Fidelis David writes that the recent vow by the Chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, that states in the Southwest will not allow any agitation for Oodua Nation and that no sit-at-home order will be tolerated in any state in the zone has again brought the agitation to a limelight.
Despite the fact that the agitations for breakaway states or region in Nigeria are nothing new for the South West, Yoruba Nation activist, Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo, better known as Igboho, has been the lightning rod in recent times.
This has thrived with the support of a professor of History and senator in the Second Republic and the leader of a Yoruba self-determination agitation group, (Ilana Omo Oodua), Prof Banji Akintoye, who resigned from his position recently and handed over the position to his deputy, Wale Adeniran.
Igboho’s Recent Activities
In early January, 2021, Sunday Igboho, became more popular when he gave a seven-day ultimatum to herdsmen to vacate Ibarapa, Oyo State due to the alleged criminal activities of armed herders.
Igboho had then accused the herders of being responsible for the killings, rape and kidnappings of the residents of Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa and despite warning by his state governor, Seyi Makinde, against such action, he invaded Igangan and his visit led to a clash between some Yoruba youth and Fulani in the community while properties worth millions of Naira were reportedly destroyed. It took the intervention of Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and some northern governors to bring the situation under control.
Before then, in Yoruba land, most especially Ondo, Oyo and Osun states had been treated to stories of conflicts between herdsmen, identified as Fulani, and farmers, this made Governor Akeredolu of Ondo state for instance, to give a seven-day ultimatum to the herdsmen in the state forest reserves to vacate the place immediately.
There were lots of families who lost their loved ones, women were raped, families paid ransom and still had to pick up the corpse of their loved ones by the roadside.
The Formation of Amotekun
Don’t forget that in 2020, in a move to strengthen the security situation in the region the South West governors launched a security network – Western Nigeria Security Network Agency code-named Amotekun in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital with six governors including, Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), and former governor Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) backing the decision.
The move was challenged by the Federal Government. Indeed the Presidency in a statement issued by presidential spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu, tried to teach the Governors some elementary constitutional law against regional security outfits.
The Arrest and Detention of Igboho
On July 1, 2021, Igboho was arrested in Benin Republic on his way to Germany alongside his wife who was released shortly after. He left Nigeria after operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) raided his Ibadan residence, destroyed his properties and arrested 12 of the activist’s allies, whisking them away to Abuja, where they were kept in detention.
After a brief legal tussle in August, 2021, the DSS released eight of the aides and then another two were released in September, 2021.
However, on March 7 2021, Igboho was released by the Benin Republic Government to the leader of the umbrella body of Yoruba Self-determination Groups, Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, Professor Banji Akintoye, and his deputy, a French Language Expert and Chieftain of Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, Professor Wale Adeniran.
No Going Back on Yoruba Nation Agitation
Despite spending several months in prison custody, Igboho didn’t relent in his quest for self-determination as he pronto called for dialogue in the quest for the Yoruba nation, maintaining that it can be achieved without bloodshed.
Perhaps, seeing what is happening in Ukraine and some parts of Igboland in Nigeria, he warned against bloodshed and implored all, especially his kinsmen at home and in the diaspora, to embrace dialogue in their quest for self-determination without heating up Nigeria’s polity.
Igboho also recently insisted that there is no going back on his demand for the actualisation of a separate nation for the Yoruba in Nigeria.
Akeredolu’s Negation to Oodua Nation
Again, the Yoruba nation agitation came to the fore last Friday after the Chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, warned those agitating for Oodua Nation to perish the thought.
Akeredolu who spoke at the launch of Emblem Appeal to flag off the 2023 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebrations in Akure said many lives have been laid down for the unity of the country, vowing that states in the Southwest will not allow any agitation that will scuttle the sacrifices of the nation’s heros.
Akeredolu, who stressed that the country is too important to him and his administration, said no sit-at-home order will be tolerated in any state in the Southwest.
