separate ways instead of the current situation where the Fulani reigns over others.
On another hand, there are insinuations that the meeting was deliberately conceived by Chief Akande and the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to boost the undeclared 2023 presidential ambition of the former governor of Lagos State.
It was gathered that it took those present at the meeting several hours to agree that the communiqué must be drafted in such a way it would not be misinterpreted as aiding the political ambition of a particular person. The Guardian was reliably informed that there was heated argument as to why some, who also played critical roles in the merger of APC and other credible Yoruba elders and members of the party, were exempted from the meeting. While there was an attempt to cover up the fact that Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Niyi Adebayo stood in for and delivered the apologies of Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), who were conspicuously absent from the meeting, the disposition of Adebayo himself to the meeting raised questions.
Adebayo arrived late for the meeting just as he left hours before it ended. The minister’s presence was neither noticed except for those who recognised him when he came and when leaving under his nose mask. One of the attendees also said he saw the invite to the meeting on one of the social media platforms just as he refused to grant further comment on the invitation of former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Alani Akinrinade (rtd) and Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Musiliu Smith, who were not known to be members of the party. The former Chief of Army Staff attended but no explanation was communicated to the public about the absence of the former Inspector General of Police.
To further justify the inquisitiveness of those who suspected underbelly motive in the meeting, especially considering the non-invitation of some key Yoruba leaders and stakeholders of the party, Fayemi and Akeredolu, on the following day clearly stated through their spokespersons that they were not properly invited but they pledged their support for the resolutions.
It was gathered that had the two governors, who played a vital role in the 17 southern governors’ meeting distanced themselves from the meeting as some of those who were not invited had kept quiet since last Sunday, “it may have had a serious backlash on the position arrived at by the southern governors.”
Mixed Reactions Over Resolution Two
Despite the perceived internal misgivings within the party about the exclusive tendency of the meeting, there are also discordant tunes over the directives of the Southwest APC leaders to the agitators to desist forthwith.
Urging Yoruba to disregard the directives, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, a group that has redirected its adherence to the ruling party, said the position of the Southwest APC leaders was not binding on the agitators.
President of Yoruba Ronu, Mr. Akin Malaolu said decisions calming down frayed nerves, will further offend the rights of some agitators to be heard.
According to him, “We as leaders of thought in the Southwest, find the silence on national dialogue as not only intended to erode the rights of our helpless masses to clamour for justice, equity and fairness, but to also stop completely some agitations for a brand new Constitution on how we shall live together with little or no rancour.”
The group accused the leaders of playing games with the call for restructuring, which the ruling party promised in its manifesto but had refused to implement.
Yoruba Ronu said what should have been paramount to the leaders was to have insisted that the Federal Government reasons with the various agitators who had been demanding restructuring and true federalism but have suddenly changed tune to secession.
He faulted the leaders for not engaging the agitators before issuing vague directives, saying, “The tune of the directives sounded too authoritative, not even members of their party, who believed in the principle of true federalism, would accept such language under a democratic dispensation.”
The forum, however, suggested that President Buhari should give assurances on the way forward in achieving peace and to also fast track the processes of change or in the alternative suspension of the review of 1999 Constitution and the setting up of a government of national unity, leading to postponement of 2023 election.
The forum added that any leader or leaders should not delude themselves that they call the shots. “It will be a mistake on their path by putting Nigeria in harm’s way. Peace must not elude us.”
In similar vein, the Aare Onakankanfo, Iba Gani Adams raised the alarm that some group of politicians wanted to infiltrate Yoruba nation’s struggle for emancipation.
The Yoruba warlord’s concern came on the heels of the Southwest APC leaders’ directives to the agitators. According to Adams, “Prominent politicians in the southwest have now infiltrated the struggle for the actualisation of Yoruba nation. The struggle for actualisation of O’odua Republic is a legitimate right of all Yoruba sons and daughters but top politicians in the southwest had hijacked the struggle.
Adams alleged betrayals while pointing accusing fingers at some prominent politicians, who he described as betrayers of the Yoruba cause for true liberation.
He gave insights into the purported disagreement between those agitating for the actualisation of O’odua Republic, saying some of the protagonists of the Oodua Republic were agents that are being paid to frustrate the liberation movement.
“It is unfortunate that some people are determined to weaken the spirit of the agitators. Unfolding events in the last few weeks have shown that some prominent politicians have hijacked the struggle for the actualisation of O’odua Repubic. It is an attempt to distract us from the true and original intention of the struggle. But I want to say it here that the struggle to seek a new nation is our legitimate rights that we are determined to live and die for and we wouldn’t waiver in our beliefs and determination to liberate our race.”
Prominent media practitioner, Chief Tola Adeniyi said the meeting and its proceeds must be ignored because it did not represent the interest of all members of Yoruba in their party not to talk of those that are not their members.”
He also said the Southwest APC leaders have no locus standi to speak for the intelligentsia of Yoruba on issue of secession. “Almost all those who gathered last week Sunday are in their 60 to 80 years and they are part of those who benefited from the skewed nature of this nation compared to the agitators who are mostly youths struggling for their future emancipation from the current lopsided 1999 Constitution.”
He warned that such directives may aggravate the polity and ginger the agitators more. Adeniyi therefore said it behooves the Southwest APC leaders to engage the agitators in whatever means to discuss the way forward.
But in separate conversations with The Guardian, former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, who recently defected to APC and a former Director of Central Bank and member of the ruling party, Otunba Olabiyi Durojaiye appealed to the agitators to tread softly and allow reasoning to prevail over determination for violence and disintegration of the country.
Durojaiye specifically agreed that the youths have been disappointed and that they have the right to react, “however, disunity of the county will not resolve, but further aggravate our situation.”
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