Yoruba activist and promoter of self determination for Yoruba ethnic group, Mr Sunday Adeyemo, better known as Sunday Igboho declared last week Wednesday that Yoruba were no longer part of Nigeria and announced the birth of a new nation, Oodua Republic.
He cited grave injustice done to the South West region by the central government and wondered if Yoruba have now become slaves in Nigeria.
He dared Yoruba politicians to campaign publicly for any elective post under the present arrangement. The new leader of Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo had stated in an interview that the elders in the region were finding it difficult to restrain their youths from expressing their frustrations in the way they were being governed while restating his stand on restructuring of the country.
Other stakeholders in the Nigerian project from the South South and the South East regions however welcomed the birth of Oodua Republic with mixed reactions. While some described it as a joke carried too far, others argued that it should serve as a wakeup call for the political leaders at the centre to do the needful and restructure the country.
It’s sponsored smokescreen to negotiate 2023 Presidency -NDRA Darlington Nwauju, Spokesman, Niger Delta Rights Advocates said, “Igboho’s declaration crystallizes the greed of the Yoruba political elite who are creating a smokescreen situation in order to negotiate the 2023 Presidency. This was nearly same method applied pre-1999, although it came via different circumstances that drew national and international sympathy. For me, Igboho is serving the interest of some Yoruba elites who are simply engaging in a power game. How come this Igboho suddenly became a Yoruba champion after the End-SARS protests and has gained so much media prominence? Whose interest is he actually serving? The Yoruba are going nowhere. Igboho is a creation by the Yoruba elite to negotiate for power.”
Oodua Republic: Plot to bargain for 2023 presidency
In his own reaction, the National President of Ignoring National Council, INC, Chilos Godsent, described the declaration of Oodua Republic by Sunday Igboho, as a plot by the Yoruba to negotiate themselves into power. The INC president said that there was nothing to show the seriousness in the declaration as it was not possible to declare a nation without forming a government.
According to Godsent, “The position of Sunday Igboho in the declaration of Oodua Republic, from our own perspective, looking at the historic antecedents of the Yoruba, we see it as a political bargain for 2023 presidency. One, there are formalities for the declaration of a sovereign nation, but those formalities have not been followed.
You don’t declare a nation just by coming to the news media to announce it. He has declared a new nation but still using the currency of the old nation and living in that same nation, he is still obeying the laws of that nation. Why has he not constituted his own government. No president, no cabinet members. This is just a child’s play, these are some of the antics some of these self determination groups deploy to negotiate themselves into the mainstream politics.”
It’s time to renegotiate our union
Iniruo Wills, President, Ijaw Professionals Association (Homeland Chapter) said: “Nigeria as it is, is the creation and hand-down of a colonial force. It is in the urgent interest of all parts of this colonially contrived entity to start a process of negotiating freely amongst themselves on the basis of their continued coexistence or interrelations.
Nigeria is currently a failed project. It is time to renegotiate the country into a successful and prosperous nation. Sadly, only the leaders and political authorities of the South South and South East regions are sleeping on this looming reality, as they have failed till date to instigate internal consultations that can throw up a strategy for positively reinventing Nigeria. If you are sleeping, you can’t blame your neighbour for being awake.”
We should ignore all these anti-democratic forces
Joseph Ambakederemo, Convener, South South Reawakening Group, said: “We should ignore all these people whom I will refer to as self seekers. This has become a recurring decimal in our body polity because they rear their ugly head whenever we approach a critical election year.. We should remind these anti democratic forces for what they are.
Sunday Adeyemo is another scam just like Nnamdi Kanu and Asari Dokubo who are out to scam the gullible amongst us. We shouldn’t dignify them with any response. Sunday Igboho is not the one to speak for the Yoruba nation as we know it neither is the like of Kanu or Dokubo to speak for their respective ethnic races. We, in the South South region have passed through this path before and what did we achieve even when our own son in the person of Goodluck Jonathan became President? What did he do differently to benefit the region? We can recall that Goodluck said then that he would not be the one to balkanize Nigeria in the heat of the same agitation that has reared its ugly head again. Nigerians should not be hoodwinked by the actions of these alarmists.
