The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland and national coordinator of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Chief Gani Adams, today, in Lagos, re-echoed the urgent need to restructure Nigeria.
He said if the Federal Government refuses to restructure the country in the next few months, the association would have no better choice than to tale a political stand.
He made this known during the celebration of OPC’s 25th anniversary held in Oregun area of Lagos, where he lamented that the way Nigeria is structured would leave it in nothing else but disaster.
He quickly reminded all at the gathering that the birth of the OPC was as a result of the struggle for the revalidation of the June 12, 1993 presidential mandate of the late MKO Abiola.
Chief Adams said that the congress has demanded a total restructuring of the country, but till date, it has not been achieved.
“And, unfortunately, we have not seen any tangible evidence or sign that we are moving in that direction, with all of us knowing that the way the country is presently structured can only bring nothing but disaster.
“For those who have followed this agitation on restructuring is for the government to implement the recommendations of the National Conference convoked by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“It is in this light that I say that if in the next few months there is no tangible evidence that the country will be restructured, then OPC will become partisan.
“The details we are still keeping to our chest. But with a membership of over six million, even if it is members of the legislature at the states and federal levels that we are able to produce, we will be in a position to influence what happens in the government at all levels. Time for “siddon look” is over,” he stated.
The Aare Onakakanfo stated that OPC has grown from the previous outlook of largely illiterate members who were hitherto regarded as back benchers. He revealed that about 30 per cent of members of the National Coordinating Council (NCC) were graduates, while over 96 per cent of Oodua Progressive Union (OPU) members are graduates.
He disclosed that in the last two months, the police hierarchy has engaged OPC in talks, which he said would unfold in the next six weeks. He said taht the body was also in the plan of the six South West governors in their move to secure the zone.
Taking a cursory look on how the movement started, he said: “I look back at what started 25 years ago as a movement for the validation of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by our own irrepressible Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, the late MKO Abiola, but which today has blossomed into the proverbial Iron tree that, still by the grace of “Olodumare”, can no longer be uprooted.
“From a gathering of just ten men on August 13, 1995 at number 110, Palm Avenue Street, Mushin, in Lagos, the OPC has grown into an organisation of over six million members spreading not just across the South West states but to all parts of Nigeria.
“I recall with nostalgia how my humble self and late Dr. Frederick Fasehun, Evangelist Kunle Adesokan, Silas Alani, Tony Igrube (late), Alhaji Ibrahim Abobanawo (late), Mrs. Idowu Adebowale, Ibrahim Atanda (late) and Olumide Adeniji (late) sat in the law chamber of Opeyemi Bamidele, who was to later become a Commissioner in Lagos State and now senator, to deliberate on the way forward, following the annulment of the freest and fairest election in Nigeria by the Military Junta. This came after several efforts to revalidate the election had failed.
“The OPC is now seen as a rallying point for the Yoruba race. Despite all the evil machinations, we now have membership of over six million. So also has an offshoot of the OPC, the Oodua Progressive Union (OPU), become a force to be reckoned with. The OPU is now in 87 countries globally, with more chapters due to be inaugurated in the days ahead. Indeed, this can only be God.
“We must also place on record the salutary roles played by several key Nigerians, especially, those of Yoruba origin, including the late Bashorun Abiola, without whose courage to step into the political arena, the formation of OPC would not have taken place.
“Our gratitude also goes to the country’s civil society organisations for standing by us through thick and thin. And we won’t forget the Media. Without the support and backing of the men and women of the pen profession, we won’t be where we are.
“The road to where we are has been rough and tortuous. It has been full of ups and downs. Our founding father, the late Dr. Frederick Fasehun, was in prison for over 25 months over this struggle. I spent 17 months in detention after being declared wanted and in hiding for about 14 months. We lost no fewer than 2,500 members to this struggle.
“One of the areas that got people confused the most was where OPC belongs religion-wise. Some were quick to label all members as traditionalists. But they are wrong. OPC is perhaps the most liberal when it comes to religion. We have adherents of all religions,” Adams said.
The guest speaker, Prof. Gabriel Tunde Babawale, said the congress has transformed from militancy to nationalism and cultural diplomacy within and outside Nigeria.
He charged the OPC to always respect the human rights of other people.
He also called for the need for the country to promote social justice and respect for all ethnic groups across Nigeria.
“25 years later, the fear of ethnic margilisation still persist in Nigeria,” he said.