Yoruba elders and leaders, including a leader of pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; former Deputy National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George; Prof. Banji Akintoye, Senator Femi Okunronmu, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, among others on Monday in Lagos reiterated their call for restructuring of the country, saying it was through that Nigeria could witness prevalence of equity, fairness and justice.
This was just as the gathering, which also consisted of former deputy governors, Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Erelu Olusola Obada; Senate Minority Leader, Senator Abiodun Olujimi; Dr Bode Olajumoke, Dr Remi Akintoye, Dr Saka Balogun, governorship candidate of PDP in Lagos and Oyo, Mr Jimi Agbaje and Engr. Seyi Makinde respectively, resolved and adopted former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential flagbearer as the candidate that would be supported by the Yoruba, come 2019.
Yoruba elder and leaders took these decisions at a 1-day South- West Colloquium with the theme: “2019: The South- West Speaks,” coming out with a 12-point communique, read by Prince Uthman Sodipe.
The communique, while noting that the Yoruba remains cohesive, indivisible and strengthened by a common cultural bond and ideological vision, reiterated that: “The Yoruba believe in the restructuring of Nigerian union in order for the prevalence of equity, fairness and the dominating anchor of justice.”
While justifying the call for restructuring, the communique said “the centre is too unwieldy, too disproportionate, effectively creating equity in the distribution of the collective wealth, urging that: “We must encourage every state in our federation to grow on the momentum of the available resources within their soil.”
ALSO READ: NEWS ANALYSIS: The restructuring agenda
Touching on what informed the adoption of Alhaji Abubakar as the Yoruba candidate for the 2019 presidential poll, the communique said: “The Yoruba people resolved to adopt the candidature of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for the presidency in the 2019 elections in view of his support for the restructuring of Nigeria to create equal opportunities, fairness and justice for all stakeholders.”
Speaking at the colloquium, an Afenifere chieftain, Chief Adebanjo, lamented that the Yoruba that was known to be the foremost race in Nigeria was now endangered to the extent that the country which it belonged to was equally endangered and, therefore, the need for Yoruba elders and leaders to join hands to rescue the situation.
According to Adebajo, who was represented by Prof. Akintoye, the Yoruba are endangered through a high degree of poverty, insecurity and hopelessness, saying all manner of insults and harassment were now being unleashed on the race like never before in the structure called Nigeria.
“We must come together to protect our people,” he charged the elders and leaders at the gathering, saying that the race was not known to submit to failure and was not common for Yoruba to agree to poverty.
“Yoruba don’t know how to submit to failure to anything. It is also not common for Yoruba to agree to poverty.
“We Yoruba are going through a high degree of poverty right now, we are going through a high degree of insecurity and we are also going through a high degree of hopelessness.
“I have confidence that Yoruba would rise and fight the battle and we will achieve success,” he said.
The elder statesman, who reiterated his support for the restructuring of the country, said the message everyone should take home was that the Yoruba wanted to live in a decent community and would not want to be gagged by any group within the Nigerian nation, declaring that Yoruba remained a great nation.
Former Deputy National chairman of PDP, Chief George, who also the Atona Oodua, while also lamenting the state of affair in the country, said the Yoruba insisted on a balanced, equitable expanse where every section of the Nigerian society would be free and unhindered in the cultivation of their natural resources.
While maintaining that restructuring was the way out for the country, George said he had travelled across the length and breadth of Nigeria and could see that every state was blessed abundantly with either agricultural or mineral resources.
According to him, “If we all get up and work hard the people in every state can survive without any largess from the central government.”
This was just as he knocked the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for distributing N10,000 each market women, querying: “What kind of absurdity!”
“It was indeed an obscene display of executive recklessness and abuse of office. Pray, where did the money come from? Was it budget for in the appropriation law? In more civilized nations, Osinbajo would have been impeached and prosecuted for gutting our collective treasury,” George said.
In her remark, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Olujimi said: “As 2019 approaches, we must come together, we must talk of restructuring, we must have unity of purpose, our leaders must represent our views. I believe we must demand the right of our people, we must change the narrative, we must allow ourselves to be led by leaders who believe in our cause.”
Speaking further, she tasked the elders and leaders to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Bill into law in order for every Nigerian vote to count, come 2019.
This, she said must be done in order to avert a situation a 2-year-old would be allowed to vote in some part of the country.
Former Minister of Works, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, while charging President Buhari to give Nigeria proper democracy, observed that the anti-corruption war of his regime had been one-sided, calling the Yoruba elders and leaders to unite and free the Yoruba from its present state of helplessness.
According to Senator Okunrounmu, the last three and a half years of All Progressives Congress (APC) being in the saddle had been traumatic, with poverty and job loss on the increase, declaring, however, that: “Yoruba will never be a slave to anybody, we reject it.”
The elder statesmen, who made it known that he was not a member of PDP, said that the option left for the Yoruba in the 2019 poll was to vote the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Abubakar as the next president of Nigeria, being “the only vehicle available to board.”
On her part, former Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Obada, who is also former Osun State deputy governor, while lamenting that there had not been improvement in power supply and infrastructural renewal in the last three and a half years and that the key positions of vice- president and others occupied by Yoruba had not translated to anything significant to the race, declared that Yoruba had been highly impoverished within the period.
“How are we going to do to get out of this problem we have found ourselves? Restructuring,” she answered, urging the gathering to think deeply.
Lagos State governorship candidate of PDP, Mr. Agbaje, while also contributing, said for Yoruba to win the battle before the race, the battle must first commence in Lagos and a stop put at how some people were using the resources there for their personal benefit.
Agbaje said it was imperative to remove those involved in the act from the equation so that nobody would come again to them to consult them on any of Yoruba issues.
“What we have come here for is how to win Yoruba back, it is going to start from Lagos. They are using our money to empower themselves, to make some people governors but for their selfish end.
“We will ensure that we will be for us, spent for us, not for them. Those ones when we remove them an equation, nobody would come to them any more to consult them on Yoruba issue,” he said.
Also speaking, the Lagos State chapter of Action Democratic Party (ADP) governorship candidate, Mr. Gbadamosi, who recalled that the sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his lieutenants were in their youthful age when they were all in charge of affairs in the country, said Yoruba youths had been abandoned for too long and now time to allow them to be foot-soldiers that would be pushed forward and encouraged.
“The energy of the youth have been ignored for long. Please continue to reach out to the youth. Let us go out there and win the battle and come back to report to you,” he charged the elders and leaders.
The post 2019: Yoruba leaders adopt Atiku, reiterate call for restructuring appeared first on Tribune Online.