Tension in Osun communities as five persons sustain gunshot wound over land dispute

By Dele Sobowale

“You reap what you sow.”

A foreigner just arriving in Nigeria, and learning about the six zones of our political system, must assume that Yorubaland is the second most favoured zone under the All Progressives Congress, APC. A casual glance at the list of occupants of elected and appointed officials would seem to back up that claim.

A Yoruba man is the Vice President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives is a Yoruba man, the Minister for Works and Housing is a Yoruba man, the Minister of Interior is a Yoruba man, and Minister of State for Health is a Yoruba man. The National Leader of the party is also reportedly from Lagos State. Finally, the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum is one of our own. With the exception of the North-West, which has grabbed the lion’s share of important appointments, no other zone comes close.

The South-East is so marginalised, the few top level appointees are even forced to defend an administration which actively cheats them. The Yoruba should feel comfortable with this government. Surprisingly, most of us are not. The obvious question is: why? The simple answer is: the people cannot point to any tangible benefit of having so many officials in the top posts. There is a need to elaborate.

The reasons, from random interviews with hundreds at all strata of Yoruba society, are as shocking as they are understandable. They also pose threats to the presidential ambitions of those now in the race. It is possible that in a free and fair election, none of them will receive 50 per cent of votes. In more than sixty years of watching Nigerian politics, I have never experienced so much resentment of Yoruba political leaders as now. The accusations can be summarised as follows:

SELFISHNESS

Mention any name; and a trope of maledictions follows from people who have not been fortunate to be close to them. The pervasive impression is that the top politicians are now in business for themselves and their families and close associates alone. They don’t give a damn about the masses of Yoruba people. Invariably, the older Yoruba people will refer to the Free Education policy started in the Western Region under Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the Action Group government. Awo is today next to God worshipped by my own generation. His government devoted such a large percentage of the annual budget to Education – in all its ramifications – and gave the Western Region (including Edo and Delta) a huge advantage which we still enjoy till today.

Yoruba people are the leaders in any legal profession in the country. The collateral advantage, for Nigeria, of Awo’s strategic vision, was the competition it induced in other regions to educate their own children.

By contrast, none of the Yoruba leaders in government today has demonstrated that sort of vision. None is leading advocacy for any initiative that could mobilise millions of people or solve problems for Yorubaland. Free education was not elitist. Awo did not know me or any of the millions of beneficiaries personally before conferring a benefit on us which has lasted us a life time. The closest to Awolowo’s legacy by any politician was the Low Cost Housing concept embarked upon by the late Alhaji Jakande – a former Governor of Lagos State. Not as tidy as free education in every way, but, even now Jakande’s low cost housing units can be seen everywhere.  Travel through all the six South-West states today and you can hardly point to any lasting legacy of Yoruba political leaders since 1979.

We spent years in the opposition at the Federal Level; and, understandably, our states were mostly deprived of the dividends of democracy; despite the fact that we led the struggle for Civil Rule. But, we are now in office. Where is the evidence of power sharing in Abuja?

The government which gained power in 2015 could not have succeeded without some well-known Yoruba leaders. Many supporters of the National Leader frequently remind us that he was the Kingmaker. We agree totally that he made it happen. But, look around the South-West today, almost seven years after that election, and ask yourself this question: Are the people of the South-West in general better off today than in 2015, when the VP, Speaker of the House, and top Ministers did not come from our zone? In other words, are Yoruba people benefiting from having so many people in top posts in the APC government? Do we owe them any sense of gratitude and for what?

“Morning shows the day”.

Buhari made it very clear, even before he mounted the saddle, that he was embarking on swindling the masses of Yorubaland who trooped out to vote for him. His first twenty appointments included only one person from Yorubaland – Femi Adesina. And all the appointments were made without consultations with Yoruba leaders who contributed to his victory at the polls. Nobody complained. One Abubakar followed a Mohammed into high office in 2015, no Tunde or Iyabo. Yet, no Yoruba political leader had the guts to protest. Nobody was man enough.

The only objections, oddly enough, came from the media. Several columnists in southern papers were the first cry foul. Southern politicians who were the victims of the political daylight robbery could not talk. Everybody was waiting for the next round of appointments in the hope that it would favour them. Individuals who were regarded as “pillars” of the party all became supplicants – like dogs waiting under the masters tables, wagging their tails, waiting for crumbs.

If Buhari held any consultations before selecting his Ministers, it was definitely not with Yoruba APC leaders. Granted, he appointed Ministers from the SW; but, that was based on a constitutional obligation. A few of those he liked were asked to nominate candidates; and they were appointed without consideration of merit. But, all the Ministers appointed from the SW owed their portfolios to no one else. The National Leader was serially by-passed when the appointments were made.

It was only when second-tier positions were to be filled that Lagos State got the Federal Inland Revenue Service. For a state which contributed the bulk of the finance, the media support and the largest southern votes in 2015, that was a kick in the teeth. Marginalisation was so boldly written that anybody with a modicum of commonsense should have seen where all the lack of courage would lead us. Still nobody complained.

HERDSMEN BECAME LANDLODRS IN YORUBA LAND

“Ancestral attachment? You can only have ancestral attachment when you are alive. If you are dead, how does the attachment matter? The National Economic Council that recommended ranching didn’t just legislate it; there were recommendations…What will the land be used for if those who own it are dead at the end of the day?”

In 2018, something absolutely terrible happened to the Yoruba people. As mentioned earlier, Femi Adesina was the first person to be “invited to come and eat”. Three years after, he made that statement about ancestral lands – obviously including his own family’s lands. It was all in a bid to get Yoruba people to surrender their lands to rampaging Fulani herdsmen. Mental self-slavery has never been so openly declared by any human being since I have learnt to read. Worse than Adesina accepting, with gratitude, the attempt to enslave Yoruba land owners was the total silence of the Yoruba APC leaders at the time. Some have woken up from their slumber.

But, those who hope to receive Buhari’s nod for the presidency are still not men enough to raise objections to the fact that every state in Yorubaland has been invaded by armed Fulani herdsmen and terrorists with tacit approval from above. Yoruba people were landlords in their own land until 2014/5 when Yoruba APC political leaders brought Buhari to us and assured us we were safe in his hands. Today, Fulani herdsmen are the masters in several areas – ably assisted by the Army and the Police under Fulani heads. Still none of those running about preparing to run for the presidency has spoken a word about our predicament.

The leadership in this regard has been provided by others. I don’t believe we have reached the break-up point in Nigeria. But, I totally agree with them that Yorubaland has been violently seized by Fulani herdsmen and our President is doing nothing about the situation. Worse still, our Yoruba leaders in APC are afraid to talk. All they want to do is to drive us like cattle on Election Day to go and vote for someone who has spent the last seven years ignoring our plight out of political expediency. This approach to leadership cannot work for us.

They better start talking; otherwise, they might discover that apart from the very few they have helped, most of us are not keen on voting for cowards…

To be continued…

LAST LINE: Yoruba people were led to believe True Federalism was part of the APC agenda. Now they are talking from the two sides of their mouths. We need a clear statement. Wait for Part 2.

Subscribe for latest Videos

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.