From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
In a bid to strengthen the struggle for self-determination for Yoruba nation, the Concerned Leaders of Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide (IOOW), have rejected the resignation letters of Prof Banji Akintoye, the leader of the group, and Prof Wale Adeniran, the deputy leader that later became leader of the group, from the movement.
The concerned leaders made this known at a press conference they addressed at the Press Centre of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Iyaganku, Ibadan, Oyo State yesterday.
Akintoye had resigned in the first week of December last year, and was succeeded by Prof Wale Adeniran, his former deputy in the struggle. But Adeniran also resigned as chairman of the group in the first week of January 2023, which is barely a month after assumption of office.
The spokesperson of the Concerned Leaders of IOOW, which is an affiliate of the Yoruba self-determination group, Chief Femi Afolabi, who was supported by other notable leaders on the occasion, said that the group has revalidated and reaffirmed Akintoye, an emeritus professor of History and Second Republic Senator, as the leader of the IOOW, without reservation.
According to him, “it was with a rude shock that we received the letter of resignation of Prof Akintoye from Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide dated December, 5th 2022. For the avoidance of doubt, we need to state unequivocally that we reject Prof Akintoye’s letter of resignation and hereby revalidate and reaffirm him without reservation as leader.
“Also, we are not unaware of the campaign of calumny by some pseudo Yoruba nationalists, who are paid to malign and destroy the hard-earned reputation of Prof Akintoye based on puerile and pedestrian allegations that cannot pass a kindergarten test of empirical verification.
“We urge Prof Akintoye not to despair and dispirited. We feel his pains of advancing the Yoruba cause even in the most inconvenient manner in exile by deploying his meager resources derived mostly from his pension allowances, stipends from his children and occasional royalties from the books authored by him to execute the Yoruba agenda programmes.
“Nevertheless, as a group, we note with utmost gratitude and satisfaction Prof Akintoye’s intellectual engagements with select member nations of the community that are sympathetic to the Yoruba liberation from internal slavery and colonization in a non-violent manner.
“We are equally satisfied and happy with the selfless leadership roles he has played towards the realization of the Yoruba self-determination project. We affirm that Prof Akintoye still remains the face of our collective resolve to liberate our people from the contraption called Nigeria. No other person is known to us in this regard.”
The concerned leaders noted that they converged on Ibadan on Friday, September 23, 2022 to celebrate the Yoruba Unity Day in commemoration of the end of Kiriji War, the longest intra-ethnic war in history.
“On that occasion, the founder of Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide (100W) and leader of the coalition of Yoruba Self Determination Groups, Emeritus Professor Stephen Banji Akintoye, declared the congress open and delivered the keynote address.
“The representatives of almost all Yoruba Self Determination Groups present at that occasion used the opportunity of the programme to move a motion for the revalidation and reaffirmation of Prof Banjo Akintoye as the undisputed leader of the over 200 Yoruba self-determination groups that are affiliates of Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide. The motion was passed without any dissent.
“The question to ask at this juncture which we consider germane to this press conference is “has anything changed from the revalidation and reaffirmation of Professor Banfi Akintoye as leader? The answer to this question is capital no,” Afolabi said.