In what could be described as a rude shock to many Yoruba people within and beyond the nation of Nigeria, reports flittered into the media space on the evening of Thursday 29th 2020 that an Emeritus Professor of History and Second Republic Senator, Adebanji Stephen Akintoye, has been deposed as the elected leader and spokesperson of the Yoruba Ethnic Nationality.
In a communiqué reportedly issued after its meeting and made available to newsmen in Ibadan, Oyo-State, the Assembly of Yoruba Groups Worldwide which declared Akintoye as Yoruba Leader on 22nd August 2019, said the emeritus Professor of History was being disowned because he (Akintoye) has left the Yoruba World Congress (YWC) which the Assembly of Yoruba Groups transformed to in October 2019 to form another umbrella body of Yoruba Socio-cultural and self-determination Groups known as ILANA OMO OODUA.
The purported communiqué disowning Akintoye as Yoruba Leader, reported to be signed by the Chairman of the October 29th Ibadan Meeting, Elder Taye Ayorinde (Baale of Ekotedo), Chief Imam of Yoruba Land, Ilorin, Sheikh Adulraheem Aduramigba, Convener of the Meeting, Comrade Victor Taiwo, Founder of Movement for Oduduwa Republic (MOFORE), Arc. George Akinola, Bishop George Adegbolagun, Comrade Eric Oluwole, Agbekoya Leader, Papa Olalere Ayalu, Comrade Abereoran, Mr. Bayo Sangotikun and the leader of Oodua Liberation Movement (OLM), Comrade Taiwo Otitolaye, has now been described as untrue, fabricated and concocted to embarrass Akintoye by some fifth columnists who want to cause disunity in Yoruba Land.
The convener of the meeting, Comrade Victor Taiwo, has also apologised to some leaders whose name were mentioned in the communiqué and took responsibility for the report which he (Taiwo) said was sent out by some overzealous people who want to embarrass him.
The apology letter, which was personally signed by Taiwo and addressed to Aduranigba, Akinola, Adegbolagun, Abereoran, Sangotikun and Otitolaye, which was seen by our correspondent titled “Public / Official Apology on Communiqué” reads in part:
“Although, it would be utterly irresponsible of me to claim ignorance of the communiqué issued after the programme of 29th October as the principal conductor of the programme, I must however confess that I was highly embarrassed to read the communiqué myself as put together by an overzealous element who I suspect did not mean well for me by writing against our intent and especially, by unnecessarily drawing up a long list of people not party to the document.
“In spite of this, I take full responsibility for the whole embarrassing situation and please in the name of God that you pardon the error. Our apology is unreserved,” the apology letter concluded.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the self-determination groups who attended the October 29th Ibadan Conference, in a statement on Sunday 1st November, reaffirmed Akintoye as Yoruba Leader and equally passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of the Emeritus Professor.
The group leaders said the statement was meant to formalise the voice vote that reaffirmed Akimtoye as Yoruba Leader at the October 29th meeting.
The statement, titled “The Unsuccessful Attempt To Remove Banji Akintoye As Yoruba Leader” and signed by Akinola, Otitolaye, Alhaji Tola Jubril and the Leader of Federation of Yoruba Consciousness, Basorun. Kunle Adesokan, said the convener of the October 29th event, Comrade Victor Taiwo invited all well-meaning Yoruba groups and individuals to the conference to make a statement on the security situation in Yoruba Land and to take a position on the fall-out of ENDSARS Lekki Shooting that has been condemned globally but they were all shocked to see Taiwo railroading them towards removing Akintoye as Yoruba leader which was promptly foiled by all the people present at the meeting.
Some parts of the statement reads:
“The ill-advised adventure of Comrade Victor Olu Taiwo on Thursday October 29, 2020 to remove Prof. Banji Akintoye as Yoruba leader started as a whisper a few weeks before the fateful day. All Leaders of Yoruba Groups were invited for a meeting at Ibadan as a follow up to the maiden edition of August 22, 2019 where Professor Banji Akintoye was overwhelmingly endorsed and elected as the new Yoruba leader to lead Yoruba out of the morass they find themselves within Nigeria.
“Comrade Victor Taiwo convened the first one, as well as this second one. After the speech of Professor Banji Akintoye as the Yoruba leader had been delivered by his representative, “Basorun Kunle Adesokan, Victor Taiwo came up to read his prepared speech which had earlier been circulated among the audience. Hardly had he gone halfway before strident calls for observation came from prominent leaders among the audience.
“Their complaint centred on the fact that we were invited neither to discuss any issue concerning the leader nor any purported attempt to change or remove him. Some of us who had rapidly gone through the prepared paper had noticed the rude, degrading remarks made about the person of Professor Banji Akintoye and the surreptitiously concocted plan to remove the leader.
