Prof. Banji Akintoye, President of Yoruba World Congress, has revealed that nothing would stop his group from declaring Oduduwa Republic on 1 October, Nigeria’s independence day.
He told doubters in an interview with The Sun that they should wait until 1 October to know whether it is real or not. He added: “I want to declare here that nobody should harbour any doubt about the determination of Yoruba for self-determination. There is no going back, and come October 1st, we are going to make a formal declaration about it, and nobody including federal government can stop us. The whole world is already aware of our mission, and there is nothing federal government can do about it because what we are doing is not in any way illegal. It is within our legitimate right to determine whether we want to stay or not in the union called Nigeria. There is no way we can be held against our will if our people have already made up their mind to leave Nigeria. Nigeria is living on borrowed time, and it is just a matter of time before we all go our separate ways. There is no going back, Oduduwa Republic has come to stay. It has become a reality.”
He argued further: “There is so much injustice in Nigeria, and it is only here you have this kind of injustice, and oppression. There has been so much Fulani domination, and oppression of other groups in the country, and we can’t continue this way and this is why we feel that the best option for Yoruba is to exercise their right to self-determination. A country where one group is always aspiring to conquer other sections can no longer be called a country. The situation in the country today is so bad that it has gone beyond restructuring, which some people are even calling for.”
As 1 October inches closer, critics have offered words of caution. One of the is Mr Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights campaigner.
In his words: “Which Oduduwa Republic? Are these ethnic champions not carrying this funny joke too far? Where did the Yoruba people conduct a referendum to opt out of Nigeria?
Mid West was carved out of Western Region. Western State was split into Oyo, Ogun, Osun, and Ekiti States because of alleged domination of certain Yoruba leaders.
Have the Ekiti people mandated Profesor Banji Akintoye to send them to Ibadan?
Members of the ruling class in the South West zone are either campaigning for restructuring or bulkanisation of the country. It is a campaign for power devolution without responsibility. It is a dubious struggle that does not address the security and welfare of the Yoruba people. The beneficiaries of free education policy are today the promoters of commercialisation of education. So, they have turned the children of the poor to area boys and thugs while their children are going to private schools at home and abroad.
The ranches built in Oke Ako (Ekiti State) and Akunu (Ondo State) in the 1950s by the Western region under the premiership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo have collapsed. Hence, the regular clashes between herders and farmers.
Lagos State which is part of the South West Zone is the 6th largest economy in the whole of Africa. The South West Zone is richest in the country. But the level of development is nothing to write home about because the federal and state governments have adopted the ideology of underdevelopment sponsored by the IMF and World Bank.”
Temitope Ajayi, a public affairs analyst argued also: “All these nonsense talk is just for private privileges and self preservation by these ethnic champions as if Oduduwa Republic will be heaven where we will all live happily ever after.
The South West like Mr. Falana posited is the richest region in Nigeria and the biggest beneficiary of Nigeria’s diversity. All the banks have their corporate headquarters here. The International Oil Companies have their headquarters here. 70% of the entire financial transactions in Nigeria every day is done in Lagos. The biggest single private sector investment in Nigeria which is $17b Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical is in SW. All the big industries mostly owned by non Yoruba people are here. BUA industries owned by a Kano man are here. We really need to think well and know what we are asking for before we allow some rabble rousers to cause problem for us and the country.”
Wale Olayemi, a journalist reacted that in view of the lack of co-ordination, inability to reach a consensus on the way to develop our geo-political zone, non-commitment of political actors to an agenda for development that would be driven by ideas and the disdain of the political leadership for men of ideas explain why the zone is moving backwards.
He continued: “The North that we deride as being backward has an intellectual powerhouse in its Arewa House that is fully backed by the 19 Northern states. The idea of having a Yoruba Think Thank in the DAWN Commission (Development Agenda for Western Nigeria)has not enjoy the necessary support to function optimally in such capacity from the political leadership, the business elites and corporate leaders. The fantastic roadmap for development documented by DAWN COMMISSION is gathering dust in various shelves in the Government Houses and homes of influential elites in the region. In view of these challenges, our failure to look back and examine how Chief Obafemi Awolowo came up with a Marshal Plan sort of, with the collaboration of the Intelligentsia wing of the Yoruba in the First republic to put up a template that became the operational manual that birthed the superlative performance in government recorded by Chief Awolowo and his colleagues that is still unsurpassed till date. The Yoruba has all that it takes to stand alone and be a rich and prosperous country but the current attempt at Oduduwa republic does not fit into an agenda for greatness driven by ideas and not brawn. I don’t see the Yoruba nation as being ready now to take its destiny in her own hands.”
