A foremost Yoruba nationalist, Prof Banji Akintoye, says the Yoruba people are only agitating for freedom but never demanded the break up of Nigeria.
Akintoye, emeritus professor of history, stated this on Tuesday in Ibadan while speaking on AM120 – a television breakfast show of the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State,(BCOS).
He said Yoruba people believed in unity, saying no individual Yoruba person had the authority to say “we are pulling out, an average Yoruba person believes in build – build, not break, break.”
“It is also been recognised that the Yoruba have a strong and very clear tradition of religious tolerance in the world,” he stated.
The elder statesman expressed optimism that a proper federation could be achieved through a referendum.
He declared that the recent acceptance of the Yoruba-speaking tribes to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) would give a global voice to the age-long agitation for a better deal for Yoruba in the affairs of Nigeria.
According to Akintoye, the UNPO exists to give voice to the tribes submerged in larger countries, saying being accepted into the UNPO is a recognition that Yoruba people deserve a voice.
“With admission to UNPO, we now have an agency that can maximise our voice in what we desire,” he said.
Speaking on the present political structure in Nigeria, Akintoye opined that over-centralisation of governance had suppressed over 56 million people in Yoruba speaking tribes.
“We want to go back to that original plan in which each federating unit is free to manage its life without interference.”
On the launch of the Southwest Security network, – ‘Amotekun,’ – the elder statesman said the outfit would assist the conventional security outfits to tackle the nation’s insecurity.