By Chief Duro Onabule, a Veteran Journalist.
I saw a video clip of a group of young Yoruba elites canvassing the creation of Oduduwa Republic. The spokesman claimed that they are not even interested in restructuring, that it is late in the day, but the outright creation of Oduduwa Republic.
Carrying placards, they insist they are fed up with Nigeria and that Nigeria has been a setback for the Yoruba’s because in 1949 when Yorubas had the television, even when France has not have one. Also, that Yorubas were ahead of Korea in the 1950’s, but today, we have been derailed by the Nigeria project.
These are their main arguments, which, as I will soon show, are no arguments at all.
I write to you leaders of Yorubas to warn you to be careful; be extremely careful so that you don’t make some fatal errors that will set Yorubas even further aback. Times have changed and we must address issues within the context of our time or we risk failing in this endeavour. Some days ago I had an epiphany of a secession of Yorubas and I am not surprised that some are making underground moves to actualise this end.
However, permit me to share some wisdom for our consideration. I think it will be a serious mistake at this time for Yorubas to contemplate a secession from Nigeria as the repercussions will be grave, if not incalculable. It was Albert Einstein who once said, “condemnation without investigation is the highest form of ignorance.” I believe we have done the due diligence and proper investigation before embarking on this course of action? I hope the youths promoting this venture know the implications and consequences of what their actions could bring and spring in their time?
It is the Yorubas who say that when a child stumbles he looks forward, but when an adult stumbles he looks backward to see the cause. Let us look backward and also forward to see why Yorubas have been stumbling in Nigeria and examine the cause; we will be surprised who we would see. The enemy is ourselves. The enemy of the Yorubas is the Yoruba and secession will not stop the stumbling because it would only take the theatre to a different space.
I must tell you that I am opposed to any form of secession or a unilateral secession of the Yoruba from Nigeria at this point in time. Soon you will know why. However if other stakeholders agree at a Conference Table that the Nigeria project is no longer workable and there should be mutual separation then that becomes a different thing.
Here are my reasons why I oppose any Oduduwa Republic at this time or any secession from Nigeria. I shall make this under three specific headings:
1. GENERAL ISSUES
A secession of Yoruba from Nigeria or the creation of an Oduduwa Republic at this time would be wrong for the following reasons:
1. The Yorubas made the largest required investment which made Nigeria possible. If you read the history of nationalism, of Nigerian nationalist struggles and agitations against colonial rule, you will know that the Yorubas made more contributions than any other tribe or group to make Nigeria possible. Although Chinua Achebe wrongly claimed that the Ibos alone fought for Nigeria’s independence in his ill- received, poorly- edited, divisive and tendentious book THERE WAS A COUNTRY, his claim can never stand under proper scrutiny or face authentic history.
The Macaulays, Paynes, Majas, Pearces etc and most of the names known to give trouble to the Europeans to force them into leaving were Yorubas. Thus it would be wrong to agitate for Nigerian Independence and then turn away from Nigeria. If it is not working, then make it work. This is the first argument against secession of the Yorubas from Nigeria.
2. The evils we complain about in Nigeria also exist in Yorubaland and amongst the Yorubas. The young Yoruba elites who want to take Yoruba out of Nigeria complain of many evils in the nation. True. But these evils too exist among us and Yorubas are not exempted from them. Remember Soka Hill discovered in Ibadan where human parts were being sold to rich clients for years – its in Yorubaland. Same has been found in several other places in the Southwest.
An Islamic slave labour camp was discovered recently in Ibadan, almost as bad as the ones in the North. Human “poultries ” have been found in Akute, Ogun State, and in Abeokuta etc where teenage girls are kept by super madams to be paired with young men to breed like rabbits and the offsprings sold to rich clients for money. How about cultism and cultic warfares in Ikorodu, Lagos, Ibadan and Abeokuta which are regular features of news items? Most of the evil in Nigeria exists among Yorubas. Thus leaving Nigeria solves nothing, in fact, it only compounds the problems because its now spread on a smaller area.
