- …Ohanaeze, South South back Yoruba on restructuring; Tinubu, five S-West govs, NASS members absent
- …National Christian Elders Forum harps on restructuring; OPC factions clash at summit
By Ola Ajayi, Dapo Akinrefon & Dirisu Yakubu
ibadan—THE Yoruba nation, yesterday, insisted on a return to the federal system established by the founding fathers of Nigeria in the 1950s, where each section of the country was able to develop at its own pace.
This was the unanimous agreement reached at a gathering tagged: ‘Yoruba Summit’, held at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan, Oyo State.
This came as the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II and Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State called for unity among Yoruba speaking areas of Nigeria in the quest to get the country restructured.
Also, leaders from the South-East and South South, in solidarity, backed the agitation for restructuring by the Yoruba.
At another forum, the National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, called for restructuring and a return to the democratic ethos of the past to put the nation back on the path of cohesion and unity.
ROLL CALL AT THE SUMMIT
The summit attracted Yoruba leaders, governors, former governors, traditional rulers, parliamentarians, Yoruba socio-cultural groups, professional bodies, market leaders, youth groups and friends of the Yoruba nation.
Those in attendance included the governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose; Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi II; former governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko; former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae; Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo; former Director General of the Department of State Services, Chief Albert Horsfall; Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Sen Babafemi Ojudu; former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode; former deputy governor of Lagos State, Sen. Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele and former deputy governor of Ogun State, Senator Gbenga Kaka.
Others were the founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, Dr Frederick Fasehun; National Coordinator of OPC, Otunba Gani Adams; chairman of Yoruba Council of Elders, Chief Idowu Sofola; Sen Iyiola Omisore; Sen Mojisola Akinfenwa; Dr Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan; Col Tony Nyiam (retd); Chief Supo Shonibare; Mr Wale Oshun; Senator Ike Nwachukwu; Professor Tunde Adeniran; Orangun of Ila, Oba Wahab Oyedokun; Oba Lekan Balogun, Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland; Oba Latifu Adebimpe, Ashipa Balogun of Ibadanland; Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu, retired archbishop of Methodist Church Nigeria; Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi who was represented by Bashorun of Oyo, high Chief Yusuf Ayoola; Mr Babatunde Oduyoye, AD chieftain and Dr Yemi Farunmbi.
Former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and five of the six governors from the region were, however, absent.
Also absent were members of the National Assembly from the zone.
Restructuring will curb over concentration of power – Afe Babalola
In his opening remarks, chairman of the summit, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, said, restructuring would curb over concentration of power at the centre.
The legal icon said: “The agitation for secession is an ill wind that does no good. No matter the motive of the conveners of Berlin Conference, we have lived together for over 100 years having been married by fiat of the Europeans. It is better to dialogue and restructure the country. No woman wants a dissolution of a marriage if the parties live in comfort and are prosperous. It is incumbent on the leaders to make the country so prosperous that nobody would agitate for recession.’’
Yoruba insist on regionalism
Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN, moved the motion for the adoption of the communique, which was unanimously adopted by the gathering.
In the communique, the Yoruba Summit noted that Nigeria was dangerously edging towards the precipice but must take urgent steps to restructure the nation from a unitary constitution to a federal constitution as negotiated by the nation’s founding fathers in 1960.
The communique, read by Mr Yinka Odumakin stated among other things that: “Yoruba insists that Nigeria must return to a proper federation as obtained in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions. This has been our position since the 1950 Ibadan conference and developments in Nigeria over the last 50 years reinforce our conviction.’’
Odumakin said the position taken “shall form the basis of negotiations with our partners in the Nigerian project for a united Nigeria based on justice, peace and fair play.”
In his remarks, the Ooni of Ife stressed the need for Yoruba leaders and elders to be united, which he said would be beneficial to the younger generation.
The Ife monarch, who addressed the gathering in Yoruba, said: “My counsel is for all of us to be united. If we want to restructure, let us do it with one mind, I want us to consider the future of our youths. With good health, we can get our benefits. I want us to be united in all we are doing. I hope all we are doing is for the benefit of all and not for selfish reasons.”
It’s restructuring or Oduduwa Republic – Fayose, Fani-Kayode
Governor Fayose in his characteristic manner did not mince words as he told the gathering that the architects of Yoruba problems are its leaders.
He also warned that failure to adhere to agitation on restructuring may lead to the Yoruba calling for Oduduwa Republic.
Fayose, who spoke in Yoruba bluntly said: “You, our Yoruba leaders are the problems we have. You see our forefathers like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Samuel Akintola and others had done their best. It is now left for us to continue on the good legacy they left behind. If a leopard has dogs at its back like soldiers, it will fight and die like dogs. But, if it leads dogs, they would fight together and win. You our elders should fight like lions.’’
Also, former Aviation Minister, Mr Fani-Kayode said: “Today’s fight is a real one. They have turned us into slaves in this country. Let’s stop pretending. We, Yoruba, are very restrained, civilized, educated, very accommodating and liberal and sometimes, that is used against us. The situation whereby we are second class citizens is unacceptable to me and to the majority of Yoruba people.’’
Ohaneze’s with S-West on restructuring – Nwodo
The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, who led a high powered delegation from the South-East, that included former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Ike Nwachukwu, and former Minister of Information, Dr. Walter Ofonagoro, to the summit, said: “With all humility, I extend the greetings of Ndigbo to Yoruba people. I have come with a very large delegation to emphasise our solidarity with you on this occasion. What is happening today (yesterday) shows that democracy has begun to grow in Nigeria.
“Many people have tried to destroy restructuring and I am saying that it is a ploy by some Nigerians to monopolise the God-given mineral resources in Southern Nigeria. I think those who are doing this do not love Nigeria.”
We’re agitating for our rights — Horsfall
Chief Albert Horsfall who represented the South-South said: “We of the South-South have for several years run the economy of this country; we provided the engine room that runs Nigeria yet we are still expecting to have a privilege to run our own affairs. We do not want a federation based on unitary system. We are not mad; we are agitating for our rights.”
According to him, “what we are talking about here, we of the Niger Delta started it long ago. You recall the agitation for resource control. You can call me Mr. Resource Control.’’
OPC factions clash
Meanwhile, factions of the OPC where engaged in a bloody clash after the summit.
Trouble started brewing following the organizers’ initial failure to recognize the other faction after Gani Adams had spoken.
There was a slight disruption of the summit.
This forced the organizers to call the leader of the second faction identified as Dare Adesope, who spoke for some minutes.
But after the programme, as Adams who came with scores of aides was leaving the stadium, he found the gate locked delaying dignitaries including the Ooni of Ife and his convoy from moving out.
Also, the arrowhead of the factional group known as Sina Akinpelu’s car was reportedly vandalized.
Gun shots were heard from Dugbe end of the stadium.
NCEF harps on restructuring
The NCEF, yesterday, also called for restructuring and a return to democratic ethos of the past to put the nation back on the path of cohesion and unity. The group stated this while on a courtesy visit to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, national headquarters, Abuja.
In an address titled: “Need for Politics of Nationalism,” NCEF said time has come for Nigerians to live in peace with one another, noting that several decades after the attainment of political independence from colonial imperialists; the country is drifting away towards intolerance, ill-will and hatred.
Chairman of the forum and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Solomon Asemota lamented the sorry state of affairs in the country, stressing that the nation birthed on 1st October 1960 was a country in which though, tribe and tongue differed, the citizens stood in brotherhood.’’
2018: Adeyeye parts ways with Fayose, resigns govt appointment