BY BASHIR ADEFAKA
Ikenne – Eminent people across the six Yoruba states of the Southwest gathered for the “First Pan-Yoruba Conference”, which was held at the Efunyela Hall in the premises of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Ikenne, Ogun State yesterday, to take stock and chart the way forward.
The leaders, who were unanimous that disunity is the bane of the race, called on all Yoruba sons, daughters and elders, both in and outside governments, to sheath their swords and reunite for the race to move forward.
Declaring the conference open, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, and co-convener of the conference, said in his speech that, “My duty here today is to appeal to all our Yoruba people; both old and young, politicians and non-politicians to come together like children of the same family to examine the messy situation which we have found ourselves vis-à-vis the rest of the country.
“If we have to start apportioning blames, we would not be able to achieve anything and those coming behind us will never forgive us; but by doing what I have suggested, we will have greater confidence and ability to forge ahead once more as a leading race in this country and with our implicit faith in the power of Almighty God who is the ultimate decider or all human destinies, He will give us our rightful place in the country.”
Also speaking at the conference, which was coordinated by Senator Femi Okurohunmu, first Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, urged the conveners of the meeting to ensure its continuity.
Jakande who, like other speakers, spoke in Yoruba language, said: “The meeting of today should be continuous. There are a lot of issues going on which necessitate that this meeting should continue. There is no talk about Nigeria without Yoruba playing significant roles. Our own duty is to ensure that we don’t draw Yoruba backward and the best way to do it is to be united,” he said.
Governors of the Southwest, except Ondo State governor Olusegun Mimiko, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Ali Olaganju Olanusi were conspicuosly absent. Absence of the governors and former Alliance for Democracy, AD, governors were not taken lightly, but Alhaji Lateef Jakande, said they could be given excuse since the meeting would still be coming up again.
Present at the meeting were Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade; wife of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Mama H.I.D. Awolowo; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae; Afenifere Leader, Chief Reuben Fashoranti, former Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Oladipo Dipo, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and others.