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Yoruba nation: A house divided against itself…

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There is “two fighting”, as we used to say in those kindergarten days, between two prominent Yoruba Nation agitators — Sunday Adeyemo (also known as Sunday Igboho) and the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) leader, Gani Adams and Are-Ona-Kakanfo. Igboho alleged that Adams defamed him, damaged his reputation and assassinated his character in a leaked video that went viral. It makes no sense to repeat the contents of the video here.

Igboho is pained and, like Shylock in William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, he wants a pound of flesh from Adams, first, to redeem his allegedly viciously damaged character and, secondly, to teach Adams an object lesson. Therefore, Igboho has approached the courts and is demanding damages in the region of N500 million from Adams.

Efforts made by Adams and other concerned Yoruba leaders to placate Igboho has been in vain. Explanations by Adams that he meant no harm has fallen on Igboho’s deaf ears. When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. Therefore, supporters of the Yoruba Nation project at home and abroad are miffed that two foremost generals of their cherished cause are bent on washing their dirty linen in public. Rather than let wise counsel prevail, they seemingly have chosen to dance naked in public.

 If I were Adams, I would have been circumspect enough not to voice what he was alleged to have said about Igboho. And if I were Igboho, I would be mindful to control the damage already done in the interest of the cause that I hold dear, and for which I have already suffered irreparable losses in the hands of the Nigerian state.

The altercations and vituperation between two Afenifere groups, led respectively by Pa Reuben Fasoranti and Pa Ayo Adebanjo, appeared to have receded in recent times from the bad tempers that was witnessed in the period preceding, during and immediately after the last election. While it lasted, the disagreement was ferocious; it was also humbling. Two generals who share in the glory of the Obafemi Awolowo years, still seen, till tomorrow, as the golden age of the Yoruba people, tugged relentlessly at each other as supporters urged them on.

Truth be told, it was a war of proxy of sorts, which some of the supporters instigated as well as cashed in upon to feather their own nests. Now, I imagine if I were the son of nonagenarian or octogenarian parents, whether I would allow that they be denied their well-deserved retirement and rest and be tossed up and down, dragged here and there by people cashing-in on their goodwill for self aggrandizement.

Elders must learn to hand over the baton to the younger generations, not only in politics but also in business as well as in ministry. Recommended textbook: Pastor Wale Adefarasin’s The Succession Crisis in Nigeria. This book is available online. It is not only African heads of state that are guilty of the sit-tight syndrome; there are so many other closet president-for-life personalities in many aspects of our national life.

 One of the qualities of good leadership is to know when to quit, not to stay beyond one’s welcome or usefulness. Quit the stage when the ovation is loudest! Hand over the baton to a worthy successor who will further build upon the foundation already laid. It is a relay kind of race, not a sprint. To the supporters or followers: Allow our living ancestors to take a bow! Leave them to retire and enjoy a well-deserved rest!

When Mrs. Modupe Abiola-Onitiri made her declaration of the sovereign state of Yoruba land, she was both grandstanding as well as making history. If a census is taken, I will not be surprised if there are elements of the Yoruba self-determination struggle that support her move: audacious to some, reckless to others. But such is the history of struggle the world over! When Isaac Adaka Boro decided to take up arms and fight for his Ijaw or South-south people, he was a fool to many; today, however, he is the hero of his people with monuments erected in his honour in many places.

The first persons to disown Onitiri were her erstwhile comrades in the agitation for a Yoruba Nation. What points were they trying to make? There are occasions when silence is golden! I am not a fan of Onitiri’s style of agitation. I do not think her modus operandi will achieve the desired result but I will not jump at the slightest opportunity to castigate her publicly. If you disagree with her style, go on with your own style and leave her with her’s. Demolishing the house where she made her declaration is infantile and begs the issue. What has the house got to do with it?

Many of those parading as leaders of the Yoruba Nation struggle are mere agitators with no sound knowledge of struggle. They are lumpen elements led by pseudo-radicals with no sound knowledge of the theory and praxis of struggle. The blind leading the blind. I believe, though, that one day, the Yoruba will have their Yoruba Nation, just like every other nationalities desirous of taking their destiny in their own hands will do — because it is the right thing to do; because it is the surest way to Nigeria’s greatness and development; and because it is the ONLY solution to the problems bedeviling the country. Point at one developed country where ethnic groups dominate ethnic groups. Nationalities are respected and allowed to control their own internal affairs and develop at their own pace. Whether we like it or not, that is where Nigeria must head.

Those castigating Onitiri for declaring Yoruba Nation came out a few days later to write a letter to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu demanding a referendum that would take the Yoruba people out of Nigeria! Tell me, where do they differ from the woman? Their point of divergence is “how” to achieve the same goal. But history teaches that no particular “how” suits the defenders of the status quo. So, if you think that because you stand on the rooftop to announce that your approach is non-violent, the authorities will be kinder to you than those who advocate armed struggle, you delude yourself!

And let no one think that those who are run underground today, dubbed as terrorists, will always remain so. Mandela was a “terrorist” before he became the first black president of South Africa. Fidel Castro and his comrades languished in jail before the tide turned against Fulgencio Batista. Mao Tse-tung and Lenin were “terrorists” who became leaders of their respective countries when their revolution succeeded.

My advice to Yoruba leaders is this: Stop castigating one another. They want to quit Nigeria; leave them to agitate for what they believe in. They want restructuring; let them go ahead and agitate for restructuring. Leave those who want to quit to quit. Those that want restructuring should focus on restructuring. Many roads, not one, lead to the market. The message is the same; only the rendition differs. So, why get in each other’s throat?

The Yoruba have sterling qualities in many areas of human endeavour but, placed side-by-side Nigeria’s other nationalities, they are not known as good political strategists. This is also showing in the way the leaders are prosecuting the Yoruba Nation struggle. They are quick to throw one another under the bus. How can a house divided against itself stand?

Feedback

Bola, I had exactly the same thoughts as you while driving through the Ibadan/Ife/Ondo road last week; an extremely shameful experience. Also shocking are the areas you mentioned on the just-concluded Lagos-Ibadan express road. Regrettably, this is what is going on all over the country. Is there any hope, one would ask! — Akin Akinsola

Civil servants both at federal and state levels are the real corrupt elements in Nigeria. Each and every one of them have his/her registered companies in the drawers of their table. In the Ministry of Works which David Umahi heads, the president of the civil servants’ union told him that he (Umahi) cannot tell them what to do! Rather, they are the ones that will tell the Minister what to do! “We  will be here, and you will come and go”, the guy told the minister in the open in a video that went viral! As for Bobrisky, somebody said the South-west conspired to save themselves from embarrassment and decided to put him out of circulation, for him to get back his senses. They did it in such a way as not to attract foreign-power interests. By his own name, Bobrisky knew he was playing a game that would eventually put him in trouble. — Mazi Coleman Obazi

Phillip Shaibu deserves the treatment meted out to him by Godwin Obaseki. Shaibu bit the fingers that fed him right from obscurity up to prominence in Edo State politics. He openly disgraced Adams Oshiomhole, thinking he would be compensated for his disgraceful act. Phillip was not the first deputy governor to be impeached, neither will he be the last. — Mohamed Adeola Bello

Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of the Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Bolawole writes the On the Lord’s Day column in the Sunday Tribune and the Treasurers column in the New Telegraph newspapers. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television. He can be reached on turnpot@gmail.com +234 807 552 5533

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