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The Yoruba Don’t Go for Crumbs

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Recent developments in the political space are contradicting some presumed norms among the Yoruba. This human specie, though rooted in diplomatic garb, has always refused to play the underlings. Proud of its historical and cultural background, the Yoruba, though suffered many reverses during the internecine wars of pre-colonial era, never abandoned their traditional dignity and self-assurance.

The current foray of some self-appointed Yoruba leaders especially from parts of Ogun and Ondo states would have been laughable were it not because of the seriousness of their misadventure. Most of the actors, like this writer, are octogenarians and therefore should know that in the twilight of our lives we should be remembered for what we do to enhance our race and nationality. To me and many in the South-west, it is unacceptable for a few aging people, many of whom are seeking to take their pound of flesh from perceived enemies within the Yoruba nation, to want to put all our people in a political compartment.

Refusing to accept the plurality of positions even within the Yoruba nation, this body of otherwise respectable and revered leaders is dragging the Yoruba people though the mud. Originally, they were ‘pure’ Awoists, undisputed advocates of the welfarist state and of course the heirs apparent of the old sage, Obafemi Awolowo. Even Awolowo’s worst enemies during and after his lifetime never attached the tag of opportunism to the philosopher-politician.

The explanatory notes above are necessary to debunk the present move by some Yoruba of Ondo and Ogun extraction who want us to believe that the ‘restructuring’ of the Nigerian nation state is possible under the present dispensation and can be achieved through the implementation of last year’s confab resolutions. If they don’t know, these revisionists should realize that no resolution of previous confab-1988/89 and 1994/95 have ever been implemented to the benefit of the reformists. We are not under any illusion that smart politicians and political activists are driving the current move to equate restructuring as the real change necessary to achieve a just and equitable society.

The Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, indeed a smart alec, has his own agenda. Being the chief of the present order in the South-west of Nigeria, he can profitably employ any subterfuge to sell his political wares. But even then, his crusading should carry a minimum requirement of openness and decency. For now, nobody can deny the effectiveness of Mimiko who has been described as the Peculiar Mess, apologies to Adegoke Adelabu of “Penkelemes” fame. Like Adelabu, Mimiko is smart, suave, persuasive, if only to be cynical, I can also describe him as being always on the stumps. The last confab was a great revelation of the disconnect within the Yoruba sub-ethnic groups. While for example Ekiti had six members in the confab, Ondo had nine while Ogun had 19. In some cases some attendants included husband and wife. This distortion reminds one of our bitter experience in the old Western region where some public servants were more equal than the others depending on whether you came from Ijebu Province, Egba/Egbado Province, Oyo Province or Ondo Province. The upper echelons of the public service was reserved for the Adebanjos, Onabanjos, and Lanihun Ajayis of the this world. This kind of situation should first of all be addressed rather than seeking an ephemeral restructuring of Nigeria. For history has consistently shown that the Yoruba, back at home, are not equal. To use the implementation of the confab resolutions as a cover for herding the Yoruba in a political camp is unreasonable, unacceptable, stupid and naive. Today, the Yoruba hold less than 5% of all sensitive political and management positions in the Federal Government as currently set up.

Sure, politicians and their privies have their rights to propagate and market their masters and collaborators but to pretend they are acting on behalf of the Yoruba nation is totally dishonest and unacceptable because we have passed this way before.

*Chief Fasuan (MON), a frontline social commentator, is a retired Permanent Secretary in the old Ondo State.

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