3. The question should be asked: Why should we leave Nigeria at this time? If we are leaving, why are we leaving?
Because of the bad leadership of Buhari and the APC. The major reason today causing this agitation was the misrule of the last five years under this government and the promotion of Fulani hegemony over the whole nation. So I ask, should Yorubas leave because of Buhari? Really? Okay. Questions: Who made Buihari presidency possible? Who elected Buhari as president of Nigeria? Not the Ibos. Not the South South. It was Yoruba votes that brought this disaster of a government upon us, this “one chance” of a government upon this nation. In 2015 it was so and this error of a government was reinforced again by the Yorubas in 2019 across Ekiti, Osun, Ondo and Lagos – where Buhari won.
The Igbos rejected him both in 2015 and 2019. So if Nigeria is becoming a failed state because of Buhari, Yorubas have a hand in it. You cannot cause a problem and then run away from the consequences. Asking for Oduduwa Republic now is like that. You cannot leave while the house is on fire: your founding fathers asked for Nigeria from the British and you voted Buhari and financed him into office for which you now regret. Be brave: you cannot leave without first solving the problem you helped birthed into Nigeria.
4. Most of the problems that plagues Nigeria today are caused by all of us including the Yorubas. Yoruba elites describe Nigeria as a failed state, a rogue state. In fact it is worse. It is a bandit state, a gargantuan occult republic run by syndicates and gangster collectives. Read Claude Ake, it is worse.Yes, that is true. But that is not the whole truth.
The Yorubas too contributed to making Nigeria into the failed state that it is today. It is time the Yorubas tell themselves the truth. We love to tell others the truth but we should once in a while tell each other. Sometimes we talk as if Yoruba is perfect, as if there are no evils on our hands. We accuse Tafawa Balewa of declaring a state of emergency in the West. True. But would he have done that if we have not given him the cause to do so? If they had not found a mole amongst the Yorubas?
– Who betrayed Awolowo at the Treason able Felony trial in 1963?
– Who were the prosecution witnesses and the judge that sentenced him “whose hands were tied “?
– Who betrayed Abiola to Abacha telling him all the movements of the man?
– Who traded-off June 12 to form political parties which was later dubbed Alliance for Destruction (apologies to Gani Fawehinmi)? – Who betrayed Diya to Abacha telling him what he did not say?
– Who defended the mathematical fraud of 12 2/3 = 13 in 1979 to foist that NPN gang, a consortium of robbers on Nigerians?
– Which of the Chief Justices gave the ruling that fair judgment must never be referred to?
– Which military head of state ensured, by all means, that NPN won and told Nigerians before the elections that “the best candidate need not win the election”?
– Who imposed Yar’Adua on the PDP as its candidate in 2007 and rigged him into office as President?
– Who drafted Jonathan, our Dr. “Clueless” from Otuoke, a man whose mindless looting regime preceeded this “one chance” government, under which we are now trapped?
Let every Yoruba son and daughter sincerely ask himself these questions and answer who those people are – whether they are Yorubas or not. If they are Yorubas, then Yoruba people also contributed heavily to Nigeria’s problems.
Do the promoters of Oduduwa Republic know all these? Are they aware that their own parents and kinsmen are part of those that compounded the problems of Nigeria and made it, in the words of one of the British racist colonist, “a nation where the worst never happens but the best is impossible.” Oh Britain, treacherous Britain, the blood of Nigeria be upon thee! All the problems we complain about in Nigeria Yoruba have their own share of them and even more than their own share in their formation, fruition, nurturing and development. Take cultism that has now become the
one giant monster searing the soul of Nigeria before the advent of kidnapping and ransom taking.
A Yoruba man brought cultism to the Nigerian Church. Yorubas brought cultism to the judiciary and the legal profession. And need I tell you that 7 young scholars started confraternity in our university, most of whom are of Yoruba extraction and parentage? That seed has now bludgeoned to cultism that is infesting every campus, teachers and students and our youths today. Let me stop here.
My point is Yorubas have a hand in Nigeria’s problems. If Nigeria is today a rogue state, a bandit state, we too helped in making it so; just like the Ibos, Hausa-Fulanis etc. I refuse to blame any tribe for what has happened to Nigeria.
We are all involved and we must all solve the problem together. Leaving the union is defeatism and a nation is not built on defeatism or frustration.
