From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Prominent Yoruba monarchs have said the agitation for Oduduwa nation can be halted if the Federal Government addresses the call for restructuring.
Two first class monarchs, Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, and the Olugbon of Orile Igbon, Oba Francis Alao, who is the Deputy Chairman of Oyo State Council of Obas spoke with Saturday Sun on Friday.
They traditional rulers appraised the issues that led to agitation for Oduduwa Republic and returned verdict that the agitators have a genuine cause, based on the insecurity pervading Nigeria, nepotism, marginalization and situation, whereby some sections of the country have been positioned to be superior to other sections.
Though they warned that if the insecurity, marginalization and other forms of disputes continue, a breakup of the country might be inevitable, they did not, however, support the breakup of the country. Instead, they advocated restructuring of the nation such that true federalism would be practiced in Nigeria.
Said Olubadan: “There is no doubt that in Nigeria, a lot of people have a grouse against the way our system is being operated. What we have is not true federalism. This gave rise to separatists’ movements. If we must separate, it is not something you will announce in the mass media. Yoruba nation is not monolithic. You will have to take opinions of people before pursuing the agenda.
“As monarchs, it is our responsibility to consult deities and oracles before taking such step. Then, there must be consultations with religious leaders, politicians, business interests. If you are agitating for Oduduwa Republic, many people and groups will ask if you consulted them. You don’t take people for granted.
“What I am saying is that the consultation for self-determination should also be held differently with the people of Ibadan, Ijebu, Egba, Ondo, and so on, as well as the Yoruba in Kwara, Kogi and in the diaspora, on whether they want Oduduwa Republic or not. This is a serious issue. It is not what can be achieved in one day. If you do, you will put any lives on the harm’s way.”
Oba Adetunji, who spoke through his Personal Assistant and Director of Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Adeola Oloko, said if the issues of structural imbalance, lopsided appointments into national positions and others divisive factors in Nigeria could be holistically addressed, the agitation for self-determination would have been addressed.
Deputy Chairman of Oyo State Council of Obas, Oba Alao, said the agitation for self-determination boils down to the fact that the government has failed Nigerians. He added: “So, we begin to have so many people and groups agitating for secession or self-determination. But how do we curtail this? We need to talk to the agitators. Our government needs to engage our youth. You cannot be saying you want to arrest them today, you want to arrest them tomorrow; you need to engage them into dialogue, call them for meeting and reason together. Then, there are problems of tribalism and nepotism in government. Apparently, some sections of the country feel they are more superior to other sections in the country.
“So, for me, I am not going to blame those agitators for self-determination. I will blame the government, especially the Federal Government. We need to restructure our system. The Nigeria Police Force is not functioning the way it should. If you look at it, do the police have better welfare? The defence is nothing to write home about. So, all these issues are things we need to rework and readdress properly. Also, top traditional rulers, the Federal Government should call us, let us sit down and reason together.
“Things cannot continue to go on this way. If they continue, break-up of the country may come. I do not pray for a breakup of the country. But the only solution is for the government to engage the agitators in dialogue. And then, let us restructure our system.”