His words: “Those clamouring for Oodua nation will not succeed. People have not laid down their lives for this country for unscrupulous individuals to scuttle it. This country is very important to some of us. We recognize the right of the people to protest or agitate. But if the police feel your actions are treasonable, they will arrest and prosecute you. It is not at this stage in the history of this country that we will repeat IPOB in Yoruba land. Opportunity beacons at us. We cannot afford to throw away that opportunity.
“We must work to ensure that there is power shift. The opportunity for presidency to come to the South, especially the Southwest, is around the corner. We will not sit down and support anyone clamouring for Oodua nation. We will not support it. We have fought for this with everything we had. Nigeria will be good. The security agencies will checkmate these unscrupulous enemies embarking on such frivolous activities. We have responsibilities now to soberly reflect on the plight of those who have laid down their lives and those who are still laying down their lives for the unity and peace of this country”, Akeredolu said.
In a swift reaction, the Pan Yoruba Socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, lampooned Akeredolu, saying his statement was most disastrously bereft of statesmanship and national conciliation and shows the the governor is faced with the lust for political power.
The group, in a statement titled, “Akeredolu: Between Equity and Opportunism”, made available to Journalists in Akure by the Secretary General of Afenifere, Sola Ebiseni, said Akeredolu’s position was synonymous to playing to the gallery, as a glorified Chief Security Officer.
The Statement reads: “The statement credited to Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State at the launching of an emblem appeal to flag off the 2023 Armed Forces Remembrance Day unfortunately confirmed the scarcity of statesmanship in our clime particularly faced with the lust for political power.
The group also re-echoed that, for the interest of equity, unity and fairness, it is the turn of the South East to produce the next President of Nigeria.
“Our worry however is that Akeredolu, even as the Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum, would not, in deference to that high pedestal, wean himself from petty politicking which sacrifices equity needed for national peace and cohesion in preference of crass opportunism. In short, his vituperations on that occasion was most disastrously bereft of statesmanship and national conciliation”.
According to the group, “the real intention of Akeredolu’s phony sanctimony was unveiled when he declared that “it is not at this stage in the history of this country that we will repeat IPOB in Yorubaland. Opportunity beckons at us. We cannot afford to throw away that opportunity. We must work to ensure that there is power shift. The opportunity for the presidency to come to the south, especially the South-West, is around the corner. We will not sit and support anyone clamouring for Oodua nation. We will not support it. We have fought for this with everything we had. Nigeria will be good”.
“Akeredolu is within his right as the South West Coordinator of his party’s campaigns to imagine the opportunity coming his way and his party in the pipe dream of presidential power”.
The Yoruba group noted that it was “unimaginable that the Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum would descend to the abys of equating his pontification for the equity of a Southern Presidency with the hegemony of his or other ethnic nationality.
According to Afenifere, to say that the clamour for Southern President was especially for South West was not only most insensitive but also to make a fool of Akeredolu’s colleagues outside of South West.
“No wonder then that the Governor of Delta state in whose office the Southern Governors’ Conference was held was the first to betray the cause by accepting the second fiddle position of the Vice President to the detriment of what has turned out to be their feeble declarations.
“The unkindest cut of Akeredolu’s new song was his reference to IPOB as if he had any control over the choice of a different modus operandi employed by different agitating groups in Nigeria. Truth be told, there is no region of Nigeria where the elite including the ruling class in Government has been able to determine the methods adopted by agitators or succeeded in checkmating the effects thereof.
“So, let Akeredolu not boast of any capacity to dictate the method adopted by the Yoruba agitators or seek to set the rest of Nigeria against his Ndigbo colleagues or the entire South East in his unhidden separatist agenda of securing undue advantage for his party and region in the quest for the Nigerian President of Southern extraction”.
It noted, that “the true and real recipe for peace and continued corporate existence of Nigeria, is an arrangement that will guarantee regional equity and not an ‘emi lo kan’ philosophy in the mode of King Louis’s l’état c’est moi”
“Incidentally , those who fought the civil war, truly shed their youthful blood and have seen all about Nigeria, are now in the vanguard of the national movement not only for Southern but in the quest for the requisite equity are in the queue for the Nigerian President of South East extraction. There lies the solution to separatist agitations and not self-serving sanctimonious pontifications”, the group added.