Despite their political affiliations and interests, eminent Yoruba stakeholders converged on Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, last week, to deliberate on how to coalesce and speak with one voice for the collective interest of the ethnic group in a peaceful Nigeria. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
Ibadan, the Oyo State capital is known for many things. But one of the things that distinguish the ancient city is its clout as the political headquarters of the South- West zone.
The city is considered more than any location in the zone as strategic and pivotal to political considerations in the region.
Perhaps, equipped with this knowledge about the historical importance of Ibadan to the past, present and future of the South-West, the Yoruba Patriots Movement decided to toe the line of significance which the city offers by holding its Pan- Yoruba Summit for all the six states in the zone and beyond last Thursday.
Held at the prestigious International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, the Summit, which brought together critical stakeholders in the Yoruba race, has its theme as “Yoruba Nation: Yesterday, today and tomorrow.”
One of the interesting spectacles of the summit was its non-partisan scenery as citizens of Yoruba defied their political and cultural signature to accentuate a common voice for a race that is, perhaps, more divided than ever before.
Attended by traditional leaders, political functionaries and actors, eminent personalities as well as cross section of stakeholders from the South-West States of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo as well as representatives of Yoruba people in Kogi, Kwara, Edo and Delta states, the forum, which showcased the beauty of diversity in ideas and interests, ensured that the Yoruba race is able to aggregate a common voice ahead of personal interest.
For the organisers, the summit and its theme are imperative against the backdrop of prevailing situations in the country and the need to foster mutual understanding amongst critical stakeholders for a united voice that speaks genuinely to the collective interest and aspirations of Yoruba people in a peaceful, stable and united Nigeria.
Of course, Yoruba gives priority and reference to its traditional institutions and the summit took this into consideration.
During the event, goodwill messages were received from monarchs in Yorubaland, who are custodians of Yoruba traditions and culture. Similarly, an array of the hierarchies of socio-political groups, leaders from across political divides, political actors were also at the summit.
Representatives of women and youth groups as well as the academic and professionals, including Yoruba people in the Diaspora were also in attendance.
Attendance at the Summit was also enhanced by virtual participation and social media streaming through which wide-spectrum of stakeholders within and outside the country contributed and enriched deliberations.
In a keynote address, Prof. Adegbenga Onabamiro of Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, alluded to the patriotic zeal of revered sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, which registered the Yoruba nation into global reckoning within a very short space of time.
The presentation reiterated the imperative of unity as a vehicle for mobilizing the full potentials of the people. It also reiterated the importance of unity amongst critical stakeholders in moving Yoruba society forward.
Onabamiro stressed the importance of value orientation and therefore urged the Yoruba nation to reignite the spirit of value-based politics, unity and love through which the populace could be mobilized into great force of followership to deepen democracy and demand justice.
Other speakers also emphasized the need for unity in the desire to move Yoruba nation forward, just as they expressed hope that the Yoruba nation will mobilize and unite to push the ideal
Also discussed at the roundtable was the enormous challenges confronting the Nigerian state; particularly the worsening insecurity situation, growing frustration foisted by obvious inadequacies of the current federal structure and glaring unsuitability of the system to deliver on the aspiration of Yoruba people
The summit also deliberated on the gravity of these challenges; agonizing clamour for solutions and available options towards reinventing and galvanizing the collective passion that will bring about the realization of the cherished vision of progressive ideals and shared-prosperity for which Yoruba leadership and followership are historically reputed as dependable champions and partners in Nige- ria and globally.
The summit also exhaustively considered wide ranging concerns of the generality of Yoruba people, which continue to manifest as miseries of dwindling livelihoods and abysmal living conditions of over 90 per cent of the population as well as uncertainties of insecurity which imperil lives and properties on a daily basis.
Sequel to the deliberation, notable observation emanated from the summit.
The forum observed that in spite of threats and insidious signals constituted by obvious imbalances in the current federal system, there has been conscious attempts at denying the reality, and by so doing, frustrate demands for restructuring as panacea for rescuing the Nigerian project from precipice.
The gathering also decried the prevailing worrisome status of the Nigerian state and insidious politics of denials amidst heightened unwarranted attacks by armed bandits and kidnappers now on the prowl on daily basis across the country.
It also highlighted the gross inadequacy of security personnel and opposition to restructure the security system to allow the operation of state police.
The summit also observed the ugly trend of kidnapping and unprovoked attacks on indigenous people of the South- West by armed men who harass, maim and kill farmers and landowners across communities.
In the same vein, it condemned forcible encroachment of community lands and forests reserves as well as destruction of livelihoods of indigenous people of the South-West by some individuals and groups under the guise of exercising freedom of Nigerian citizenship.
A searchlight was also beamed on rancorous politicking amongst actors, who are expected to be working in harmony to demand responsible leadership and good governance in meeting the aspiration of the people; particularly considering the mounting challenges in the country.
While regretting the violence and destruction that attended the #EndSARS protests, the summit cautioned against a repeat of such incident that led to monumental devastation in Lagos State and other states of the South-West.
An observation was also made on the need for political leadership across the divides to raise the bar of governance by committing themselves to probity, transparency and democratic accountability.
Sequel to the observations, the summit in a communiqué signed by Barr. Oladosu Oladipo, Hon. Babatunde Balogun, Engr. Adekunle Olayinka and Senator Rilwan Soji Akanbi, Chief Bayo Oyero, Chief (Mrs.) Labake Lawal, Hon. Rotimi Paseda, Hon Taiwo Akeju, among others, said its resolutions are in the quest to pursue the cause of fairness, equity, security and restoration of faith in the Nigerian project.
The communiqué read in part: “Ahead of 2023 general election, summit resolved to rally around genuine political aspirations of individuals from the South-West with demonstrated pedigree of commitment to the ideals of quality leadership and welfarist programme of the leading light of Yoruba political leadership.
“Summit therefore resolved to work in collaboration with stakeholders across political camps for the realization of objective of supporting ambition of politicians from the Southwest to offer genuine leadership to Nigerians at the federal level. “Summit resolved to undertake continuous engagement with political leadership in the South-West towards the security and welfare of the people.
Consequently, summit resolved to support the presidential ambition of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. “Summit resolved to support the governors of the South-West in the desire to improve the security of the region as a follow-up to the establishment of Amotekun security corps.
“Summit resolved to demand for the prioritization of funding for Amotekun as well as proper monitoring of the activities of the corps across the South-West to ensure the protection of the neighborhoods, hinterlands, farms and forests.
“Summit expressed support for Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) in his bold; patriotic efforts to curb kidnapping and all forms of insecurity in Ondo State. Summit therefore called on other governors to take decisive steps to reassure the people of safety in their homelands.
“Summit reiterated the position of Ondo State government that forests across the South- West should not be turned into grazing zones. Summit encourage of groups or individuals interested in cattle business to undergo legitimate processes of acquiring lands for ranching to be operated under relevant laws and regulations as may be deemed necessary by the respective state.
“Summit resolved to work with governors of the South-West states to strengthen the Development Network of Western Nigeria (DAWN) with the view to enhancing
“Summit demanded for new constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to reflect the demands for a restructured federalism which guarantees accountable governance, security and welfare of the generality of the people as well as to enhance accelerated development across Nigeria.
“Summit demanded prioritization of skill acquisition, capacity development and entrepreneurship support for youths and women in the South-West to address the growing rate of joblessness and poverty.”
Clearly, with the outcome of the summit, it is expected that Yoruba political leadership across board will remain united and committed around issues of mutual benefits to the race. How this common good will be a reality is in the belly of time, especially, ahead of the 2023 general election.