“Sacrilegious! No Yoruba leader since Obafemi Awolowo had ever been chosen by an assembly of Yoruba people to be removed later. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was Yoruba leader until he peacefully passed away. Chief Adekunle Ajasin, who succeeded the sage, died as Yoruba leader. Senator Abraham Adesanya, equally, was called to the great beyond while he was the leader. Professor Banji Akintoye’s case will not be different!
“We must note that these great leaders had led Yoruba in times of crisis and succeeded in steering Yoruba people through those turbulent periods with a strong hand of leadership. Right now, Yoruba is facing an existential threat as a people within the contraption of a country called Nigeria. Our people are being killed, raped, kidnapped and disgraced all over the polity. There is no better time than now that Yoruba need a strong, steady, committed, bold and courageous leader to steer its ship through the stormy and turbulent waters of today’s Nigeria.
“No Yoruba leader, NONE, has come forward to boldly challenge the status quo and demand for Yoruba freedom from Nigeria and the creation of a separate Yoruba Nation for the traumatized Yoruba people, except Professor Adebanji Stephen Akintoye and his committed lieutenants.
“One exceptional thing about the Yoruba is that the Yoruba know their leaders! Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to enslave!! Victor Taiwo’s unilateral underhand action to plot for the leader’s removal was immediately deciphered, and people rose up in unison to oppose this retrogressive suggestion.
“In the speech, he proposed a phantom eleven man interim governing council made up of: Elder Dr. Taye Ayorinde JP as chairman, Dr. Amos Akingba, Chief Tola Adeniyi, Dr. Tunde Amusat, Sheikh AbdulRaheem Aduranigba, Prof. Olukayode Ogundaro, Otunba Deji Osibogun, Mrs. Dupe Ajayi Gbadebo, Comrade Laoye Sanda, Mr. Tajudeen Raimi and Comrade Victor Taiwo (himself).
“Almost all of these people, including Adeniyi, Akingba, Osibogun, Amusat, (including we the signatories to this statement), have come out to deny that they were never consulted on the matter, nor did they ever give their consent. The Assembly of all Yoruba groups worldwide, which Victor Taiwo convened for the meeting and on whose mandate he claimed to be speaking rose up and vociferously to denounce his claims and the grounds on which they were based.
“They rose up as one to condemn the speech and the thoughts of the purveyors behind it. Everyone in the hall loudly supported the motion to re-affirm Prof. Banji Akintoye as Yoruba leader and would vehemently resist any attempt at a re-visit of this matter or any other ill-brained attempt to disrupt Yoruba harmony. Prof. Banji Akintoye remains Yoruba leader, and we, the Assembly of all Yoruba Groups stand resolutely behind him.” The statement, said.
In a related development, one of the leaders whose name appeared on the reported communiqué removing Akintoye as Yoruba Leader, Dr. Tunde Amusat, had, in a public memo addressed to Taiwo, dissociated himself from the communiqué. Amusat said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the progress of Yoruba Land and reaffirm Akintoye as Yoruba Leader.
The Ibadan based Medical practitioner said adding his name to a concocted communiqué is a mere “name-dropping”. He said the failed attempt to remove Akintoye has inadvertently robbed the conference of its dignity.
He said inter alia: “Wish to remind you sir, with utmost respect and reverence, that the mandate to lead the Yoruba, given to Prof. Akintoye, without him soliciting for it on the 22nd August, 2019 through consensus was revalidated unanimously yesterday despite the needles rancorous atmosphere.
“The communiqué purportedly suspending or removing our Leader was motivated by vindictiveness and an attempt to personalise the collective efforts of majority of the Yoruba Self Determination Groups that abinitio elected Prof. Akintoye as Leader. Any attempt to remove him is therefore dead on arrival.
“I take personal exception to addressing the Leader in an uncouth manner. Recall, my attempts through working behind the scenes to have a rancour free conference. As an Elder in Yoruba land, I cannot be anywhere and tolerate anybody reduce your personality to the micro dot of a sentence without censuring such a person is reprimanded.
“When has it become a crime for anybody to form any organization? Up till Monday, I thought we were still on the same page along with our people in UK and USA that Prof. Akintoye shall be reaffirmed as leader at the conference. Of course, the last straw that broke the camel’s was the treachery mischievously hatched to remove the leader. This inadvertently robbed the conference of dignity, trust and patriotic tendencies.
“Why must my name and others used as signatories to the communiqué without the opportunity of having input into it. It’s like shaving our heads in our absence. This is nothing but name dropping of the highest order,” Amusat said.