The agitation for the Yoruba nation gained prominence in the South-west geopolitical zone in mid-2021. The agitation which was championed by Chief Sunday Adeyemo popularly known as Sunday Igboho became intense in the dying days of the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari who was accused of nepotism and giving undue advantage to his Fulani tribesmen to the detriment of other nationalities.
The agitators even vowed that the 2023 general elections would not hold and that the agitation was not about a Yoruba president but to restructure the country.
The Federal Government was however determined to crush the agitation as the operatives of the Department of State Services on July 1 2021 invaded the Ibadan residence of Igboho where some of the occupants of the house lost their lives while Igboho himself narrowly escaped being killed.
Igboho later fled the country but was arrested at the neighbouring Benin Republic on his way to Germany. But with the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a Yoruba man as the president, the agitators for a separate country for Yoruba people appeared to have lost their voice.
Some argued that since their kinsman is now in control of affairs at the national level, the agitators have no other choice than to abandon the struggle.
Some Yoruba leaders and elders who spoke on the issue explained why the agitation may have died a natural death.
Yoruba will not work against President Tinubu — Oyewole, YCE scribe
In his reaction, Secretary of the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Chief Oladipo Oyewole said the agitation for the Yoruba Nation may have died down following the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as President of Nigeria. Oyewole, in his reaction, said: “The situation in Nigeria at independence was such that each region was to be encouraged to develop its potentials to the fullest such that there would be growth, stability, and all-round development. Fundamental arrangements were made for each region to develop at its own pace.
No sooner did we gain independence than the plan for regional development took another flight and unhealthy rivalry seeped in to tear us apart and ever since that time we started losing it. This is the foundation for the agitation of the Yoruba Nation for total liberation.
The Yoruba Nation was indeed poised to put an end to the obvious enslavement of Yoruba within Nigeria. At that time, the Yoruba people were seriously threatened and that situation encouraged every hamlet in Yoruba land to prepare for their internal independence.
Our people were being decimated and the main drive of our detractors was not just to establish a grazing route but to claim the soil of Nigeria up to the Atlantic Ocean. That had to be resisted. So, on Sunday Igboho and Professor Akintoye came forth.
Now, with the emergence of President Bola Tinubu as President of Nigeria, should Yoruba people work against him? The answer is no.”
Impunity, gross injustice of the last govt prompted the agitation — Kunle Olajide
In his contributions, the former Secretary General, the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Kunle Olajide said the agitation for the Oodua Nation was declared based on the high level of impunity and injustice of the last administration.
According to him, “The agitation from the beginning was because of gross injustice under the last administration, the injustice at that time was unbearable. We now have a president who is very just and administering the country fairly, promoting peace and unity through his actions and programmes.
Therefore, there might be no need for further agitation. There is strength in togetherness rather than fragmentation, what everybody requires is fairness and justice and once that is embedded in government programmes and policies, there will be less agitation for separatism.
We now have leadership we were looking for—Chief Akin Fasae, Afenifere chieftain
Chief Akin Fasae, Chieftain of the pan Yoruba nation organization, Afenifere, told Vanguard that “Even before the election of President Bola Tinubu, the agitation was dead on arrival, agitation of a separate Yoruba nation is not possible. Why do we want to have a separate nation, there is no way a Yoruba nation can give us the peace and development we are looking for.
What are we looking for, we are looking for leadership, now our own leadership has been given to us. They should cooperate with the President, they should go and tell the President how the Yoruba as an entity should be treated. They should go and tell him what they want.
And by the way who are those people even agitating for it, what is their pedigree, the only person they have there is Senator Akintoye, who is he leading? If we want to have a Yoruba nation, all our representatives, including the Governors and President have to be part of the agitation and is that possible? It is not possible. These people agitating for the Yoruba nation must have something they are not telling us”.
There’s consensus to give Tinubu a chance —Yemi Aboderin, Osun OPC Co-ordinator
Similarly, the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, Coordinator in Osun state, Yemi Aboderin disclosed that the agitation was not over yet and that the agitators were keenly watching developments in the country.
He said, “We have not stopped the agitation yet, we are only watching developments in the country especially, with regard to insecurity in the southwest.
The fact that Bola Tinubu became the President does not stop agitation for Oodua Republic but there is a consensus to give him time to know how well he will perform. If the situation that prompted the people to agitate resurfaces, we might have to go back to the street, demanding that autonomous region. But for now, we want to stay and see how well the new administration will perform, particularly on the welfare and security of the people.
Agitators merely reacting, not prosecuting serious agenda —Mr Ayo Fadaka
Mr Ayo Fadaka, former South-West Zonal Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, said, “No serious thinking person was involved in the Oodua Republic movement, irrespective of the fact that some intellectuals were active within those movements.
However I must state that the growth of separatist groups then was triggered by the nepotistic agenda of the out-gone Buhari government, the agitators were merely reacting and not prosecuting a serious agenda.
The expectation of many technocrats and the politically savvy people was to refashion our Constitution to accommodate a proper federalism, that will give due cognisance to the prevailing ethnic demarcations that constitute Nigeria.
A federalism that will discard the current state structure obtainable in Nigeria, but concentrate on the heterogeneity of our nation.
For instance, those regarded as Western Ibos or Ika should be merged with their kith and kin across the Niger while the Yoruba in Kwara and Kogi too should join other Yoruba in the South West, then we will all begin a process where every component unit of the nation will be able to grow according to their individual or unique ethos that will play a dominant role in its educational structure.
To think that Tinubu is now President is responsible for the demise of that agitation is to beg the issue, Nigeria must be reorganised and restructured and I believe this will re-establish the dreams of our founding fathers who held tenaciously to the concept of federalism.
