Governors, leaders meet to plot way forward
‘It is in our interest to unite as a region, race, and as people’
From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
A fresh wind is currently blowing across Yorubaland. The development started in the last quarter of 2016, and it is gathering momentum by the seconds. The fresh air, geared towards renaissance of Yoruba Nation, has brought notable Yoruba leaders together on several occasions to chart a new political direction for the South-West geo-political zone.
Eminent Yoruba leaders have meet on three occasions within the last two months and agreed that they would never allow politics to divide the region again. The three meetings seemed to have sent a clear message that many of the political gladiators in Yorubaland are not happy with the national leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and by extension what the zone has been getting from the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The fresh air has brought together bigwigs in APC, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Accord Party (AP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Labour Party (LP) and others. They shelved the toga of their political differences and brainstormed on the common interest of the Yoruba race ahead of 2019 general elections.
Daily Sun gathered that Yoruba political leaders may move in droves out of PDP, APC and other parties to form a new political party or move en masse into an existing party to form a formidable front ahead of 2019.
The APC is said to have internal crisis, which has divided the political juggernauts in the party into two camps. Members of the first camp are loyal to the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, while members of the second camp are purportedly loyal to the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and President Muhammadu Buhari.
Members of PDP in the South West are also divided into two factions, with one supporting Ahmed Makarfi-led national caretaker committee, and the other supporting Interim National chairman, Ali-Modu Sheriff.
But on Saturday January 20, 2017 Yoruba leaders in the Southwest geo-political zone converged on the Jogor Event Centre in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State and brainstormed on a uniform party for the Yoruba.
The colloquium, chaired by former Acting National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, who is a former governor of the State of Osun, was organised by a Yoruba political organisation, Yoruba Patriotic Movement (YPM). The programme was attended by Yoruba leaders from across various political parties in the country, agreeing that if a new party would not be founded, most of them could move en masse into an existing party.
Present at the meeting were former ambassador to the Philippines, Chief Yemi Farounbi; a leader of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Fredrick Fasehun; former aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe; and former military governor of Lagos State, Gen Raji Rasaki (retd).
Others were former Super Eagles chief coach, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde; former President General, Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), Chief Bayo Oyero; a chieftain of Accord Party, Senator Femi Lanlehin; Aare of Efon Kingdom, Dr. Kunle Olajide; Secretary to Oyo State Government, Alhaji Olalekan Alli, who represented Governor Ajimobi; Prof Soji Adejumo; and Mr Tunde Adejuyigbe, who represented Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State.
The YPM wanted all political leaders and their followers, which cut across APC, PDP, Accord, SDP, LP and other parties to be in one political party. The meeting agreed that there should be a Yoruba summit, Yoruba economic agenda and that all Yoruba groups should register under the YPM.
In his address, Akande said the focal point of the programme centred on unity in politics among the Yoruba, irrespective of party affiliation, saying: “After this, whenever and wherever we will meet, even if not in my house, wherever we will meet, I must be there. However, we must understand our languages.”
Speaking on how to achieve academic excellence in education sector in the South West, Akande stated: “They have destroyed our education. It is my prayer that God will help us to rebuild. The representatives of governors here have a lot of work to do.
“We learnt that Lagos State House of Assembly now uses Yoruba language to legislate, I give kudos to them. Soonest, the same assembly may convene one day and have nobody to speak Yoruba language again, and this will not be possible again.”
He enjoined the six governors in the zone to ensure that teaching instructions in primary schools from primary one to six in Yorubaland are done in Yoruba language, saying: “When we were in schools, all subjects were taught in Yoruba language and we were even learning Yoruba language as single subject on its own. Those who learnt Yoruba then are those who can speak with courage today. We must start now.
“Nobody will arrest us, even if it is written in the constitution that the Federal Government has control over education. If our governors start this, nobody can arrest them. Let us try it again and teach our children in Yoruba language. We must encourage teaching Yoruba in our schools before its goes into extinction.
“Some of our are people take pride that their wards can’t speak Yoruba, in our land English Language is vernacular, Yoruba is the real language.”
