There has been a strong clamor by a group of Yoruba intelligentsia, led by Professor Banji Akintoye, through the Yoruba World Congress, demanding for Oduduwa republic. The body recently organised a successful peaceful protests on October 1, Nigeria’s independence day to create awareness. However another Yoruba splinter group, Yoruba Council of Elders do not agree with the demand for Oduduwa republic.
The Secretary-general of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Kunle Olajide, said it is unrealistic for the Oduduwa Republic to be achieved without violence. The YCE scribe said there had never been a consensus or meeting of the Yoruba nation and elders to discuss the creation of a country made up of only the Yoruba.
The medical doctor wondered what parts of present-day Nigeria would form the proposed country.
According to him, Lagos has said it is not part of Oduduwa nation, and the head monarch of Ijebu land in Ogun State said his people migrated from North Africa.
“I visited the war front almost immediately after the truce and what I saw there, I would not wish it for my enemies. As far as the Yoruba nation is concerned, I will not lead my people to commit mass suicide,” he said.
“The idea that they can have a peaceful exit is more theoretical than real. There is nothing like the 107 groups,” he said, referring to claims by Akintoye that the call for self-determination for the Yoruba nation had been signed.
“There is nowhere we have sat down and had a consensus to say we want the Yoruba nation. For us, we believe that if we can have a true Federal Republic of Nigeria, in 50 years, Nigeria will be leading Africa in all parameters of human existence. In 75 years, we will be in the league of first-world countries.”
He said although the Yoruba were not happy with the imposition of the Fulani political elite, who are in the minority, breaking up the country is not the preferred outcome.
“Yoruba people are justifiably angry about the system we are running that has completely diminished the upward development of the Yoruba people and has rendered most of the youths who constitute the majority of our population jobless. Nigeria appears to have reached the beginning of the end to this unitary, centralised pseudo-federalism we are operating,” he continued.
Olajide expressed optimism that other regions of the country will soon join the call for true federalism.
He said, “There is no part of Nigeria today that is happy with the Nigeria we have. Since the North Central pulled out of the Arewa Forum, you don’t have any North like we used to have before and if anyone believes there is still a Northern region, that is the most unsafe part of the country today.
“They have all the negative indices of human development in Nigeria. A time is coming, and it is coming too soon that they will be championing for restructuring.”
He said they had been mobilising to break what he described as a ‘tiny political Fulani elite’.
“We have started mobilising. We already have a relationship with the cultural groups in the South and the Middle Belt. We are going to reach out to the North-Central forum so that we can reduce this tiny Fulani elite who have gained power from the constitution and the false sense of population advantage the British gave them,” he noted.
However, a political commentator, David Adenekan picked holes in Olajide’s submission. His position is well articulated below:
Let me start my analysis by saying the argument that Yoruba is an embodiment of people not from the same progenitor is not tenable, and with due respect to Dr. Olajide, the spokesperson for Yoruba Elder Council, Lagos belongs to the Aworis, who are descendant of Oduduwa from Ile Ife. They are called “Idejo” (The White Cap Chiefs). The history of Lagos state predated the creation of a traditional king by Oba of Benin.
The Oba of Benin during the slave trade era needed an easy route and network for the flow of trade transactions between him and the Portuguese, the best way to achieve this goal was to capture the coastal area. Lagos is strategically located by the Atlantic Ocean and this necessitated the reason why the Oba of Benin with his strong army invaded and subdued the leaders of the Aworis that lived by the coastal area and installed his son, King Ado as the first king of Lagos in order to use him as a protege to see to the management of trade at the coastal area between the Oba of Benin and the Portuguese.
The king’s palace was originally built by the harbor point called Iddo before it was later moved to Iga Idugaran long after the abolishment of slave trade. Iddo was where all the ships were loading and landing and the transaction of trade between the representatives of Oba of Benin and the Portuguese were being carried out. The Oba of Benin only controlled the coastal area.
Without mincing words, the land belongs to the Idejos who are the Aworis. They are Yoruba by tribe. For further information and clarification, read the “Ownership of Lagos: Between distortion and obvious facts / Guardians Nigeria News – Nigeria and world News Opinion, by Professor Rashid Ojikutu.
Also, the claims by Awujale of Ijebu land, Oba Sikiru Adetona that the Ijebus are from North Africa cannot be true because the existence of Yoruba people in Ijebu land predated the creation of traditional kings in Ijebu land. Similarly, Oduduwa met Yoruba speaking people in Ile Ife when he arrived.
Prejudice apart, and as a student of history, I found the above piece credited to Dr. Olajide as the spokesperson for Yoruba council of Elders erroneous and a distortion of historical facts.
Moreover, what are the homogeneous factors that define a nation? Yoruba as a nation fit into the world index of characteristics of a nation because of the presence of some of the strong homogeneous factors like language, ancestral ties, custom and tradition that defines a nation.These homogeneous factors are the biblical cord that unite Yoruba people as a nation.
Suffice to say that we found at least two out of these homogeneous factors in many countries like Eritrea, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, East Timor, Southern Sudan, Republic of Ireland, Czeck Republic and Slovakia. These are some of the countries that fought to break away from the strangulation and domination of other major tribes, and eventually declared their countries’ sovereignty. It should be noted that some of these countries achieved their self determinations with years of armed struggle that claimed many lives.
Though it may be true that true federalism and resource control may mitigate against the agitation for self determination by four out of the six geo political zones namely Ndigbo, Oodua, Niger delta and middle belt in the country, the fundamental question is, how do we reverse a country to a federalist state that had been functioning for more than a century under a deceptive and fabricated “mere geographical expression” as postulated by Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo?
Intrinsically, Nigeria is truly “a mere geographical expression” and do we need to debate this obvious fact? Will the Northern Oligarchy ever let go the subjugation of the rest of the country, bearing in mind they have been holding on to political power as a comparative advantage over others?
However, I am not advocating for violence to achieve our demand for self determination but at the same time all options including armed struggle must be on the table.
“Mi o le ku kan ki je oye ile baba e”. meaning: Are we going to remain slaves in our fatherland because we do not want to die?
I strongly submit that Oduduwa Republic is our best option in this contraption called Nigeria and it is doable.
I rest my case.
David Adenekan writes from Chicago, Illinois.