Timi Orokoya Telemi, an artiste was a bit apprehensive about the matter: “I just pray and hope Biafra will not repeat itself with this approach. I believe there is a due process the Yorubas have to follow in achieving this. Except if some of these images are artistic impressions of someone or a group.
People are only conscious of positions not operations. The reason we find some leaders after getting to power they become confused because they had no idea of how to operate and get results. Except if we are decieving ourselves, Oduduwa nation is good and necessary in view of the present situations but we are not riped for it. We want to carve out a nation out of a system without a sustainable structure, that is still struggling with restructuring. We really need to get our bearings right, because we too are guilty of some of the things we accused the present government of. Let be careful not to even attempt any protect whether peaceful or otherwise, it may be brutal. Let me close with this write up from a deep Nigerian, an Engineer who doubles as a Lawyer.
*However, we need to be Very Careful in Not crossing the boundary of Protests into Treasonable areas. The line between these two, are very thin. Organizers of these our Yoruba protests, need to be fully aware, that the military and police are populated and controlled by the acolytes of Nigeria’s feudal lords . These feudal lords are strategic, deadly and only waiting for us to cross that boundary between protests and treason. Are we very prepared and coordinated to fight? With what? By who? Again, be aware that our Yoruba political leaders, sitting governors and legislators are just observing and Not tactically supporting this agitative protests. They are ather quiet and Not participating in our call for liberation. A word is enough, for the wise.”
Prodessor Hope Eghagha of the University of Lagos did not want critics to wave the proponents off with sniffing disdain. In his words: “It has become part of the discourse in our national politics because of perceived injustice and the aggrandizement dominating the so-called federation. It’s a bargaining chip, isn’t it? Going for broke could call attention to a situation. You call them jokers? Well their perception or viewpoint is shaped by their experiences, with how they encountered Nigeria and the face Nigeria has shown them. If IPOB for Biafra why not Oduduwa?”
Then, Mr. Ifedayo Babalola, writer and an Ibadan based public affairs analyst, supported Eghagha’s position:
“May your likes increase, Prof!
I have been gobsmacked all day at the direction of this discussion. It is really a saddening revelation that, people will willy-nilly declare an idea as ‘impossible’. If those who say so are not saying that it is unnecessary or uncalled for, then it is impossible only because those who believe in it are too scared to say so, or have been conditioned to accept the status quo with equanimity. But even if we do not think the idea is right, we owe civilisation and democracy the duty to defend the rights of the activists to express themselves in whatever peaceful manner.
Someone argued that it is dangerous and could be deadly. But that, still, is not a declaration that it is unnecessary. As people with intellectual bent, I suppose where the discussion should start from is the question of necessity or otherwise. Do they have a point?”
Babalola continued: “Another point is, calling the leadership of such movements ethnic jingoists may be an attempt to be derogatory. However, I don’t think they need to be ashamed on such count. It is only in Nigeria that ethnicity is degraded. Winston Churchill and many of Europe’s greats were ethnic jingoists.
Next to family, the ethnic group is the next natural affiliation ordained by God. After many wars between themselves, the Europeans ended up partitioning their continent based on tribes. France for the French, Portugal for The Portuguese etc.
Europe is so partitioned on tribal basis that there are countries with populations of a million and less. Even The UK that cooked up the Nigerian experiment has ended up granting her constituent parts their separate parliaments and agitators have not rested.
A spokesman for The Nigerian president said recently on Channels that Nigerians have been trying unsuccessfully to unite the country for over a hundred years. That should not be a surprise. It is unnatural, a conglomeration of peoples with diverse world views. There has always been and there will continue to be clashes of cultures. It is already gone to dangerous levels, and those who refuse to say so do so for personal reasons.
Finally, Barrister Falana made my day when he asked if The Ekiti people gave Professor Akintoye the mandate to take them out of the Nigeria. Good question. I believe the best gift the Nigerian government can give to the old man and his followers today is agree to a plebiscite. Southeastern determination groups have been asking for this for years, but unfortunately, no heavyweight voices have told the government that it their right. That is a minus for the human rights community in a country where the most harmless of protests are declared illegal and treasonable.”