SPECIFIC STRATEGIC ISSUES
I now address some specific issues of strategy about the proposed Oduduwa Republic for consideration.
There are lots of fantasy, incoherent inconsistencies, phantasmagoria about a Yoruba nation. Some people have a hidden agenda which they don’t want to tell us. All they do is to couch their demands under the dubious revival of a glorious past in a supposed Yoruba Republic. We should be careful. We talk of the past as if the past is Eldorado.
It is not. We talk of Awo as if he was a perfect saint. He was not. He was a great man, perhaps one of the greatest from this land but he is not God. He never saw himself as God, either. I am old enough to know him and read his campaign speeches.
One of the men now promoting the Oduduwa Republic from the video footage made some interesting statements.
Funny and amusing. He said Yorubaland had television station before France. This is not a good argument, even if it were true. I ask you, is television station an achievement? Was television invented by a Yorubaman or woman?
How much of the history of television do we know? John Baird who invented it cried when he saw the havoc and the perversion of purpose that his invention was been used for as against its intended purpose. That is why it is amusing that in 2020 someone would be crediting a television station as an achievement. I do not see how having a television station in 1949, ahead of France, gives us any cause for bragging.
Congo had printing, as far back as the 18th century, before many European country, due largely to the Catholics who needed it. Of what use is any technology without the know-how to operate it? Can we say Obasanjo and the PDP was a success because GSM telephony occured under their watch or because MTN came during their tenure? I am also surprised that someone is celebrating the 50-storey cocoa house in Ibadan as an achievement. It is not an achievement. In fact, it is a bad investment and a huge developmental mistake. Highrise structures are built where there are constraints of landspace.We all know this. Ibadan or Southwest Nig did not have that problem now or in the 1950’s when that structure was built. But these are the list of firsts these Yorubas are touting that they want to recreate the Awo miracle.
This would be a fatal mistake, because none of their proposed leaders is an Awoist or even remotely in the mold of anything resembling the shadow of Awolowo or an Aluko for that matter. And times have changed! Again, I present the following for consideration.
1. I ask a very pointed question: Would the Yorubas live together, even if they succeed in separating?
A foolish question you would say. But not so foolish or insolent. The differences between the Yorubas are there and the cleavages are there. Because we are currently still within Nigeria, often time we don’t see these differences, but they are there. In the Oduduwa Republic those differences will come to the fore and become magnified.
How then do we address them? The Aladura Scholar, Prof J.D.Y Peel, noted during his research in Yoruba land in the 1960s, that the differences between the Yoruba sub-tribes, the Ekitis, Ijebus, Egbas, Oyo’s etc are as wide as those between the tribes of Nigeria. In other words, the Ekitis are as different from the Ijebus as the Hausas are to the Ibos. If you have not observed this, you are not very observant.
The white man was right.Because we are together in Nigeria we don’t see this, but now in the Oduduwa Republic they will cone magnified. How will the Yoruba Republic handle them, because they will not go away. Will the Ijebus accept the rulership of the Egbas? Will Oyos allow the Ijebus to lord it over them and continue with their exploitation given their bitter history? Will the Ijeshas forget their ancient animosity to the Oyos and what they suffered in their hands or revive them? Can the stubborn Ekitis allow the equally stubborn Ijeshas to Lord it over them? Because a wound is covered does not mean it has been healed. If the Oduduwa Republic becomes a reality you will all see the truth of what I am saying. All the major wars that have been fought in Yorubaland have been fought amongst the Yorubas themselves. Not against outsiders. Osun, the Yoruba god does not destroy strangers, it destroys her own children.
Soon you will see what I am saying.
2. We often speak of the Old Western Region as if it was perfect. There were injustices based on ethnicity but which we should not reopen for peace sake. All the projects done by the Action Group govt, how many of them were sited in the Ondo- Ekiti- Ijesha axis? Yet the cocoa plantations and wealth that made the West came substantially from there.
How many cocoa plantations exist in Ijebu- Egbas axis, yet all the projects were situated or concentrated there.