The Ekiti State Governor while reacting to the quest for the creation of the so called Oduduwa Republic asked rhetorically if the Ekiti man would cohabit with the Egba man and same for others in the South East and other regions. If one may ask how much of accountability have these proponents of breakaway held their various governors to account. Our position in the South South Reawakening Group is for a peaceful coexistence and oneness. Respect for each other, love for one another. One indivisible Nigeria is what we must promote at all times.”
People are suffocating in different areas of national life
Eric Omare, immediate past President, (IYC) worldwide, in his reaction said: “I think what the declaration or whatever it is called translates into is that all is not well with Nigeria and Nigerians. People are suffocating in different areas of our national life from security to economy, social interactions etc, but the authorities have not provided the opportunity to express the frustrations; hence the declaration by different groups.
The frustration is not limited to the Yoruba people alone but all over Nigeria including northern part of the country. So my view is that it is a clarion call on the present Federal Government to take the appropriate steps to engage Nigerians with a view to addressing the issues that have given rise to the declarations. But I have serious doubts if this government would listen because they seem not to care about public opinion.”
Actualizing self determination must follow due process of laws
A constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Dr Akpor Mudiaga-Odje, said: “Indeed, our constitution provides for freedom of expression which includes the right to self determination and which also is in sync with resolutions of the United Nations. A declaration by Igboho in principle is acceptable within that context. However, taking steps to actualize that self determination and declaration must follow the due process of our laws.
To that extent, I condemn any violent move to enthrone such a declaration. What is expected of the regions seeking such, is to sensitize their people and constructively engage the Federal Government within the context of our Constitution to realize their aspirations. I am an unrepentant advocate and proponent of restructuring and/or regionalism. Niger Delta has been in the front burner of this justified agitation. So I am in support of the legal agitation for regionalism or ethnic self determination of the different peoples of the Nigerian State.
“The inequalities and inequities in Nigeria is too much and too much. We the microscopic minorities who produce the resources of this nation are being oppressed ceaselessly by the mammoth majority who produce nothing to our coffers. In that light, I strongly support the struggle for resource control and management, including regionalism and fiscal federalism within the four walls of our Constitution”.We can’t ignore Yoruba agenda of self determination
Also, a former Governorship aspirant in Delta State, Chief Sunny Onuesoke, said: “As for me, with the way the country is going, we are over due for a true and defined federalism. The simple truth is there’s a simple and calculated national conspiracy by a certain group and ethnic stock that has concluded an agenda dominating other ethnic groups in this country. As for the Yoruba, there’s nothing wrong to declare their republic as a nation.
The United Nations Charter of belonging together as a country is there for everyone to decide. You can’t ignore the Yoruba agenda of self determination. Like I keep saying and will like to stand for, what we need today without minding the slightest intention to be patronizing is 100% true form of federalism like the America standard. As for me, I will not subscribe to total breaking of the nation but I will support total true federalism without any intention attached”.
Whoever thinks Nigeria will disintegrate is dreaming
A former Presidential aspirant under the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Mumakai Unagha, said: “I have been following the developmental trend in the face of self determination proclamation by Sunday Igboho of Oduduwa republic and the statement credited to Alhaji Asari Dokubo for which his people denied him. There are more to the proclamation as it goes beyond that. The proclamation of the Independent state of Oduduwa cannot hold when the vast majority are not in support.
An individual cannot wake up from his slumber declaring a self sovereign state. It goes beyond that for any part to break away, there must be round table talk where it would be agreed that such part is desirous of going its way. Mr. Sunday Igboho’s proclamation is a mere registration of his presence in the national scene.
When Ojukwu wanted to break away, which led to the 1966 civil war, it received the blessing of the entire Igbo nation both at home and in the diaspora, I don’t know if the declaration by Igboho enjoyed the support of the entire Yoruba nation including traditional rulers. Igboho will be arrested and the same Yoruba will be sent to do the job.
The various components clamouring for independent state or republic should have a second thought. To me, I think what should preoccupy our mental thinking is restructuring which we are pushing for as the only solution. Anybody who thinks Nigeria will disintegrate is dreaming, we should synergise our efforts on restructuring. It is the same Yoruba leaders that will betray Igboho and in fact hand him over to the Nigeria government for prosecution.
If the country wants to break, there should be a round table agreement. As for me we need one another, unity is strength of the nation. No section can go it alone, we need one another with a caveat that there must be equity, justice and fairness”.
