By Dapo Akinrefon & Ola Ajayi, IBADAN
Barring any last-minute change of date, the Yoruba nation rally will spread to Lagos on Saturday, with Sunday Igboho and others in attendance.
The rally, organized by pro-Yoruba agitators under the auspices of the Professor Banji Akintoye led Ilana Omo Yoruba, has previously held in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, then Ibadan, Oyo State capital, Osogbo, Osun State capital, Akure, Ondo State capital, and Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State capital.
Lagos is the last of the six South-West states to host the self-determination rally. Sunday Vanguard was informed that the Lagos rally is the grand finale of the event designed to draw attention to the perceived marginalization of the South-West geopolitical zone in the polity and the need to restructure. But Yoruba Elders are warning against the rally being hijacked by hoodlums to wreak havoc.
They cited the case of the #ENDSARS protests of last year which left the former Federal Capital burning after hoodlums hijacked the peaceful demonstrations to call attention to police brutality in the country.
Organisers of the Lagos rally told Sunday Vanguard at the weekend that preparations were in top gear for the grand finale as various groups were being mobilised to participate.
Yoruba activist Sunday Adeyemo (Sunday Igboho) was present at the previous editions of the rally in the South-West state capitals and is expected to attend the July 3 rally in Lagos.
A source involved in the mobilization said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had been invited to address the Lagos rally but was not sure whether he will honour the invitation.
If Sanwo-Olu fails to turn up at the rally, he will just be acting like his counterparts in Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti who equally failed to identify with the agitators when they staged the rally in their states.
Meanwhile it was gathered that many Yoruba leaders and groups are working behind the scenes to garner support for the Lagos rally but they would rather not do it in the open.
Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that the agitators for the Yoruba nation are working on the premise that the initiative will lead to the restructuring of Nigeria.
When contacted, a member of the socio-political groups in the region said that though the group was not invited for the rally, it has been mobilising other groups in Lagos to participate in the rally.
The source, familiar with the workings of the rally, said: “We were not invited because no invitation was extended to us and we will not show up at the rally.”
The source, who spoke anonymously, said: “But we are collaborating with Sunday Igboho even if not on the surface.
“We have not received any formal invitation from the organisers. But I am sure the rally will hold because a lot of work has gone towards mobilising people and groups for the rally.
“The rally will go as planned except the governor stops it but I don’t think he is opposed to it.
“Even the APC machinery originally opposed to the rally has not been hostile anymore. Some members of the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, have also been part of the mobilization for the rally. So, as it is, the rally is in top gear.”
In a related development, while maintaining that peaceful rally is a fundamental right of the people, the Senior Elders Forum of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has cautioned Sunday Igboho and other agitators to ensure that the Lagos rally is not hijacked by hoodlums.
Speaking on behalf of the Forum, Dansaaki Adeleye Agbede, a former National Chairman of YCE, said Sunday Igboho should know that he is being closely monitored by security agents and he should not do anything that will give them an opportunity to have something to hold him.
Agbede, a retired military officer, said the Yoruba activist should take a cue from what happened during the #EndSARS protests which hoodlums hijacked.
“In as much as rally is part of the fundamental rights of the people, it shouldn’t be an avenue to disturb the peace of other people”, the Yoruba Elder said.
“It’s the fundamental right of every Nigerian to demonstrate because they have to be heard.
“But they have to be sure that hoodlums don’t infiltrate them; they have to be very careful.
“Under normal condition, the police have the duty to protect them; be with them to ensure there is no breakdown of law and order. The rally should not cause any mayhem within Lagos metropolis.”