How just is that? Read Profem Ayandele’s breakdown and judge for yourselves. So if there were these imbalances even in those days of yore, how are we so sure that Oduduwa Republic will not be a miniature Nigeria, with more problems but with less resilience to handle them? The Itshekiris and Delta regions of Warri actually voted to leave the West and have their own region. If they were fairly treated, why did they chose to leave? The old Ondo and Ekiti equally agitated to have their own state from the West because they saw that they were being exploited by the Ijebus and Egbas in the West. Will all these agitations suddenly melt away once we have our Oduduwa Republic?
3. We have forgotten that exploitation is in the very nature of men, whether white or black. There is exploitation amongst Yoruba’s too. Someone is collecting 15% of the entire revenue of a state in the Southwest now. We all know this and nothing is done about it, yet we are complaining about Nigeria being a failed state. How are you sure Oduduwa Republic will not be a greater failure? In which other part of Nigeria does this happen? How many states in the southwest pay the minimum wage, even whilst most states in the North does? Who is the exploiter of the people, their own people, now? How many states in the North pay scandalous pensions to their former governors like is done in the southwest? Which state started this racket? These are the same people and their children and cronies that will rule the proposed Oduduwa Republic. Sadly it will not be the leading minds and top brains in Yorubaland but the dregs and the gang of usurpers that have profited from years of unrestrained looting of the public till.
4. Have you asked yourself where is the industrial base that we will use for take off? Virtually all the viable banks, industries and conglomerates in the Lagos- Ibadan-Abeokuta axis today are owned by other tribes in Nigeria, certainly not by the Yorubas. Have they thought of this? Rome did not collapse in one day, it was gradual. Yorubas are yet to see that they are in big mess, far bigger than they inherited or envisaged, not because of Nigeria, but because of themselves.
5.. In the Oduduwa Republic, which traditional ruler will be supreme? Will Alaafin accept the supremacy of Ooni or vice versa? Or will the disputes continue?
6. Ethnicity and Hegemony among the Yorubas is another serious issue. In the Republic how do we handle the ethnicity and hegemony of the Yorubas. Perhaps you may not know, I tell you today that there is deep, serious ethnicism amongst Yorubas. We all speak so loudly about Hausa-Fulani domination and oligarchy that we have forgotten that there is the Egba- Ijebu hegemony over Yoruba affairs. We used to hammer the Kaduna Mafia, but we forget the Ikenne Mafia. Consider this – during the 2014 National Conference, 6 slots were allocated to the Yoruba group, Afenifere. They promptly shared the slots among themselves. Not a single slot was given to anyone to represent the Yorubas in Kogi and Kwara. But when they want to negotiate for power, they remember they have their brethren in Kogi and in Kwara and that Yoruba land extends to Jebba and Lokoja. But when it comes to representation they forget them.
As the Americans say, “taxation without representation is tyranny “. These are the same men, the same schemes, who are now promoting Oduduwa Republic. Please think very well, my people in Kogi and Kwara states, so that you don’t change one slave master for another. What about ethnicism among Yorubas? It exists. Ijebu ethnicism, that sees everyone as strangers except themselves, even in the church! Some Yorubas have told me, “Can we also call you Yoruba, those of you from Kwara?”Not once or twice. As a lecturer from Yoruba, I know the frustrations and struggles given to me by fellow Yorubas. I have never heard of a Fulani man doubting the legitimacy of another Fulani because he’s from a different place. Neither does the Igbos or Hausa or Ijaws. Only among the ones who call themselves the children of Oduduwa. That is why I wait to see how that Republic will work even while these contradictions amongst the Yorubas remain as they are. I wait.
THE REALITY OF WAR
I now come to my last issue and conclusion. Here I am talking of reality.
What does this agitation sum to in real life?
Getting an Oduduwa Republic means war. If you don’t know, know it now. There cannot be an Oduduwa Republic unless there is secession of the Yoruba from Nigeria; and secession essentially means war, unless two conditions subsist, namely:
– Where the other stakeholders in a nation state agree to go their way, as happened in defunct USSR, or
– Where the secessionist group (in this case, the Yorubas) is the largest and the strongest within the existing union and can therefore bully the others.