Igboho’s agitation for Oodua Republic a mere distraction
Critical stakeholders in Akwa Ibom State described Sunday Igboho’s declaration of Oodua Republic for the Yoruba nation as a mere distraction, saying that there were more important issues requiring attention of the country presently including the issue of insecurity.
Reacting to the development, a former member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Eseme Eyiboh said he would not want to give credence to what Igboho was doing because Yoruba have more matured, more experienced and reasonable people. Eyiboh pointed out that since Nnamdi Kanu said he was going to have Biafra Republic where has that struggle taken him to even after putting in place Biafra currency and Radio Biafra.
His words, “I don’t know what makes Igboho an activist. We should not allow things like that to distract us from issues of insecurity in parts of the country. We should not even give attention to issues like that because, there are a lot of things we should give attention to. What this country requires now is how to provide opportunity for everybody. This country requires available employment. We should not give the declaration attention because it does not deserve it”
Similarly, a public commentator and activist, Mr Mfon Peters expressed concern that Nigerian youths only embark on such struggle for monetary gains and attention and recalled that after Uwazurike and Asari Dokubo got attention they pulled out of their secession struggles. “I am tired of all these distractions in Nigeria. My position is that such struggles in Nigeria are pursued from a very selfish point of view. Igboho is only seeking attention and when government gives him that attention he will dump the struggle like others have done”, he stressed
Yoruba can’t create a problem and run away from its consequence -Zik Gbemre
Zik Gbemre, National Coordinator, Niger Delta Peace Coalition, said, “I don’t support disintegration of Nigeria, be it Oduduwa Republic recently declared for the Yoruba nation. Even if their declaration will not hold water because of the division amongst the Yoruba elites, disintegration is not the solution to address the many problems of Nigeria.
The major problem of Nigeria is Nigerians themselves, including those calling for secession. Until we change our distorted attitude and mindset, especially regarding public service, we will only be making the situation worse when we disintegrate because it will be the same set of people that will become leaders of any separated republic. It will be same politicians that will govern a seceded Yoruba Republic. Thus, leaving Nigeria solves nothing, it only compounds the problems because it will then be spread on a project of smaller areas.
This reality applies to other ethnic groups/regions of the country that may be nursing the idea of exiting Nigeria if Yoruba succeed, which I doubt they will. If their reason for wanting to leave Nigeria is because of the bad leadership of President Buhari APC-led Government, which is evident in the misrule of the last five years and the promotion of Fulani hegemony over the whole nation, then Yoruba must also answer the question of who made Buhari presidency possible?
Who elected Buhari President of Nigeria? Certainly not the Ibos, not the South-South, when we consider the votes from these regions in 2015 and 2019. It was Yoruba votes that contributed to bringing in this government upon us. As noted by a veteran journalist, if Nigeria is becoming a failed state because of Buhari, Yoruba have a hand in it. You cannot cause a problem and then run away from the consequences. That is what asking for Oduduwa Republic now means.
The bottom line is, a united Nigeria is far better than a disintegrated one. All the calls, past and present, for disintegration are provoked by bad leadership. All that is required is good governance, and the people should demand it. Good governance encapsulates everything; accountability, obedience to rule of law, social justice, to prudent use of the nation’s collective wealth for the good of all. Good governance will drastically reduce the evident poverty and lack in the land. And it will also reduce all the unnecessary agitations by the people that are trying to tear the nation apart.”
In his own reaction, Community leader and historian in Sapele, Dr Vincent Ekariko said, “Sunday Igboho, the Yoruba youth activist is an attention seeker and he does not know what he is saying. Secession is something that has become a song for sometime now but all of those who are calling for secession now, do they know the implication of it? The Yoruba should caution Igboho on the comments he is making,does he even know how Nigeria came to be? He should therefore be called to order”.
We need restructuring, not secession
Also reacting to Igboho’s declaration, Edo state based ethnic group; Benin Solidarity Movement (BSM said that though the position of Igboho was borne out of the realities of insecurity in Nigeria, it believes that restructuring and devolution of powers and not secession was the way to go. President and founder of the group; Elder Curtis Ugbo said Nigeria should go back to a regional arrangement on the basis of the six geo-political zones to reduce the over concentration of power at the centre just as he carpeted the kid gloves the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has adopted in tackling insecurity allegedly being perpetrated by killer herdsmen.