Former Chief of Staff to ex-governor Adebayo Alao-Akala in Oyo State, Dr. Saka Balogun, who is the interim chairman of YPM, said: “We want as many as possible Yoruba politicians to be in the same political party. It might not be possible for all of us to be in the same party, but if most of us are in the same party, it would be more convenient for the agenda we plan to set to work out well.
“We are not seceding from Nigeria, but we are maintaining that we don’t want a situation where Yorubas will not be given the due respect or honour it deserves in this country. It is not compulsory that we establish a new party; it is possible that we all move en mass to an existing party. Such a party definitely won’t remain the same again.”
Former Senior Special Assistant on Political Matters to former president Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe, also noted: “We cannot but have a Yoruba agenda as long as we are in Nigeria. We must have an agenda. And it is not that we can come up with that here (at the meeting). But we must note it that we must have one.
“On restructuring of Nigeria, most people are misinterpreting us (the Yoruba) that we want to secede; that’s why we are clamouring for restructuring, but it is not true. Yoruba believe in our hard work. In the days of Awolowo, we can see what they made of the Western Region. Till today, both state and federal governments have not matched up with that standard.
“We are clamouring for restructuring so that we can have independence to harness our sweat, hard work and intelligence for the development of our people. You can’t compare educational setting in Ibadan, Ile-Ife and other parts in the Southwest with what is in practice in Maiduguri or Kano. One legislation cannot guide education throughout Nigeria, that is impossible.”
Okupe added: “In our agenda, we must re-echo it that education should be the bedrock of the agenda. Whatever it will cost us, we should be ready to give it. If we say we should wait till when Nigeria is ready to determine where Yoruba is heading to, it may spell doom. The constitution of this country accepts that we are a federation. And as a federation, we have the grace to call all Yoruba nation that this is the path we wish to tread as Yoruba people.”
It was suggested that Chief Bisi Akande have a lot of work to do so that all political leaders in the zone including former governors of Oyo State, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, and Senator Rashidi Ladoja; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, are brought under one meeting to forge a common goal.
The Aare of Efon Kingdom, Dr. Kunle Olajide, said the recent projected population of the “Yorubas is 50 million in Nigeria and another 50million in the Diaspora. We are therefore here for a serious business of resetting agenda for 100million people in this hostile season of economic recession.
“We are resetting the Yoruba Nation agenda in the context of a stable, prosperous and progressive Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is not a separatist or secessionist agenda. Yoruba Nation agenda is not exclusively for the people alone to the exclusion of the other nationalists that make up Nigeria.
“The Yoruba Nation demands a new order for Nigeria. The existing order is unacceptable to most Nigerians as evidenced by the various agitation and state of insecurity, virtually enveloping the country.”
National Coordinator of YPM, Oladosu Oladipo, revealed that the movement had visited Governors Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), and Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), as well as Yoruba leaders including Asiwaju Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Olusegun Obasanjo, Olu Falae and Pa Reuben Fasoranti.
According to him, the movement has also called at the palaces of royal fathers including Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo, Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Ajero of Ijero, Alake of Egbaland, Awujale of Ijebuland, Olu of Ilaro, Alara of Aramoko, Orangun of Ila, Timi of Ede and Oluwo of Iwo.
The APC stakeholder in the South West on Thursday January 12, 2017, brokered peace between Tinubu as well as Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
The reconciliation was done at the South West APC stakeholders’ meeting, convened by former Interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, which was held at the Executive Chambers of Oyo State Governor’s Office, Ibadan.
The meeting was convened for APC in the zone to form a formidable front ahead of 2019 general elections and to get what rightly belongs to it from the Federal Government. The meeting resolved that divisions within the party in the South West would take the zone to nowhere.
Tinubu as well as serving and former governors, ministers, and National Assembly members from the South West extraction discussed collective interest of the South West. The meeting x-rayed the APC-led Federal Government, under President Muhammadu Buhari, which the zone played active role in its emergence in 2015. The meeting also sent a message to Buhari on issues bothering the zone, but details of the message was not disclosed to journalists.
