By Dele Sobowale
“On top of these, says YUF [Yoruba Unity Forum] some Ministers such as that of Aviation have specialized in sacking the Yoruba from agencies under their control and replacing them with favourites from their preferred ethnic groups”. Idowu Akinlotan, in PALLADIUM, Sunday, February 17, 2013.
In almost twenty years of writing this column, I have never written any article in support of anyone because he is “my brother”; neither have I written one against anyone because he is not “my brother”. OBJ received the same treatment as Babangida, Abacha, Yar’Adua and, now, Jonathan.
Segun Aganga and, now, Adewunmi are undergoing the same interrogation as Alison Madueke and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The current Minister of Aviation is the first Minister to ever attract my attention in this regard because of mounting evidence of her deliberate tribal hostility. She has started the war; she will not determine when it will end and how.
Until recently, I had taken very little interest in the matter of Yoruba marginalization as alleged by the Yoruba Unity Forum, the original Afenifere group, and, now, Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG. To my mind, the marginalisation of Yoruba by Jonathan’s administration and specifically some Ministers was caused to a large extent by the Yoruba leaders themselves – and that includes all the leaders without exception.
Unlike, Doyin Okupe’s and Chief Richard Akinjide’s views, my grouse is simple. Yoruba people can now be easily marginalized and persecuted because divisive politics had made it impossible for us to unite to fight our common causes irrespective of political affiliation. An organization, AGBAJO YORUBA AGBAYE, AYA, formed for that purpose, was allowed to die by some of those now shedding crocodile tears.
For a start, how can anyone explain the idiocy, no apologies for that, of Yoruba trooping to the polls in 2011 to vote Action Congress of Nigeria in every election only to turn around and vote PDP for the presidential? Everyone, who must have “voted for Jonathan not PDP” can now accept responsibility for this situation in which we find ourselves.
The leaders of the ACN who brokered the deal for the switch to PDP have allowed Okupe, who will say anything, to make his nonsensical claim. Had the South West stood firmly behind Ribadu, the outcome might have been different. So, let’s be done with the crocodile tears of those who dug our graves. However, there is a Yoruba proverb which applies here. It says, “Ki a le akata lo na, ki a to f’abo si odo adie”; meaning, “chase away the fox first, then attend to the wayward chicken”.
Of all the Ministries in the Federal Government, one, above all others, is headed by a Minister who has virtually declared war on Yoruba people in every area of her Ministry. That is the Minister for Aviation. The reason for singling her out of the several MDAs in the Federal Government is again simple. It is strategic to focus our energies on the worst offender, fight her to a standstill as an example to others that Yoruba people will not be pushed around by any transient holder of power. And she will not be the last holder of the Ministry. She will go, sooner or later. But, the war will continue.
As an aside, let me point out to the Minister that the Yoruba can defend themselves in this war. She might be the Minister of Aviation or anything; she might even be waging an ethnic war – for reasons known to herself. But, one thing she must know is this. The Southwest is host to every other ethnic group in Nigeria – far more than any other zone. Even the airports and other Aviation Ministry agencies are surrounded by Yoruba territory. We hold the nation’s assets.
The first question anyone will ask is: why pick on her? The answer is simple, there is increasing evidence that she is being deliberately antagonistic to us – that includes me. The Yoruba Unity Forum in a recent publication, set out the number of Yoruba people who had been sacked from the Ministry and its agencies – almost invariably to be replaced by other ethnic groups. One or two might be justified by claiming incompetence, old age, diminishing productivity, corruption, etc. But, when only people from one ethnic group suffer such dismissals, it becomes highly suspicious.
That, however, is small potatoes compared to the main issue; the one that has left no doubt in my mind that, ethnic cleansing and persecution of Yoruba is a deliberate policy, is in connection with the problems of Dr Wale Babalakin, SAN, who I never met. This issue, in my view, should demonstrate the resolve of all Yoruba people to fight a battle declared against one of us by someone else for fairly clear motives.
And, it is a struggle that must be non-partisan. This is no PDP versus ACN affair. It is Yoruba versus the Minister of Aviation. Incidentally, the Minister of Aviation, I now believe has an ally in the Asset Management Corporation, AMCON, Mr Mustapha Chike Obi. Together, they want to reduce Babalakin to zero. Let me present the case as documented.
My Monday, February 18, 2013, column, in this paper, was titled WHO WANTS WALE BABALAKIN DEAD?, because at the time, I had no clue regarding who could be behind the plot to persecute Babalakin. Now, all the facts at my disposal point to the Minister of Aviation, who has gathered other co-conspirators, from her ethnic enclave, to help her execute the project. They will fail. Other Yoruba people will join Babalakin to ensure they don’t succeed. In fact, the battle will be taken to the door step of the Ministry of Aviation itself – if Madam does not stop fomenting trouble for herself.
Bi-Courteny Aviation Services Limited, whose Chairman is Dr Wale Babalakin SAN, as most air travelers know, was persuaded by the Obasanjo administration to build Murtala Muhammed Airport Two, MM 2; which it did. As part of the agreement, all domestic flights were to originate and land at MM2, once completed and operational. The old domestic, called General Aviation Terminal, GAT, was to be closed down; and become an integral part of MM2.
As usual, with our lawless governments, the Federal Government refused to close down GAT and encouraged some airlines, especially one owned by people from one of the two eastern zones, to operate from there. As far as I am concerned, the airlines operating from GAT are not at fault. Government carries the blame.
In order to enforce the agreement, Bi-Courtney dragged the Federal Government to court for enforcement of the contract and for damages. Bi-Courtney won the case and huge damages were awarded in its favour…