He said: “For me, that is not the way to go, what we need now is restructuring, regional government; let us reduce the power at the centre, let every region have their own power to manage their resources themselves and give little to the centre.
Though I will not blame Igboho for making such a declaration because with the insecurity situation and the presidency not doing anything about it, anybody could feel that way and may want to leave the system when few people are engaged in criminal activities across the country and nobody is doing anything about it. We have been coming all the way from 1960 when we had our independence and we have never had it bad like this.
What we really need as a people right now is regional government. Let every region take care of their needs with their resources, then a little percentage goes to centre not the way it is now where all the powers lie in the central government, it is wrong. For the regional government we are proposing, the states will exist but the geo-political zones would have their prime ministers that would liaise with the presidency on issues like defence, economy, foreign affairs and other critical areas while the National Assembly and the Senate would now be meeting at their regional levels to administer the regions. We desire a system that would decentralise the current structure we have that is over centralised. That means we will have six prime ministers meeting with the presidency on behalf of the zones.”
In the South East, while some Igbo stakeholders supported the declaration, others differed on the approach, while yet others preferred restructuring and regional autonomy to outright secession.
We need to discuss peaceful dissolution of the country
Reacting to the development, the traditional ruler of Abriba Ancient kingdom in Abia State, HRM Eze Kalu Kalu Ogbu ( Enachioken Abriba), backed the declaration, saying he himself was “a strong believer in self determination”. The monarch said that Nigeria as a country, had lost direction hence the rising agitations for self rule by various regions in the country.
His words: “We don’t have anything left as a country, so, let’s sit down and discuss the peaceful dissolution of the country. We need to sit at a round table and discuss this union whether or not to continue together as one entity. For now, there is no nation. However, it’s not the best for any region to just get up and walk away. That’s why we need to come together and renegotiate the basis of our union”.
Only implementation of Aburi Accord will bring peace to Nigeria
Another prominent Abia monarch, HRM, Eze Godson Ezekwesiri (Ochi1 of Isuochi), commended the Yoruba group for the bold step. He argued that self determination was an inalienable right of man which should not be suppressed.
The monarch said Nigeria’s leaders should stop pretending but listen to the genuine yearnings of the masses and for once address the root cause of instability in the country. According to him, the only solution to Nigeria’s myriad of woes is the implementation of Aburi Accord entered into by former Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon, and the late Biafra Warlord, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
His words: “Aburi Accord is the only thing that will bring peace to Nigeria. Yoruba have the right to declare their sovereignty. I wish them success. Let them go ahead! There was an agreement between us before the civil war but they sabotaged Biafra. But what they have done now is good. In fact, their action will make Biafran agitation stronger. Biafra is already gone, what remains is just the baptism. But I’m disappointed by the lack of unity among Igbo leaders. They should support the demand of our youths.
Regional autonomy preferable to fragmentation of the country
But former Speaker, ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa rather preferred restructuring or regional autonomy with weak centre to fragmentation of the country. Ohuabunwa however noted that the declaration and the growing clamour for self autonomy by other groups were indications that the people were disenchanted with the Government of the day.
According to him, “it shows people are disenchanted and have lost hope in Government. They feel they will be better secured if they stand on their own. It shows that people are disappointed and restructuring is the only answer. People are angry, and you can’t beat a child and ask him not to cry. But I advise that we don’t disintegrate. I rather support restructuring or devolution of power and not disintegration. This is an opportunity for Government to call the various self determination agitators together for a dialogue. If we come to a round table first, then from there anything can happen. First we need to agree to disagree, and not to disagree without agreeing first.”
No other option but to restructure
In the same vein, the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL shared Ohuabunwa’s view, arguing that a restructured Nigeria was preferable to fragmented Nigeria. COSEYL President, Goodluck Egwu Ibem, contended that Nigeria could still work if restructured. He said, “For now we are still talking of restructuring and not secession. We want Nigeria to be restructured and they have no option but to restructure this country for the good of all”.
National dialogue better than unilateral declaration for self determination
The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Abia State, Apostle Agomuo, also spoke in favour of national dialogue than unilateral declaration by various self determination groups. He advised various groups agitating for independence to carry the critical stakeholders in their region along to avoid hasty mistakes. “The necessary stakeholders should be involved. They should allow the leaders to come on board. It’s not what you achieve with gun but negotiations. There should be no bloodshed”, he said.