Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has berated Prof. Banji Akintoye over the claim that he cannot speak for the people of the state on the issue of agitation for the secession of the Yoruba nation from the country. Speaking yesterday, Akeredolu said, as governor, he has the mandate of the people to speak on behalf of Ondo State people, particularly on issues that will directly affect them. Prof. Akintoye, who is the leader of the Ilana Omo Oodua Group, which has been agitating for the secession of the Yoruba nation, had, during the week, stated that Akeredolu cannot decide the fate of the people of Ondo State over the secession agenda.
The reaction of the Professor of History was on the stance of the governor that secessionists should stay clear of the state and that the people of Ondo State had resolved to remain in Nigeria. Akeredolu, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties and Strategy, Doyin Odebowale, described Akintoye as an impostor and selfappointed freedom fighter who, alongside “a group of stragglers, an admixture of the highly educated, not-so educated, outright louts and upgraded street urchins, declared ‘Sovereignty’ of Yoruba nation from Nigeria on behalf of themselves and members of the rapacious and indecorous band.”
The statement partly read: “He (Prof. Banji Akintoye) seems to have great difficulty in viewing everything beyond ethnicity. While it is not our place to begrudge anyone for aspiring to lead the Yoruba people, arguably one of the most sophisticated on the surface of the planet earth, it is curious to imagine that a group led by such a person will seek to lead an “agitation (which) shall be bloodless, Intellectually Rooted, Legally Grounded”(sic). “It becomes incumbent on these self-appointed “freedom fighters” to explain the meanings of these terms freely thrown at the gullible and ignorant.
They claim that an agitation, which hopes to subvert the existing political order, is not ‘secession’. They aspire to have a new country from the current one. They have been unable to let us know how they arrived at such a decision with the potential of assured grave socioeconomic cum political implications to the rest of us, without our input.
“It smacks of ignorance, of the crudest hue, to tell the world that a Professor of History concluded that an elected governor of a state could not speak on behalf of those who have chosen him, overwhelmingly, to lead in the last two major elections in his state. If the governor cannot speak for his people, is it a pack of unelected jokers who will declare ‘Sovereignty’ on their behalf? Akeredolu added that: “At what point did we decide as Yoruba people to declare a new republic? Where was the referendum held? Who conducted it? Who chose the date for the declaration of ‘Autonomy for the Yoruba Nation’?
If an elected governor represents himself, on whose behalf are these people agitating? Who appointed Prof Akintoye as the leader of the Yoruba? How many people participated in the sham? “It is very saddening to note that some of those who pretend to be the custodians of the pristine philosophy of value propounded by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo (SAN), fail to see the connection between the Livestock Transformation Programme and the attempts by the current administration in Ondo State to resuscitate the Akunnu and Auga Ranches.
Those who lack the capacity to look beyond the parochial prism of ethnicity and prebendalism cannot appreciate the genuine efforts of the Akeredolu Administration to make the people of the state the centre of all activities. The governor’s speech was clear; no part of Ondo State will be ceded to any foreigner under whatever guise. Only a mischievous person will twist the fact. “Ondo State has been a major participant in the economy of the country. The people of the state will avail themselves of any benefits accruable therefrom.
Pastoralism is not the exclusive preserve of an ethnic group. Anyone interested in the business will be encouraged by the government. Any non-indigene who wishes to bring in cattle will be directed to the ranches. The cattle will feed in these facilities for a fee.
The Ondo State Government will NOT permit any new settlement in any of these ranches and/or forests. No part of the land will be ceded to any group of private businessmen for habitation. This position is clear enough. Only the mischievous will attempt twisting the fact. “Let it be reiterated again.
There will be no agitation for secession in any part of Ondo State. Prof Akintoye should submit himself to the people if he is so desirous of representing them. It is presumptuous, denigrating and condescendingly spiteful for a group of hustlers, living largely in anonymity but struggling for relevance, to keep proclaiming and legislating on issues which affect the destiny of a whole people, without the faintest suggestion of paying even scant regard to their feelings or extending due courtesy to the real representatives of the people whose opinions they discount as unimportant.
“The people are discerning. They know the impostors. They have not forgotten the activities of the suborned agitators, the presumed penitent activists. The Ondo people, and indeed Yoruba, are the easiest to lead, but the most difficult to deceive. With them, sophistry and demagoguery have their limits.”