Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
An 84-year-old renowned academic, historian and writer, Prof. Banji Akintoye, has emerged as the fourth leader of the Yoruba race.
The three persons before him were the former Premier of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo; former governor of Ondo State, Pa Adekunle Ajasin; and former leader of Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and political organisation, Pa Abraham Adesanya.
Akintoye, who was a senator from 1979 to 1983, during the Second Republic, emerged the fourth leader at a meeting organised by Assembly of All Yoruba Groups Worldwide, at Gloryview Hotel, Bodija, Ibadan, yesterday.
Delegates from at least 48 Yoruba emancipation organisations, across the world, participated in the meeting.
Nominations of notable Yoruba leaders were made at the meeting to fill the vacancy, but Akintoye had the support of the majority to emerge as the new leader.
Baale of Ekotedo, Ibadan, Taiye Ayorinde, who chaired the meeting, said since the death of Pa Adesanya on April 27, 2008, the office has remained vacant and the Yoruba have become disunited, including traditional rulers because there was no leader to dictate the direction, which Yoruba race should gravitate.
According to him, he got in touch with the Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, to become the leader of Yoruba race, but he refused the overture on the grounds that his age would not allow him to take up the responsibility.
Chief convener of the meeting, Victor Taiwo, described the choice of Akintoye as phase one of the assignment, adding that phase two would feature an official investiture of the leader via an elaborate ceremony that would involve all the governors in the South West, monarchs, political office holders, the Yoruba in the diaspora, organisations, and the public, where a sceptre of office would be presented to the new leader.
He said setting up of an institutionalised secretariat, which would coordinate and articulate the various issues of Yoruba concerns and under which every organisation would find a good haven, would be the phase three of the project.
“From this point, we are good to go in tackling and resolving all the multifarious challenges on the ground under a single veritable leadership and harmony of coordination among the entire groups and the people of Yoruba race,” Taiwo said.