By Olusola Ajiboye
SHAKING OFF THE MANACLES
Until the Fulani Jihadists were defeated at the Jalumi wars of 1840, their objectives of “dipping the Quran in the sea” could have seen a large swath of the Yoruba Country subjugated to the Fullani Emirate Rule.
The assassination of Kakanfo Afonja by his Fulani allies and the fall of Ilorin in 1802 had precariously opened Oyo Empire to invasion with a belief that the Southern axis of the Empire would be a mincemeat for the horse-riding Jihadists. The battle of Osogbo in 1842 nevertheless proved the Invaders wrong. Yoruba leaders who were either complacent or naïve, driven by egoism and discord, saw the existential threat and rallied themselves to save the Yorubas from extinction.
Let no one be deceived that Oyo Empire collapsed solely on the premise of internal political malfeasance. That a succession of Alaafins who ruled from 1650 to 1750 failed to deliver leadership needed to keep the Empire strong was undisputable. That Aole (Arogangan) who succeeded Abiodun Adegoolu was an unmitigated disaster in quality administration was not in doubt.
But there were factors outside of these perspectives, that were often ignored. The penchant by Yoruba kings and War Lords to work against the preservation of Oyo Empire did more damage to her survival and by extension, provoked the current travails of the Yoruba Nation today.
At a time, the provincial kings ought to have mobilized men and arms behind Alaafin Oluewu against the Fulanis and save the Empire from dying, some of them betrayed Oluewu on the battlefield and gave up their suzerain to the enemy sword. What could have happened if Alaafin Oluewu was supported by his kinsmen against the Jihadists and Oyo Ile was saved?
Would the anarchy, destructions and a prolonged one hundred (100) year civil wars have occurred? Would the Yoruba Nation have suffered precariously from the perfidy of some of their Rulers? This is the price every race in disunity often pay.
The Yoruba Civil Wars ended in 1886, some one hundred and thirty-five (135) years ago, by the instrumentality of the British Colonial masters. But the tortuous-fratricidal wars reversed the gains of a strong political and economically viable ethnic nationality who had built READof reckoning in different parts of pre-colonial Yoruba country and beyond.
Had the Yorubas of South-Western Nigeria not transferred the fractured segmented relationships among her sub-ethnic groups into the post-colonial era, the Yorubas would have been in better situations today to challenge the injustices they are subjected to.
The pre-colonial divisions and schism among Yoruba Traditional Rulers and institutions would not have been carried into the 21st century, during which Yoruba leaders and Elites are divided along pecuniary lines of religion, politics and personal aggrandizement.
Agitations for self-determination and restructuring of the country would not have taken a yeo-man’s job to push. And a Race, renowned for unequalled contributions to the freedom and greatness of Nigeria would not be subject of intimidation and existential threats.
In the current miasma of political and ethnic interplay., how do Yorubas pilot their ethnic Agenda to a harbor of safety and fulfilment? There have been many developments which are nauseating and incongruous to the desire of the Yorubas for a stable, progressive and United Nigeria.
Among the three dominant ethnic Nationalities, the Yorubas have shown greater commitment to a stable democratically run Nigeria than any other. They are more tolerant and accommodating to the excesses of others within the polity. But they are committed to a Nation built on Justice and equality of Races. They are advocates of governments anchored on merit and capacity to deliver on mandate of peace and prosperity for Nigeria’s diverse huge population.
What brought the country to this cross road at a time she should be counting her gains, fifty-one (51) years after she had survived a devastating civil war? The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves. The writer is inclined to locate the fault in our elites, who place primordial ethno-religious interests above the collective, and in the process, holding back the hand of the clock.
Advocates of one Nigeria at different fora allude to how God was behind why Nigeria emerged the way she is. Even if this is plausible as a divine wish, I hasten to say that God is just and do not subscribe to any Nation run on parameters of injustice.
Are Yorubas desperate to get out of Nigeria? The answer is no. They are only interested in a Nation where democracy is institutionalized, rule of law is respected, equality and Justice are upheld, while access to utilize their God given resources for collective aspirations is guaranteed. It is naïve for any ethnic nationality to see the Yoruba Agenda as a declaration of war. The unique civil and intellectual exposition of Yoruba self-determination should draw a civilized response rather than divisive force, unbecoming of a democratically elected government.
The resurgence of agitation for the Yoruba Nation in Nigeria’s history this time in history has re connected the Yorubas to the freedom they have always cherished since the amalgamation treaty was enforced in 1914 .
Nation building is an integral element of Yoruba ancestral history. Finding themselves in an amalgamated union cannot remove the agenda of a country that will ensure security and fulfilment for their Race . This is what the current global agitation for Yoruba self determination is all about.
Olusola Ajiboye is a veteran journalist and media consultant
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