Arewa, Yoruba romance: How long will it last?

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By DAUD OLATUNJI
How durable would be the new found romance between the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF and the Yoruba Unity Forum, YUF? Their relationship is one that has left many open-mouthed.

How firm is the Yoruba Unity Forum’s poise as a Pan-Yoruba platform? That is first the question arising from the entreaty to it from some of the major ethnic cum regional groupings in the country.

Few months the Edwin Clark led South-South Peoples Assembly knocked on the door of the YUF for political collaboration.

Last Thursday it was the turn of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF to engage the Chief (Mrs.) Hannah Awolowo led YUF.

But the YUF’s claim to a pan-Yoruba mandate remains tenacious as ever.

For instance, the body is not recognised as an acceptable platform by most of the governors in the region.

The only exception could by Governor Segun Mimiko of Ondo State who incidentally is the only governor not belonging to the dominant party in the region, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. Mimiko belongs to the Labour Party and has sometimes sought to forge alliance with elements in the YUF and related groups that are seemingly antagonistic to the ACN.

It is as such not surprising that the Chief Mrs HID Awolowo-led YUF mostly seems to comprise the old political warhorses who do not move along with the current political mainstream in the Southwest as mostly dictated by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Apart from the ACN political stakeholders, a number of prominent traditional rulers have also, consistently boycotted the meetings of the forum.

With the particular exception of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okuande Sijuade who attends the meetings regularly, a number of equally prominent Yoruba traditional rulers like the Olubadan of Ibadan Olugbade Adelana, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Awujale of Ijebuland Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, Alake of Egbaland Oba Aremu Gbadebo and a host of others have kept their backs to the activities of the forum.

So, given the fact that the YUF is easily seen to be a body lacking political control of the region many have expressed surprise at the approach towards it by the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF.

Sources within the YUF reveal that the group is poised to foster good relationship with other ethnic groupings in the country towards achieving a high profile role for the group ahead of the 2015 election.

How the ACF and the YUF can mutually help themselves was alleged to be the reason for last Thursday’s landmark meeting. The ACF, it is believed, is desperate to win the support of the Southwest for its agitation of power shift to the north in 2015. The YUF would not mind helping the ACF, if only it could also boost its profile in the polity.

As part of their strategies, the two groups held a-two hour closed door meeting at the Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State home of Awolowos.

Present at the meeting were the Yeye Oodua, Chief (Mrs.) HID Awolowo, representative of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, some traditional rulers from the South West and delegates representing the ACF and YUF.

The YUF delegation was led by Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Gbonigi while that of the ACF was led by Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, the national chairman of the ACF.

Before the meeting entered into closed door, Mrs. Awolowo in a welcome address explained that the sole purpose of the meeting was to proffer solutions to the problems facing Nigeria.

She expressed optimism that the outcome would be beneficial to all Nigerians.
Mrs. Awolowo noted that the meeting was first of its kind featuring the joint political leadership of the entire North as embodied in the ACF and its counterpart in the South West as embodied in the YUF.

According to her, the meeting is timely and historical, the meeting will signal a new page in the history of inter-ethnic harmony and cooperation in Nigeria .

Among the ACF delegates were the former Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, Senator Joseph Waku, former Ambassador to Morocco , Ladan Shuni, former Military Governor of Katsina and Plateau States , Major-General Lawrence Onoja and former Electoral Commissioner, Bayelsa State ,

Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed.Others included Ambassador Ibrahim Mai-Sule, Brigadier-General M.A. Umar, Senator Abubakar Girei, Bitrus Gwadah, Mallam Bukar Zarma, Mr. Anthony Sani, Hon. Musa Tanko Abari, Alhaji Abubakar Husaini Moriki, Engr. Abubakar Umar, Col. M.A. Audu (rtd), Col. Musa Shehu (rtd) and Fati Ibrahim.

Members of YUF present were Senator Anthony Adefuye, Senator Femi Okurounmu, Chief (Mrs) Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Chief Gani Oguntoyinbo, Dr. Kunle Olajide, Princess Funmilayo Sangodoyin, Chief Tokunbo Ajasin, High Chief Abiola Ogundokun, Dr Fredick Fasehun, Hon. Omosanya Solaja, Prof. Ope Adekunle, Ambassador Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu and Dr. Abdul-Lateef Omowunmi.

At the end of the meeting, it was resolved that a national dialogue was desirable for the country to move forward.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the two organisations lamented the pervasive corruption, bad governance and insecurity, saying all the ills are traceable to bad leadership.

They also urged Nigerians to de-emphasise ethnicity, religion and issues that divide the country “while emphasising issues that bind us together as a nation.”

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