By Tunde Thomas, Lagos and From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Yoruba leaders are sharply divided on the issue of self-determination for Oduduwa Republic to be carved out of the present Nigeria.
The discordant tunes came to full limelight on Wednesday March 17, 2021, when some leading Yoruba socio-cultural groups converged on Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. Both camps differently appraised security and economy situations in the South West.
The Pan-Yoruba Congress, the Afenifere, Afenifere Renewal Group, Yoruba Koya, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and so on, met at Mapo Hall and advocated unity among the Yoruba race in order to overcome the insecurity threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria. They also proffered solutions to the trade imbalance between the North and the South West. But they still believe in corporate existence of the nation. But the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS), Ilana Omo Oodua, and others also met at the international headquarters of the Ilana Omo Oodua, Bodija, few hours after the security and economic summit at Mapo Hall. They unofficially agreed with the position of the stakeholders at Mapo Hall on security and economy of the South West. But they felt a bit disappointed that the Mapo Hall meeting did not address the germane issue of self-determination for Oduduwa Republic.
The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams facilitated the meeting at Mapo Hall, while an erudite historian, Prof Banji Akintoye, the Chairman of NINAS and Ilana Omo Oouda, led the meeting at Bodija. Akintoye was supported by Secretary of the group, Tony Nnaji. The Bodija meeting was also attended by the Yoruba activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemi, fondly called Sunday Igboho, who also threw his weight behind self-determination for Oduduwa Republic.
However, Secretary-General of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr. Kunle Olajide, in his reaction to the development, dismissed speculations that the South West would break from Nigeria and form a Yoruba nation. He contended that having a Yoruba nation at present is unrealistic, adding that it is not the solution to the myriads of challenges facing the nation.
According to him, what is most important for the nation now is to have a new constitution that will address the problem of insecurity and other issues being raised by many Nigerians, who are angry about the present state of affairs in the country.
“We have to tread carefully over this issue. For those who are advocating a Yoruba nation or a break-up of the country, I don’t think that is realistic for now. It is not going to be that easy. We have all been living together for over 100 years, and there is no way a break up will not have some disastrous consequences. Although you can’t force people to live together against their own wish, we have to tread carefully over the issue.
“What we need immediately is a brand new constitution, a people’s constitution that will address all these issues and give all Nigerians a sense of belonging. What Nigerians want is equity and justice. They want a just and egalitarian society, where nobody will be treated as second-class citizens. However the new constitution must be subjected to a national referendum.
“Buhari by now should have addressed the nation for Nigerians to know where he stands and his position. His failure to do so is not in the best interest of the nation, and is one of the reasons why you have tension all over the place. But sincerely speaking, a new constitution will help to diffuse tension across the land,” he said.
But Prof Akintoye, said there is no going back on the Oduduwa Republic. He explained that NINAS is aggregating the indigenous nations and Peoples of Southern and Middle-Belt of Nigeria, who have found themselves at the receiving end of a most vicious ethnic cleansing onslaught by heavily-armed invading Fulani militia, masquerading as herdsmen. He, however, cautioned the Federal Government against the conduct of the 2023 general elections in order to avoid anarchy in the country. He argued that the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria has expired.