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Thoughts on the National Conference – 2

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“Most schemes of political improvement are laughable things”, Dr Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 192).

Last week’s column
ended with the following declaration. “I strongly believe that breaking up Nigeria will result in disasters greater than whatever we are experiencing now. Let me start with my own people – the Yoruba”. Now, read on.

Femi Fani-Kayode and Tunde Fagbenle, without saying it, implicitly, believe that the Southwest will be better off on its own. To be candid; they have reasons for the optimism. The “Oduduwa Nation” (for lack of a better name), will be an oil producing nation – Ondo, Lagos and Ogun have oil. It has on the average the best collection of educated manpower and its educational institutions from primary to tertiary are the best nationwide. So, on the face of it, nothing stops it from becoming another Croatia or Pakistan. Nothing, that is, except guarantee of perpetual peace.

Unfortunately, few of the nations they cite as examples broke up without bloodshed; and some of it is still going on. Between India and Pakistan lies Kashmir – over which they have been fighting for years and losing lives. In fact, out of the abiding mutual distrust, India and Pakistan have embarked on acquiring nuclear arms – which everybody knows are not as cheap as Chinese fire crackers. Georgia and Russia still go to war occasionally over boundary disputes. So, boundary disputes, which will be inevitable, if Nigeria breaks up, preclude any sort of peaceful settlement. So, those thinking this is going to be somewhat of a tea party should start reckoning with the possible bloodshed and loss of lives that might follow the decision to break up. Even boundary disputes between communities within the same state have led to thousands of deaths each year in Nigeria. Upscale those to disputes between nations and it is easy to understand why Somalia, by comparison, would be considered child’s play.

Furthermore, most of the breakaway nations cited started out with leaders that are generally accepted by the majority of the people. Fani-Kayode himself, no offense intended, believe me, represents one of the reasons Yoruba unity had become elusive since the 1960s. The combination of the NCNC and the Akintola group made it possible for the civilian Federal Government to create the Midwest Region out of the Western Region – the only one done by civilians. The political division which resulted from the days of the WILD WILD WEST remains till today. Our family house at Inalende Street, directly opposite, Lanlehin’s (an Awoist) was the scene of some of the most horrible things human beings can do to other human beings in the name of politics. To that we can now add the break up of the Awoist camp. Nothing demonstrates the fact of disunity in the Southwest better than the different submissions that were made to the Dr Okurounmu Committee in Lagos; one group is even boycotting the entire thing. Now, the political leaders in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, and Ekiti are on their own; the people they “lead” have answered the call.


Meanwhile, some of those who “represented” the Yoruba people before Okunroumu, as leaders, are to me jesters. I say this authoritatively because a few years ago, I was invited to join a Yoruba organization, AGBAJO YORUBA AGBAYE, which was envisioned to be non-political, non-religious and which would represent the interest of all Yoruba people. I was reluctant to join. But, when told that all the Governors of the Southwest were going to fund it and send members, I agreed to join. Eventually, I was appointed the Secretary General. I voluntarily resigned from VANGUARD to take up their assignment. All the governors who were parties to the original agreement, at the Oni’s Palace at Ife, except the Oyo State governor, redeemed their pledges; but only once instead of annual grants. One provided us with a building at Ikeja – which was worth more than money – if we used the premises for more than five years. Six governors, for reasons, best known to them, gave us nothing – Fashola, Ladoja, Akala, Oni, Fayemi and Mimiko.

One of my first self-imposed assignments was to go to the North and mobilize the Yoruba in the event violence erupted in Jos, which I had been informed was imminent. I tried to get the governors of Yoruba states to act in concert to save as many of our people as possible. When the violence did occur, I was in Jos, at my expense, and with the help of the JTF Commander to get homeless Yoruba to the Army Barracks and safety. Instead of collective action, two states sent vehicles to evacuate their own people. It was in my presence that a woman, who had lost her entire family of six, except the baby on her back, was turned down because she was not from the state which sent the buses. I wept for my people that day.

Thus, in less than one year, my worst fears had become reality. Our claim to Yoruba unity is as fallacious as saying the earth is flat. Everybody abandoned me at Ikeja. Our leaders, who now “lead” another group, which made submissions to Okurounmu, left me with an office and staff and the running expenses – which eventually cost me over N4 million. Appeals to governors, to come to our aid were not even acknowledged. Till today, AGBAJO has not been wound up – honourably.

Our landlord completed the execution. One day, while still struggling to maintain the office, he sent some one demanding for the keys to the premises — in 48 HOURS. There was a giant generator, air-conditioners in every office, computers everywhere, and internet connection. I had cleared the arrears of N30,000 PHCN bill left by a previous tenant. Over one million was spent to repaint the building; flowers were planted and a small orchard was soon developing in the backyard. I was determined to leave the place far better than I found – even if it was not my own. Yet, this illustrious son of Yorubaland gave me 48 HOURS to go.

So, if one might ask, as a Yoruba: “who will be our leader in the new nation?” A group without a leader is always a mob. Surely, nobody expects millions of Yoruba people and me to walk out of the Federation without a leader. For me the acid test of leadership is to develop a strong sense of obligations. From my desk at AGBAJO, I saw most of those parading themselves as Yoruba leaders from a different, and not respectable, perspective. Few are left who will call for me to follow. Without political leadership, generally approved, all we are heading for is not an Eldora do but, WILD WILD WEST II. Crude oil does not by itself transform to national wealth; we need political leadership and peace. Nobody had told me how we are going to achieve the break up without bloodshed in Yorubaland. So, count me out of any break up. It will create more problems than it will solve. I vote for anything we can do to fix the sickness of this country – Nigeria.


“Impress it on the mind of any man that he can do no wrong and he will soon convince you of your mistake.” Joel Barlow, 1754-1812.

The battle line had been drawn for us even before 2014/5. Those who have pocketed Lagos State for the exploitation by their families and close associates recently short-listed four people as candidates for Lagos State governor to succeed Fashola in 2015. The leaders (all Muslims), came up with four names – all Muslims, one is not even from Lagos State. The list was then reportedly sent to a traditional ruler – Muslim, of course, to select the candidate of his choice. The outcome was a Senator in the National Assembly – who had been drawing the highest remuneration package of any parliament in the world for doing virtually nothing. So, after years in the Senate collecting hundreds of millions doing nothing for us, he is to be rewarded with Lagos State Governorship — as compensation for “job well done”. Umph!! Progressive politics in Lagos had become more conservative than any in the country today. Close to 99.999999 per cent of us are merely serving the infinitesimal minority….. Just in case you don’t know, what our Muslim leaders are asking Christians to endure is as follows: Jakande, Muslim, (51 months), Otedola, Christian (14 months), Tinubu, Muslim (96 months), Fashola, Muslim (by 2015, 96 months) and they now want us to go to the polls in 2015 and vote for Senator, Muslim (96 months)..That to the leaders of the “Progressive” party in Lagos is fair.

So, there you are. More than ever, you now know why we must fight for a Christian governor in 2015. Enough is enough. Wait for more revelations…

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