BY OLA AJAYI
IBADAN—REGIONALISM yesterday topped the demands of sons and daughters of Yoruba that converged at the House of Chiefs, Ibadan to brainstorm on demands of the zone in the proposed national conference.
Afenifere Renewal Group led by Mr. Wale Oshun organised the programme tagged “Yoruba Constitutional Conference” held to harness views of people in the zone in preparation for the national conference.
Oppose Jonathan on no-go-area
Opposing President Goodluck Jonathan’s stance that the unity of the country was a no-go-area, they said in a conference of that nature, there should be no restriction of any form.
Though, many of them were skeptical about the conference producing any result, but said people who represented the zone should not deviate from Yoruba agenda and if they did, the zone would be un inhabitable for them at the end of the conference.
Among those that attended the programme included Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, represented by Chiefs Adebowale Adefere and Segun Eluyera, Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Samuel Odulana represented by Chief Olufemi Olaifa, General Alani Akinrinade (rtd), Chief Olusegun Odegbami, former Super Eagles player, Chief Adeniyi Akintola, SAN, Ashipa Olubadan, Iyiola Oladokun, former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Mr. Mashud Erubami, Votas Assembly, Dr. Dipo Famakinwa, Mrs. Jumoke Anifowose, Oloyere of Oyere-Ife, Oba Adesiyan Mayowa and several others.
Speaking, Gen. Akinrinade said: “He should expunge the idea of no-go-area. I repeat my original position that the unity of Nigeria is negotiable. It is the reason we are meeting. The Yoruba had always wanted a Nigeria accommodating all the ethnic nationalities but we must create a nation where no one is oppressed. We are mindful that failure to do so will leave each nation with no option but to find happiness in its own separate way. We need not create avenue for unnecessary intransigence by declaring that we must stay together by fiat abinitio.”
Welcoming participants to the event, Chief Wale Oshun, Chairman of Afenifere Renewal Group, said: “Why then is President Jonathan refusing to come to terms with the fact that this dialogue should primarily be between ethnic nationalities? If the intention is to muddle up things, with the determination of the ethnic nationalities to seek justice for themselves, I ask you today to take note, and to challenge you to be ready to mark all Yoruba who might emerge as delegates to the conference, irrespective of which organisation they might emerge from.
“All potential Yoruba delegates should know and be fully aware that whichever platform threw them up, the consequences of betraying the Yoruba cause would be dire. We would not, because we disagree with many of the modalities, play into the hands of detractors by abandoning the Conference as being suggested in some quarters. In accepting the challenge, however, we affirm our resolve to regard any Yoruba nominee, irrespective of nominating platform, as Yoruba ethnic national, and those wishing to mainstream or sell their kith and kin should better not accept their nominations.
“We state categorically that key Yoruba restructuring demands are well-known, demands that had crystallised in a period covering almost two decades in the document now described as Yoruba Agenda which we have fully published in today’s programme. Yoruba delegates shall not allow a return to the status-quo of a unitary mode of government, and may not mind being pushed out of the union if a true Federation is impossible.”
Groups in attendance
All groups that attended the event such as Agbekoya Reformed Group, Afenifere youth, Egbe Omo Yoruba, North America, Oodua Peoples Congress, Covenant Group, Atayese, Oodua Nationalist Coalition, Oodua Foundation and many others threatened that any Yoruba representatives who failed to put Yoruba agenda on table for discussion would experience fire back at home.