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Nigeria needs less consideration of ethnicity, not more!

It seems particularly odd that at a time when Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Yoruba man, is President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, any group…

It seems particularly odd that at a time when Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Yoruba man, is President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, any group of Yoruba people would be pressing for a Yoruba nation as if somehow their tribe has been marginalised in the political arena. Despite this, the Nigerian Army (NA) recently arrested agitators clad in military camouflage who attacked the Oyo State Government Secretariat to somehow force the government to recognise their ill-conceived “Democratic Republic of the Yoruba”. There was a reported shootout and casualties were initially reported.

In trying to determine exactly who was responsible for the debacle, security agents have to deal with the Yoruba Nation Self-Determination (YSDM) organisation which has denied any involvement in the attack, and the Democratic Republic of the Yoruba, a group under Mrs Dupe Onitiri Abiola which claimed responsibility for the attack. Mrs Abiola is one of the widows of the late MKO Abiola and a former governorship candidate in Lagos State with negligible political standing and no constituency.

In a video circulated on social media, Mrs Abiola represented herself using the marketable Abiola name and declared independence for a sovereign Yoruba nation. Apparently, she fears few repercussions because she lives overseas among the ranks of Nigerians who refuse to remain at home to try to build the nation, but rather prefer to live abroad and disparage Nigeria from there. She has been accused of misleading and misguiding barely literate individuals who cannot properly understand the causes of their problems.

Unlike her Democratic Republic of the Yoruba, the YSDM is registered by the Unrepresented Nations and People’s Organisaton under Professor Akintoye. To give him credit, while the attack was in progress, Professor Akintoye went on radio to condemn the attackers, stating that his members were not terrorists or secessionists, but that their right for self-determination “shall not be undermined”.

Strange as it may sound to him and his members, their right to self-determination has been firmly established by the representative nature of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

History teaches us that there never was a “Yoruba nation” or any other “nation” in Nigeria before the country was amalgamated in 1914. Prior to that, there were empires based upon the suppression of certain tribes by other tribes. Many historians dispute this and say that African “tribes” were in fact broadly speaking nations. By this logic, the Yoruba are a nation comprising 22 tribes, among them the more well-known Ijebu, Ijesa, Oyo, Ekiti, Ife, Owo, Ilaje and Ondo dialects. The standard Yoruba spoken today is a blend of two closely related dialects from Lagos and Oyo. Yoruba folklore recognises Oduduwa as the founder and ancestor of the Yoruba race and states that Oduduwa was sent from heaven.

It is difficult to see the rationale behind ongoing agitations for a Yoruba nation. Nobody can, on their own, wake up and claim to be speaking on behalf of the 22 tribes. When, back in the days, Sunday Adeyemo, a youth leader better known as Sunday Igbhoho, declared that the Yoruba demanded a separate nation comprising the South West states which would put into effect their secession from the rest of the nation, the late Governor of Ondo State, Monday Akeredolu, made it clear that Ondo people desired to remain in Nigeria, and that as far as he was concerned, the advocates of Oduduwa Republic were simply politicians who had lost out on power under the Nigerian flag.

In an interview with Arise TV, a prominent Yoruba politician and former Military Governor of Ondo State, Chief Bode George, described the invasion of the Ondo State Government Secretariat as an act of treason which planning should have leaked to security agencies.

In truth, it is unacceptable for any group to arm themselves and try to force a system of government upon others.

Here, pertinent questions must be answered. How and where did they meet to discuss and agree to this agenda? Who and who was there?  Where did they get military uniforms? Were any serving military personnel involved? Were any traditional rulers involved?

Many Nigerians believe in restructuring even though it is ill-defined. While it is true that changes to the constitution are time-consuming and virtually impossible to achieve, and some politicians are demanding yet another national conference, this line of thought should be dismissed as very few will agree that the nation requires balkanisation.

When agitating for sovereign states, ethnic agitators never really have a detailed plan of how to progress other than to break away from Nigeria. What form of government will they have? Will they alter the local and state governments they will inherit? Will they alter the requirements for attaining political office? Indeed, will they copy the Nigerian constitution in terms of a bicameral legislature?

Successive Nigerian leaders of all ethnicities have governed unjustly, with minimal adherence to the provisions of the constitution, so why do ethnic champions think things will change? Unless they decide to ban Nigerian politicians from contesting elections in their new countries, the question remains: why create a nation led by the same people who misgoverned in the past? Inhabitants of the geographical area called Nigeria need less consideration of ethnicity, not more!


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