By Femi Olufunmilade
Chief Obaro, let me reply because your inquiry sounds genuine, but make no apologies for President Buhari, who, I can say authoritatively and in retrospect with the benefit of what I now know of him, is unfit to lead a multiethnic, multinational, and multi-religious country like Nigeria.
I stand before God before whom I shall one day stand and give account of my earthly deeds that what I’m going to tell you now are borne of verifiable facts and, largely, products of my personal observations over time. I share this without bitterness or malice.
President Buhari is an ethnic bigot of the worst kind but he went about it deceptively while seeking power.
I’ve said this several times. It was a first hint that warned me of the bigot in the man. It’s worth recalling.
Late 2014, we of the CPC were asked to submit our list for inclusion in the Interim National Exco of the newly-formed APC. Every other merging party – ACN, ANPP, and APGA – tried to exhibit some national spread in their submissions.
But the CPC list Buhari had the prerogative of compiling was the only one that was ultra-skewed. Out of nine slots, Buhari gave eight to the north! Only one – post of National Women Leader – he conceded to the entire South! He gave that to his bosom friend, Sharon Ikeazor, presently a Minister.
I was the only person, to the best of my knowledge, who politely protested to him. I told him, rather to his shock and embarrassment, it was wrong. He replied, “I will look into it , Dr.” Nothing changed.
I shrugged it off as, perhaps, a mere error of judgement in the heat and pressure of compilation.
Then he became president and began skewed appointments. Then I had access to him. I thought of how to deliver my message pungently and in a way that would rattle him and drum it home.
I approached him and said the trend wasn’t well received by the public and he should be careful to give every section of the country a sense of belonging.
To rub my point in, I said, “Mr. President, you must be a lot more careful in your appointments to vital security and defence positions. It’s safer to diffuse the ethno-religious backgrounds of the chiefs. Recall that the coup that toppled your administration in 1985 August was hatched by northerners.”
That jolted him and he quietly changed the head of the MOPOL Unit at Aso Rock from Arewa to an Ijebu man called Ogunyannwo. Thought he should be of the rank of ACP.
Then, when critical appointments were being made, after five months delay, I noticed that PDP members were gaining the upper hands. Those who had formed a tight ring around the president were in business!
That upset some of us, naturally, including his wife who openly protested thus: “My husband doesn’t know more than five percent of his appointees. They are mainly those who know nothing about the vision, mission, and policies of our party”!
I wrote a series of memoranda to the president, as I was trouble-hearted, and began to receive loud grumbles from those I had mobilised to support him across the Southwest on my old political platforms and among the comrades in defunct CPC.
Rather than his errors of exclusion abating, it grew worse. I then granted a newspaper interview, hoping he would read it because he reads newspapers avidly, including the cartoons.
I then sought audience with the VP. It turned out that he was not as influential as I had imagined. I would go there and he would get diplomatic about issues, leaving me to read between the lines. He nonetheless tries to keep a good relationship with me and my followers across the states by ensuring we receive xmas/new year hampers.
During Covid-19 he called, personally, and asked me to send a list for his own private largesse. I can only sympathise with the man. He’s handicapped! When I decided to vie against the president in 2019, he invited me to Aguda House twice and tried to convince me the second term would be redeeming. He asked me to join him in reviewing the draft Next Level document. I did. I campaigned for their ticket, once again. I helped him design propaganda posters, which production he facilitated for pasting across the Southwest.
After the election, nothing changed. Then the Fulani herdsmen killings began to spread southward on a spiral!
People were being slaughtered like animals. They were being gunned down on their farms as though we were in a state of war. Most alarming was the fact that even when the Fulani killers got apprehended they were released in no time with their guns!
I lost a colleague, Kelvin Izevbekhai, to their bullets on the Benin-Ore highway. Another colleague, Solola, was abducted and released only after ransom had been paid. There were other cases.
Things got so bad that major highways became the killer Fulani operational theatres, simultaneously as farms across Yorubaland were invaded. Women were raped, farms destroyed, ransom extorted. No place was safe.
We began to cry out. But rabid sychopants who never spent a penny of their money or risked their lives campaigning across cities and hamlets in the treacherous terrain of Nigerian politics were busy harassing us.
They said we were exaggerating things. We were haters. It’s because Buhari didn’t give us appointments. Ad infinitum. Because we all realised that the security agencies routinely released the criminals with their guns, we began to think of self-defence. We formed Amotekun. For the first time in living memory, Yoruba people united across political divides. Obas, the clergy, students, market women, agberos, governors, lawmakers all agreed it was the way to go. Everybody donned the Amotekun regalia.
