By Iyanu Oluwajomiloju/ Ibadan
Ibadan, the military and political capital of the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria came under a galaxy of Oduduwa sons and daughter from all walks and leanings of life on Thursday 21st January, 2021 to brainstorm on progress and development of the region.
Before now, Yorubas have been meeting and charting a way out their challenges even before the flag independence that gave birth to the independence and republican constitution in 1960 and 1963 respectively.
When the drum of the civil war was beating in 1967, the Youbas gathered in Mapo, Ibadan under the leadership of the Late Obafemi Awolowo, who had just been released from prison follolwing his treason trial, to take a stand on the impending conflict and the role of the Yorubas. At the height of the June 12 crisis, specifically on the 11th May 1994, prominent Yoruba Obas and statesmen gathered again to deliberate on what they called the “Yoruba Agenda”.
And last Thursday, a Pan Yoruba Summit conveyed under the aegis of Yoruba Patriots Movement was held at the Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, The summit deliberated on prevailing and future socio-political challenges as well as prospects of Yoruba nation with emphasis on issues that bother on the welfare, security and mutual coexistence of Yoruba people within a peaceful, stable and united Nigeria.
The meeting was attended by traditional leaders, political functionaries and actors, eminent personalities as well as cross section of stakeholders from the Southwest States (i.e.) Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo as well as representatives of Yoruba people in Kogi, Kwara, Edo and Delta States.
According to the organizer, the Summit with the theme: “Yoruba Nation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” became 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.
In a keynote address, Professor Adegbenga Onabamiro of Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode Ogun State, alluded to the patriotic zeal of revered sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo which register Yoruba nation into global reckoning within a very short space of time.
The Professor reiterated the imperative of unity as a vehicle for mobilizing the full potentials of the people. The keynote address reiterated the importance of unity amongst critical stakeholders in moving Yoruba society forward. He 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.
He explained that societal management is the responsibility of every citizen, to navigate the nation out of the nightmare of many troubles that we are going through today.
According to him, “there are values which were cherished and upheld in the past that made us giants and captains in different areas of politics, government, academics, industry, security etc but were either lost or jettisoned along the line, only to find ourselves in the state we are today, the selfish and uncaring interpersonal values have grossly retarded our once blooming and comfortable nation.”
Other speakers also emphasized the need for unity in the desire to move Yoruba nation forward. Participants at the Summit expressed the hope that the Yoruba will mobilize and unite to push the ideal
At the end of the deliberation, in a communique signed by Barrister Oladosu Oladipo, Honourable Babatunde Balogun and twelve others, the Summit 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 Nigerian project from precipice.
Participants also decried the prevailing worrisome status of 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.
They equally observed that gross inadequacy of security personnel and opposition to restructure the security system to allow the operation of state police are the major incentive for the grinding insecurity in the country.
The Summit condemned forcible encroachment of community lands and forests reserves as well as destruction of livelihoods of indigenous people of the Southwest by any individuals or groups in the guise of exercising freedom of Nigerian citizenship.
It also decried 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 and cautioned against the repeat of such incident that led to monumental devastation in Lagos State and other States of the Southwest, the gathering observed the need for political leadership across the divides to raise the bar of governance by committing themselves to probity, transparency and democratic accountability.
In the quest to pursue the cause of fairness, equity, security and restoration of faith in the Nigerian project, the Summit therefore resolve ahead of 2023, to rally around genuine political aspirations of individuals from the Southwest with demonstrated pedigree of commitment to the ideals of quality leadership and welfarist program of the leading light of Yoruba political leadership
It also pledged 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.
On security, participants resolved to support the Governors of the Southwest in the desire to improve the security of the region as a follow-up to the establishment of AMOTEKUN security corps. It also demanded for the prioritization of funding for AMOTEKUN as well as proper monitoring of the activities of the corps across the Southwest to ensure the protection of the neighborhoods, hinterlands, farms and forests.
While expressing support for Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, (SAN)” in his bold; patriotic efforts to curb kidnapping and all forms of insecurity in Ondo State,” the Summit called on other governors to take decisive steps to reassure the people of safety in their homelands and reiterated the position of Ondo State Government that forests across the Southwest should not be turned into grazing zones.
On good governance, the group resolved to work with Governors of the Southwest States to strengthen the Development Network of Western Nigeria (DAWN) with the view to enhancing quality governance in the region
It also 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.
In conclusion, the participants “expressed the hope that Yoruba political leadership across board will remain united and committed around issues of mutual benefits with the view to advancing the collective interests of the Yoruba within a united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.”