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Yoruba Nation: Afenifere slams Akintoye, Igboho

The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, on Monday, distanced itself from the agitation for the creation of a sovereign Yoruba Nation out of Nigeria, describing the call for the exit of Yoruba people from Nigeria as undesirable, self-serving, and unnecessary. Afenifere, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Jare Ajayi, emphasized that Nigeria’s problems were beyond its multi-ethnicity or diversity.

Afenifere’s position comes about two days after the Yoruba Self-Determination Movement, led by Prof Banji Akintoye and Chief Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho, wrote an open letter to President Bola Tinubu, seeking a peaceful breakaway of Yoruba people from Nigeria.

In the letter, dated April 17, 2024, the Yoruba Nation advocates cited insecurity, particularly the killing of Yoruba people by armed herdsmen from the North, as the reason Yoruba people should exit Nigeria. They argued that Yoruba people have not been well-fared in Nigeria, adding that their welfare would be guaranteed under a separate sovereign entity to be called the Yoruba Nation. They called on President Tinubu to, within the next two months, set up a negotiation team to fashion out the peaceful exit of Yoruba people from Nigeria.

The letter by Akintoye and Igboho came one week after some masked agitators armed with weapons invaded the Oyo State Government House in Ibadan and attempted to hoist their flag on the premises of the state House of Assembly. The agitators were subdued, and 29 of them were last week taken before a magistrates’ court in Ibadan, which ordered that they should be remanded in prison custody.

In his statement on Tuesday, Afenifere faulted both Akintoye and Igboho’s position on many grounds. The organization said, “First was on the reason adduced for the request to exit Nigeria, which was on the basis of perceived marginalization that Yorubas are suffering in Nigeria. There is no doubt that a lot of Yoruba people can be better than they are presently. But whatever deprivation Yoruba may be experiencing today in the Nigerian nation is not mainly due to the fact that they are Yoruba people. The deprivations they are suffering could be traced to the general misgovernance that corporate Nigeria has been subjected to over the years if not decades. Meaning that marginalization, deprivation, injustice, misgovernance, etc., that Yoruba may be experiencing today is, if truth be told, not peculiar to Yoruba alone. We are not, by this submission, claiming that Yoruba people are getting the best or should not be better served, far from it. What we are saying is that it would be unfair to use the excuse of the deprivations in the land as an alibi to want to leave Nigeria. What we should clamor for is good governance that will enable every segment of society to have a better lease of life.”

Afenifere also faulted the claim by Akintoye and Igboho that they were speaking for all Yoruba people, both at home and in the diaspora, wondering when they conducted a referendum to determine the number of Yoruba people who desire to leave Nigeria.

Regarding the submissions of Yoruba Nation agitators that they got a nod from the United Nations to go ahead with their intention to form a Yoruba Nation, Afenifere said, “The global body is not the one carving out nations; in the way, Europeans did at the Berlin Conference in the 19th century. Indeed, Article 46 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples minces no words in affirming its limitations as far as the declaration of sovereignty is concerned.”

The pan-Yoruba organization then called on the people to be wary of being misled by letters purported to confer sovereignty on any group, insisting that “forming a country is not something that some people somewhere dash out like a commodity.”

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