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‘Yoruba stand on regionalism sacrosanct’

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Adeniyi Akintola

A legal luminary, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) has flayed the former Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai over what he described as a rude remark on the resolutions of Yoruba leaders summit on restructuring of the country that was held in Oyo State on Thursday.

At the summit, the Southwest leaders had demanded for a return of Nigeria to regional structure as practiced during the First Republic, which they said guaranteed self-autonomy for the federating units.

Present at the summit were eminent leaders from the South-South and Southeast geo-political zones and all some notable governors of the Southwest and their representatives.

However, Yakassai, an elder statesman in a publication after the summit had dismissed the gathering as a mere assembly of sympathizers of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere while he also claimed that the communiqué read at the august event “was prepared handy before the summit.”

Yakassai in his vituperation against the summit added that the Nigerian constitution guarantees every citizen the right to own opinion and express such opinion without let or hindrance as long as it is done within the confine of the laws of the country.

He alleged that those who attended the summit had no prior knowledge of the agenda or resolution adopted at the meeting before hand, saying, “in fact, even the communiqué read was drafted and brought to the meeting ready made. Nobody proposed setting up the communiqué committee or nominated any member of the communiqué committee. All were brought ready made to the meeting. It was a manipulated meeting to do the bidding of the clique that convened it.”

In dismissing the summit, Yakassai said as far as he is concerned “both the meeting and the adopted documents though lawful are illegitimate.”

Meanwhile, Chief Akintola, who moved the motion for the adoption of resolutions at the summit, faulted the claim of the former Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters.

In a statement yesterday, Akintola, who is also aspiring to contest for the 2019 governorship election in Oyo State, lampooned Yakassai. He said genuine leaders of Southern Nigeria were committed to restructuring of the country, which he further noted could not be undermined by anybody.

According to Akintola, “As Yoruba, I was brought up and trained to show respect to elders and listen to their words of wisdom. So I will refrain from trading insults with Yakassai.

“I was present at the Yoruba Summit last Thursday. In fact I moved the motion for the adoptions of our resolutions, declaration and communiqué. All the governors were present or represented. The presentations of Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, which were in writing and that of Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti were far more radical than what we finally arrived at.”

Akintola explained that the younger elements and the more radical Yoruba Liberation Movement (YLM) actually wanted outright Oduduwa Republic and called for collaboration between the Yoruba and their Niger Delta counterparts. But in line with the traditions of the Yoruba, we the moderates and the elders were able to rein in the militant youths to see the wisdom in the position of the elders, the professional groups, the clergy, the academia, the traditional institutions led by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi and the Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, who was represented by the Basorun of Oyo, the traditional Prime Minister.

Akintola added that the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Afenifere, the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) to which I belong, the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was represented by the Political Adviser to the President, Mr. Femi Ojudu and people of diverse political divides who ordinarily would not sit together were all present at he summit.

According to him, “Critical elements of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) such as Ojudu for Fayose and Femi Fani-Kayode for PDP together with thousands of party supporters from both sides of the divide buried our differences to discuss issue of common interest to the Yoruba of Western Nigeria.

“It may interest Yakasai that the Yoruba elements outside the borders of Western Nigeria such as those in Kwara, Kogi, Edo, and Delta states were present in and also made presentations.

“Legislators from all the Yoruba states and the National Assembly were also represented and made their presentations both in writings and orally were delivered. All these were put together, dissected and processed by our hard working rapporteurs headed by a respected professor from Harvard.

“Of course, the outsiders who still don’t understand the strength of unity of the Yoruba tried unsuccessfully to play the religious card to cause division a day before the summit. They posted on the Internet that the gathering was that of Christians but dismissed the insinuation when our attention was drawn to the publication.”

He said Chief Sofola (SAN), the leader of YCE is a Moslem, and he is the prime mover of the summit “Governors Aregbesola, Ajimobi and Amosu, strong supporters of restructuring are devout Muslims, Alhaji Wale Osun the leader of ARG another mover of the summit is a Muslim leader from Ogun State and so also is one of our resource persons at the summit, Alhaji Taofeeq Akinwale, a highly cerebral Muslim cleric and Senior Adviser to the Governor of Oyo on Muslim Pilgrimage.”

The legal practitioner also said antagonist of the summit further tried to play political card by saying that it was going to be the gathering of PDP but we proved them wrong with the fact that most members of ARG are APC loyalists as well as Osinbajo, who was represented.

According to him, “It is also factual that five of the six South West governors, who were either present or represented are APC members and some present lawmakers present. Most of the professionals, clerics, academics and students’ bodies present are apolitical. I had gone this far to show the likes of Yakasai that the train of restructuring is taking off in the Southwest with all the gatekeepers and critical stakeholders in Yorubaland on board.

“Anyone left out in Yoruba land will have himself/herself to blame. I know the Yakasais of this world are still wondering why and how such huge and unprecedented crowd could have gathered in Yoruba land for the purpose of taking a common stand by a supposedly divided ethnic nationality. Let me refer such cynically compatriots that in Yorubaland we have a concept which is called Omoluwabi.”

Akintola said the Omoluwabi ethos is so strong and very dear to the heart of every thoroughbred Yoruba man and woman “such that there is always a very thin line between honour and dishonour in Yoruba land.  You May not even see the line but if you crosses it, whether deliberately or unintentionally, you are a goner.”

He urged Yakassai if he is in doubt of the ethos “should as the likes of former Attorney General of the Federation, Dr Olu Onagoruwa and his Yoruba colleagues, who defied Yoruba resolution that urged them to quit the government of Gen. Sani Abacha, they reaped the fruits of perfidy and still reaping same even decades after the demise of Abacha and his regime. He who has ears let him hear. In Yoruba land we have a way of dealing with traitors and treacherous elements amongst us and the punishment is eternal extending to the children yet unborn including grand children and great grand children. Check it out.”

He concluded by saying that though the Yoruba stand for the unity of Nigeria and have worked assiduously for same for over a century, even when both the north and the east have at different occasion questioned the basis of the said unity, the position of the Yoruba must not be viewed from the stand point of cowardice but that of pragmatic and good reasoning laced with large doses of native intelligence. Let me pause here for now.



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