Former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, described the APC South-West stakeholders meeting as a meeting of elders, saying: “We met principally to discuss the issues in all ramifications, affecting the South-West and we have come out with a resolution to show that in the SouthWest of APC, there is unity of purpose. The leadership is one. We are all together on all issues and we have resolved on all the issues concerning the governance of this country and what should be the role and influence that we should exercise as a group for the interest of this country and the progress of this country.
“We have examined the government that we were all involved in bringing about, and we have reviewed all the issues.
All those that will be taken to Abuja will be taken to Abuja by those concerned. We have related with our legislative arm, the National Assembly members, leaders at the party level and all these issues were taken exhaustively.
“We have related with all our governors and I can assure you that from now onward, there will be total harmony and consultation among our governors for the development of South West of Nigeria. The South West is the leader of the progressives and we are determined to re-assert our interest in the progressive politics of this country for the betterment of Nigeria.”
The roll call at the meeting included Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Raji Fashola (SAN); Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Minister of Communication, Mr. Adebayo Shittu; and Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole.
The list also comprised Governors Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Akinwumi Ambode (Lagos), and Rauf Aregbesola (Osun). Former governors of Osun and Ogun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Chief Olusegun Osoba, as well as former governors of Ekiti State, Adeniyi Adebayo and Segun Oni; and former were also in attendance.
Leader, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; National Legal Adviser of the party, Dr. Muiz Banire; and Senate Chief Whip, Prof Sola Adeyeye; and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Prof Claudius Daramola.
On Monday November 21, 2016, South-West Governors’ Forum, being chaired by Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State met in Ibadan resolved not to allow political differences to truncate the common goods of the Yoruba race, saying they would not allow politics to divide the region again.
They all agreed to work together within the framework of people-centred development towards the unity of the Yoruba people in order to evolve regional integration that will accelerate the growth and development of the region.
The meeting held at the Executive Chambers of Oyo State Governor’s office, had in attendance governors Akinwumi Ambode, Ibikunle Amosun, Rauf Aregbesola, Ayodele Fayose and Olusegun Mimiko who was represented by the Secretary to State Government, Dr. Rotimi Adelola.
They deliberated on issues of common interests affecting the geo-political zone. Fayose, who read the communique, said the meeting resolved to “better the lot of their people, play politics of development, play politics that will bring food to the table of the average South westerner.
“We have agreed that beyond our differences, the region must come first and we must have unity of purpose beyond politics, an economic base that we can be proud of. We need unity, regardless our differences. We have agreed to use this collaboration to improve on our infrastructure, commerce, security, agriculture and beyond. When we stand together, we will achieve all these for the people.
“All states, including Ekiti, have subscribed and agreed that regional integration is the best and the way forward and we should do everything to realise this gsfor the people, the Yoruba race.”
Ajimobi, noted that “except for occasional opportunities, mostly in Abuja, and perhaps at social and informal functions, we do not meet together as a forum. There is no organised format for meetings and therefore the capacity for common positions on issues affecting the region is blunt. This is dangerous.
“Going forward, we must ensure that never again will our busy schedules prevent us from meeting periodically to review notes and brainstorm together on issues affecting us as a people and seeking common solutions.”
Amosun said: “There is no way the part can be bigger than the whole. It is in our interest to unite as a region, race, and as a people. What we want to improve upon is the regularity of the people, commerce, economy, security, youth, sporting activities, culture, values, infrastructure. We are looking at a train that will run from Lagos to Ekiti.
“We are collaborating, interfacing among one another. We want to feed Lagos, clothe Lagos, move Lagos. We recognise that we can use Lagos state as a launch pad that all states in the region will collaborate. We will look at areas where we have comparative advantage and leverage on that. We can look up to one another in areas like agriculture, education, infrastructure for political reasons.”
The next meeting holds in Ekiti State next month while that of the Yoruba Patriotic Movement may hold in Ila-Orangun, the country home of Chief Bisi Akande.
The APC in the South West has also set up a reconciliation committee to resolve the internal wrangling among its leadership in the geo-political zone.