The two scenarios above is not likely to happen, so the implications is war. I hope the promoters know this? So I ask – are the Yorubas of today prepared for a second civil war with Nigeria? Mind you, Yorubas will be fighting not just the Fulanis or Hausas, but the whole of Nigeria. Why? Because Lagos is too strategic to Nigeria, too important to it’s economy and its prosperity. Whoever controls Lagos will not be allowed to leave Nigeria except at the cost of war .
2. Are Yorubas prepared, at this time, to face all the regions at the same time? Do we have the wherewithal to prosecute a war? The Hausas will fight you because they have said and boasted long ago that Yorubas are the next tribe they want to deal with. I heard this in 2010, in Zaria, during my research. You will now play into their hands.
3. The Ibos will fight you because of the old poison sown into them (over the civil war) that the Yorubas betrayed them, which, although not true, but is nevertheless widely believed as true by most Igbo youths to this day – and this is what matters. Many Igbos will fight you because you foisted Buhari, whom they rejected and who has been, to be honest to the fact, an unmitigated disaster, upon them. The Ijaws will not support you for removing Jonathan from power… The Fulanis will fight you for opposing their Fulani Republic on the back of Nigerian wealth. The Middle belt may not fight, but they won’t support you for creating misery for them through Buhari..and so on. I don’t know how you will win this battle. I don’t see how you can win all these with things as they are. No, I am not a defeatist, I am just a realist.
4. Division among the Yorubas. Even when there is unity, success in battle is not assured, how much less when there is division? Are Yorubas united at this time? I doubt it. There are Yourba- Islamists who are even opposed to the Amotekun initiative and don’t see anything wrong with Buhari, a fellow Muslim. To them, everything Buhari does is okay, like our rubber-stamp Senate. Islamists among Yorubas will oppose and can even be the fifth columns in a war.
There are still politicians who are benefiting from Nigeria who have made investment towards 2023 and want to see their ambitions realised. And they have their cronies, tools, aides, who control the press, the traditional power of the southwest. These people will not be keen on any Oduduwa Republic. They can subvert it. So with all these how can you win a war with Nigeria?
5. People who have never seen a war are usually happy and excited about war, but war must be avoided at all costs. Unless it becomes inevitable. As a Christian, I am not a pacifist, I am a just-war theorist, in the mold of Augustine and Martin Luther. I will fight if it comes to that, but not for an Oduduwa Republic that is now being promoted in view of all I have raised here. No one is driving the Yoruba’s from Nigeria, so why leave? All the evils that’s been enumerated above, the Yorubas too, have a hand in them and if Oduduwa Republic is created today they will still manifest those problems. So why the hassle? You only know when a war begins, no one knows when it would end. Think of the Sudan Civil War. I warn the youths and elites promoting this venture to tread softly. It is better not to fight than to fight and win. War is evil. Only in cases when it is just- war as conceptualized by Cicero, Augustine etc. A just war is any war that’s fought to stop aggression or remove the cause of evil. My next article will be on this.
In view of all I have said here I think the time is not right for a secession. We should promote and canvass another special sovereign national conference where we can have a return to regionalism or even a confederate arrangement that’s mutually agreed. We did not have a civil war in 1993 yet we brought down the military without firing a shot.
That is power. We don’t need a revolution of fighting, that is what brought us here. What we need is a revolution of perception, to quote David Icke. Fighting changes nothing. You become what you fight. Gandhi brought down the British empire in India without firing a shot. That is what we need. The problem of Nigeria is that we have never really had a government worth its name. We have no leaders but mascaras, jesters and clowns. Most of what we blame on Nigeria are actually troubles caused by mis-leadership. But hatred should not be the reason to exit a nation. You cannot found a nation on hatred, frustration, mutual antagonism. That is why the Oduduwa Republic promoters should watch it.
Nations are built on ideals, on visions, on values, on ethos, on truths; not on hate, or mutual antagonism or misgivings.
That is what caused APC’s problem. They came together to float a party, not on any ideology but on their hatred of PDP and Jonathan. And now that Jonathan and PDP are no more in sight, they have nothing else to strive for but to deploy the same hatred to one other. They are totally bereft of what to do with Nigeria. Look at Ogun State, Edo State, Ondo etc., they are fighting each other.
Those who sow the wind must, of a necessity, reap the whirlwind.