Leader of the Yoruba Liberation Command, (YOLICOM), Mr. George Akinola in this interview with BIYI ADEGOROYE speaks about the various agitations in the country and heavy lopsidedness in President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointments
What is your impression about the Nigerian project?
No. no no, Nigeria is dead. Forget about it. There is no way a nation can continue with this lopsided development and appointments for another 10 years. There is no way that people who are being cheated; people that are being short-changed can continue to acquiesce to a dead nation. It is not possible.
What do you mean by lopsided development?
Lopsided development in the sense that where the money is being generated from is not where it is being expended in; lopsided development in the sense that monkey is working and baboon is doing the chopping to use that cliché; lopsided development in the sense that Lagos for instance is generating over 55 per cent of Value Added Tax but the amount which accrues to it is only eight per cent of VAT; lopsided development because all the ports, border posts at Seem, Idi Iroko the Nigerian Customs Service and all the sources of taxes are from the South-West. Most of these incomes are second to oil. Over 75 per cent of all these incomes are generated in the South-West but the amount of expenditure accrued the South-West or money from the federation account is less than 10 per cent. That kind of development will not be allowed to continue. There is no way you can be robbing Peter to pay Paul and you expect Peter to be happy. The same thing goes for the South-South. Over 70 per cent of oil generated is from the South-South but they are being given only 13 per cent back. But Kano State generates only two per cent VAT that is taken from commodities like alcohol, beer and stuff like that that are banned in the north, but it is given almost the same and sometimes even more revenue than the states generating more than 50 per cent VAT.
All in all, over 90 per cent of revenue in the country is generated by the South-South and South-West but over 60 per cent is spent in the North. It will not be allowed to continue. Looking at the local government areas, in 1985 Kano State had about 24 local government areas then and Lagos had about 18 or 20 LGAs but 20 years after Kano has been divided into three: Kano, Kastina and Jigawa with each of them having about 30 LGAs. Kano alone has 44 local governments. In all close to 100 local governments have been created out of the old Kano State, yet Lagos State still has 20 LGAs until Bola Tinubu came and fought for more LGAs which were refused by the Federal Government. So we are saying that this kind of lopsidedness cannot continue.
Number three is the social issue. Boko Haram was all over the place killing people and also the Fulani herdsmen are all over the place killing people in the South-West, South-East and the Middle Belt. We started shouting that but how many of them have been arrested and prosecuted? When there was mayhem in Ife, when Hausa Fulani attacked Yoruba people in Yoruba land, at the Source, only Yoruba people were arrested in a case of affray where do you arrest only a group in affray? In fact there are so many cases of injustices and lopsidedness that can be cited.
And when you come to equity, you come with clean hands. You cannot be preaching to us like President Muhammadu Buhari in his Sallah message said that we should all work together in unity without giving any example that encourages unity. His example encourages nepotism; all the people he appointed to the civil service are in favour of the north, police; all the heads of the security agencies, except the Navy are from the north. Look at the heads of the Police, Immigration and the Customs are all from the north. Also, look at the recent appointments in the NNPC and you will agree he does not intend to change anything.
What is your impression about the recent setting up of Biafra Security Service?
That is their business. I am not an Igbo man.
But does that not reflect the agitations in the country?
Of course, you can interpret that way now.
What exactly are you agitating for?
The main idea is for everyone to go to his tent. The major hindrance to Yoruba development is Nigeria. We have been losing because of our relationship with Nigeria. Since 1960, we have being losing to Nigeria and I can give a list of how we have lost to Nigeria. We have not gained anything from Nigeria; we have lost on education, landed properties, border areas. Don’t forget that before the amalgamation in 1914, Yorubas were never defeated. But when the Fulani people came, we lost Ilorin, later we lost Ketu, lost |Popo, Sabe. Now, loot at it we have Ahmadu Bello Way in Lagos, just by the ocean, just to fulfill their prophecy that they will deep the Koran into the sea, but we are going to take it and throw it back at them. But that is for tomorrow.
How popular is your organisation and does it enjoy the support of the Yoruba leaders?
They cannot support it, those supporting are doing so silently. These people cannot complain because they are eating from honey pot and will not tell you the pot is black. They are eating from the inequity, the imbalance, even though their people are short-changed they won’t complain, as par popularity among the masses I can tell you we are extremely popular. Our people need a voice, a credible one. The Igbo have been marginalized for over 40 years now and there was not credible voice until Kanu came articulated their concerns and everybody started listening to him.
Why are you against the restructuring done by the leaders?
The restructuring is too late. Don’t forget that we have been shouting for resource control, restructuring and Sovereign National Conference for many years now. It is too late. So let us forget, everybody should go to their tents.
How many of the South-West states are covered by the agitation and what about the Middle West?
Let’s forget about the geo-political names they call Nigeria. We are talking about Yoruba land and anywhere that is Yoruba land is covered by the agitation. It is clearly written in our declaration.
From your assessment you seem not to agree that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable?
Of course, it’s negotiable. Which marriage is not negotiable? Even God himself negotiated the new covenant with his people. What we have is an artificial creation of Lord Lugard, so why is it not negotiable? Yoruba was never conquered by the British, but what we had with them was trade treaties, hence you cannot ask me not to negotiate my way out. And if you look at it any time the Yorubas come together on an issue the nation quakes. Look at what happened in 1963 and 1993. Each time we come together the country will not move forward and the earlier they realize that the better. Each time Yoruba have a consensus on an issue the country will not move.
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