Conflict of interest responsible for decline in agitation —Ambassador Yemi Farounmbi
According to Ambassador Yemi Farounmbi, ”Those agitating for Oodua Republic, apart from the likes of Professor Banji Akintoye, are relatively unknown people, either in business, politics, industrial sector or even religion.
It has been largely fuelled by those living outside Nigeria. It has been Yoruba in the diaspora that are at the forefront of the agitation. It was later that some freedom fighters against violent Fulani invaders joined the agitation.
Then there was division among the various groups because of conflict of interest. So, there has been a decline in image-making among the agitators for the Oodua Republic, the decline was not because the President is Yoruba, but the conflict of interest. The personalisation of the movement is largely responsible for the decline in the agitation.
The agitation may even gain momentum if there’s large-scale insecurity against the interest of Yoruba man.
The Yoruba man doesn’t engage in such agitation because of position or for the Presidency. What was more responsible for Oodua Republic agitation was the Fulani herdsmen menace and it appears that the then President and Presidency were taking sides with the herders while kidnappers came along with it. The Yoruba believed their lives and property were not safe and if such a situation repeats itself again, you are likely to have such agitation.
The Yoruba never agitate for the position, but when you begin to inconvenience them in their own territory, then they can go to any extent to ensure the safety of their lives and property. So, if under Tinubu’s presidency, the Yoruba are faced with such insecurity, they will agitate again.
We’re waiting for the promised Renewed Hope —Kole Omololu, Afenifere Chieftain
On his part, Abagun Kole Omololu, Afenifere Chieftain, said that “agitation for a Yoruba country is a legitimate right of the agitators under the human rights charter of both the United Nations and the African Union. Southern Sudan has just got her own separate country. Yoruba country has everything an Independent Nation has.
Yoruba land has homogeneity in everything God created, it has a population of 52m to England’s 56m as a separate country. It is bigger than most countries of Western Europe apart from Germany and France, it has an international airport and seaports with highly educated citizenry.
Yoruba is the 5th most researched language in the world. Citizens of this sort of enclave will want to have their destiny in their hands. Most importantly they are a very proud people who believe that they are part of world history.
The last Buhari-Fulani government seriously pushed citizens to the cliff edge. Criminals were holding citizens to ransom and the government of the day could not rescue them or seemed to be encouraging it.
With Tinubu as president, what Yoruba want is good government, who is in power is insignificant, whether he is Hausa, Igbo, Efik, Ijaw or Idoma. Tinubu was the best candidate presented for 2023 election.
Agitators are waiting for the promise of the Renewed Hope. The bulk of ordinary Yoruba citizens believe in the agitation excluding the elites who believe that Yoruba Nation is strategy of last result. Once there is a convergence of these two schools of thoughts, the agitation will be very strong.
I believe in the unity of Nigeria —Chief Bayo Idowu
Another prominent member of Ekiti Council of Elders, Chief Bayo Idowu said, “I don’t pray for Yoruba separation, I am not one of the proponents of Yoruba nation, but what I believe is the unity of Nigeria, I am a federalist, if Yoruba breaks away what do we want? What do we want to achieve? I have spoken with Prof Banji Akintoye, I saw him getting into cul-de-sac.
What do we want to achieve with Yoruba nation, is Nigeria sending us away? What is our limitation in Nigeria now that we want to break away. Let me tell you this, Professor Akintoye is not our leader, there was no where we sat him down to elect him as our leader.
Who are those people agitating for Yoruba nation now, is the agitation not going down? Are the agitators those who are politically, economically and politically disadvantaged, are we marginalized in Nigeria political distribution of offices? Those are questions we have to interrogate”
The ‘irunmoles’ have taken over physical agitation —Otunba Tayo Onayemi, Convener, YCL
On his part, the Convener Yoruba Commitment Leaders (YCL), Otunba Tayo Onayemi said the struggle for the actualization of Yoruba Nation is still on course and very much alive. He said, “It’s sheer wishful thinking and calamitous for anyone or group of people to harbor the idea of the death or waning strength/tempo of our agitation for a free Yoruba nation at this hour or in the nearest future.
The spirituality and cultural evolution/connotation of the agitation cannot be over emphasized as the spirit of Oduduwa has been awaken to consciousness and the ‘irunmoles’ have taken over from the physical primary front of the agitation. We are daily assured of the imperative and imminent birth of Yoruba nation even with the events happening in Nigeria now.
It’s there for everyone to see and feel. In all history, the separatist agitation, be it violent or peaceful like our own, has always had to go through metamorphosis of life before the reality and the reality in our own case, is in sight.
However, Yoruba nation has had its own teething problems like the attempt on the life of our leader, Chief Sunday Igboho, his subsequent and continued house arrest in Cotonou and the the Greek gift of the Nigerian President, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to Yoruba nation are all aimed at trapping us and clipping our wings.
But we know that we are proudly Yoruba, we think deeply and think reasonably before we act. The thoughts are ongoing,we are studying the situations delicately and we are due to come up with a bang soon.
We earnestly yearn for our own Nation where equity, justice, fairplay and abundant but equal opportunities will be available to the populace. That’s what Yoruba nation is to us and this dream shall come to pass gloriously for us soon in Yorubaland. Amen”.
Tinubu’s presidency won’t stop agitation — Dr Victor Taiwo, Initiator, YCE
The Initiator, Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Victor Taiwo also argued that the self determination struggle has never died down. “The agitation has never stopped, it has always been there, it is on as we have always maintained.
Even if this government carries out the restructuring and practices true federalism, it won’t stop the agitation for self-determination, it’s a different ball game. The self-determination remains sacrosanct forever.
So, we remain focused on the self-determination aspect of the projects with all convictions that this will be the last resort.