But a bigoted Buhari with a pernicious agenda of Fulani irredentism refused us gun licence for Amotekun till date. Meanwhile, the so-called Civilian JTF in Borno state carry sophisticated weapons! Every step of the way, he opposed Amotekun with his Attorney General telling us it was illegal.
It was this background that created the Igboho of this world entering into the fray when his uncle was murdered in cold blood in Igangan by Fulani after paying ransom.
Then a couple of Yoruba intelligentsia convened to review the situation. In September 2019, we met at the office of Prof. Anthony Kila in Lagos. The meeting, chaired by second republic senator and professor emeritus of African history, Papa Banji Akintoye, had others in attendance. There was Prof. Adeniran, Prof. Ogundowole, Dr. Akin Fapohunda, Chief Tola Adeniyi and other great intellectuals.
After thorough debate and review of submissions, we formed the Yoruba World Congress. I was made Adviser on Strategy, Kila became Secretary General, broadcasting mogul, Otunba Deji Osibogun, was appointed Organising Secretary and so on. Our goal: Yoruba Nation.
We are no fools. At the risk of sounding immodest, I was in the company of some of the most brilliant and experienced people in the world today. Some of them already professors before I was born.
We concluded on mobilising for our own country, while leaving a door open for dialogue. So far, fierce has been the response while we conduct ourselves peacefully. Tell them we won’t back down. The day we would all sit at home and make Lagos a ghost city, maybe they would force us onto the streets! Fools! You’re dealing with your intellectual superiors. Keep reacting.
That is the story about Yoruba Nation. Of course, those who lack the depth of thoughts and analysis to interrogate the circumstances that led to our position are free to entertain themselves with insulting labelling such as mouthing secessionists endlessly. If they’re intelligent they should ask if that deters us.
We are not ever going to carry weapons. Our wisdom and intelligence are the ultimate weapons, and so far so good. Our approach is civilised, though barbarians come with force, urged on by demented morons with dead consciences and frozen brains.
Anyone who does nothing save to rant on social media, name-calling, is free to do so. It is he who wears the shoes that knows where it pinches.
But note that we are not alone. I think the only zones not opposed to the president style and actively resisting today are the Northwest and Northeast.
Why? People who lack depth, simply focus on the rumblings on the top of the tree, condemning secessionists without sitting back as sound intellectuals would and trace the problem from the roots of the tree.
As far as they’re concerned, anybody expressing dissatisfaction with the present order is doing so because he didn’t get appointment from Buhari, as if that would compensate for the killings going on in one’s homestead and the destruction of farmlands. As if that would make one safe on the highway and immune from abduction.
We have a biased president who is in cahoots with his kinsmen.
Imagine how three OPC men who arrested a notorious Fulani terrorist in Ibarapa and handed him over to the police were locked up instead, while Iskilu Wakilu was released. I’m talking of a cold-blooded murderer that have turned several farming communities to a killing field! Before our very eyes this happened! Google and read about it. And you have the guts to tell me to be a Nigerian patriot, a nationalist bla bla bla. I’m a proud Yoruba man and won’t accept to be a Fulani slave.
If we can’t be equal citizens in Nigeria, protected under the law, we would opt out. It’s a mass movement in Yorubaland, cutting across our diaspora. Yoruba Nation!😀Yes o!
Those who want to be part of Nigeria are free to uphold their unity in adversity. They are free to do so and they should mind their own business. We are no kids. Our first Western education secondary school was built in the mid-19th century: CMS, Lagos. We produced lawyers, surveyors etc before Nigeria was created.
I am an Ijebu man. My great grandparents had been trading in firearms etc with Brazil etc long before we were colonised. In the Anglo-Ijebu war in late 19th century, we fought the British with modern guns to their shock.
We have the highest graduates per capita in Nigeria and we have the most educated black ethnic groups in the Western world as a whole and they’re solidly behind us. Our Muslim community dated back to the 15th century when Malians introduced us to Islam. And we began pilgrimage to Mecca long before the grandfather of Uthman dan Fodio was born. We have dignity to protect. We have honour to defend. We know what is good for us.
If you are too dumb to predicate peace and unity of Nigeria on justice and equity, keep shut! You’re a lunatic, if you don’t, because you’re not making sense!
Chief Obaro, I rest!
Above is an extract of a chat with Professor Olufemi Olufumilade, a former associate of President Buhari.