From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and the Ilana Omo Oodua, which is an umbrella body of Yoruba self-determination groups within and beyond the shores of Nigeria, are currently at loggerheads over whether the South West geo-political zone should remain a part of Nigeria or should become a sovereign nation.
The crack became evident on Monday and Tuesday, this week, as a result of the One Million March organised by the self-determination groups across Yoruba speaking states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti States, as well as Kwara and Kogi. It was fixed for Wednesday March 24, this year. But Akeredolu, who is the Chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum, warned the Yoruba that want self-determination to stay off the Sunshine state.
The rally, which was put together to drum support for the actualisation of the sovereignty of Yoruba Nation, was on Monday postponed until further notice towards giving room for more consultations with other Yoruba socio-cultural and self-determination groups within and beyond the shores of Nigeria.
Akeredolu explained that the people of his state have elected to stay in the Federal Republic of Nigeria as constituted at present, adding that no part of the entire state, known and delineated as Ondo State, would permit any gathering or agitation which may suggest, however remotely, that the people are in support of what he termed ‘unthinking rabble rousing.’ The state, he also said, would not subscribe to banditry and recklessness in putting forth its demands. He noted that the ‘reasons for the declaration of hostilities must not be fleeting fancies of disaffection engendered by perceived politics of exclusion for personal benefits.’
Akeredolu was of the opinion that the right of citizens to discuss, agitate and even fight to right perceived wrongs, culminating in self-determination, must be done within known and acceptable parameters and all concerned must agree to pursue the same objectives to achieve a desirable or desired end.
But responding to the position of Akeredolu on the postponed One Million March via a statement endorsed by the Homeland Secretary of the group, Basorun Kunle Adesokan, and one of its leaders, Otunba Folashade Olukoya, the Ilana Omo Oodua, under the leadership of a renowned Professor of History, Banji Akintoye, said Akeredolu is entitled to his opinion, and that the governor only spoke for himself, and not the good people of Ondo State.
“We wish to say very clearly that Akeredolu is entitled to his opinion. He has only spoken for himself. If he is sure he speaks for the classical masses of Ondo State, he should ensure that his army of state-induced terrorists allow us to stage our one million march peacefully in Akure, Ondo State capital, to prove whether he spoke for Ondo State people or for himself.
“Akeredolu feeds 100 per cent on the commonwealth of Ondo State people. He is a member of the tiny neo-liberal and neo-classical elites who will never support the wishes and aspiration of the masses. We saw how he grandstands on the terrorists and murderous herdsmen illegally occupying the forest reserves in his state and we saw how he chickened out to the chagrin of all of us who staked our reputation to defend him.
“Akeredolu has now surrendered the farm lands in Ondo State to the government of Fulani herdsmen, while masquerading to be participating in National Livestock Programme. He is a definition of a coward, who starts a battle he cannot finish. We are aware he traded Ondo people off to avoid being sacked from office through the Fulani-dominated Nigerian courts.
“We are saying for the sake of clarity that what we declared is the sovereignty of Yoruba Nation from Nigeria, and not a secession from Nigeria. We want an autonomous Yoruba Nation. We want to determine how we want to govern our people. We want to control and manage our resources. We want to police and secure the lives and property of our people.
“We have made our position known. Our agitation for autonomous Yoruba Nation is legally grounded, intellectually rooted and it shall be executed without shedding of blood. Akeredolu cannot sit inside the comfort of his office and claimed to be speaking for the people of Ondo State that he has failed to regularly pay their monthly salary, pension and gratuities.”