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Afenifere, Mrs. Abiola And Yoruba Nation

These are definitely not the best of times for the Yoruba nation. Not because it had disagreement among it folks, which is normal among educated and enlightened citizenry, but because its core political elite is behaving like people who lack focus. It is likened to the Yoruba saying ‘the one who allows mind and spirit to destroy his life’ –won fi ori inu ba ti ode je.

Indeed, the disagreement among the self-determination crusaders in Yoruba land, especially the failed secessionist move by Dupe Onitiri-Abiola, is akin to a man carrying an elephant on his head and using his leg to search for crickets. Dupe is a widow from the huge harem of the politician and businessman, the Late Bashorun MKO Abiola.

This must have been the state of mind of Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, when he and his fellow Elders caucus of the Yoruba mainstream political group entered into Aso Villa on that Wednesday morning of April 17.

They were there both as a family and citizens to pay solidarity visit to their son -Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu- easily the one they regard as coming very close to the ideals of the group set up in 1951 in Owo, to propagate life more abundant for their people in Nigeria.

Since the return to civilian rule in 1999, the embrace of Afenifere in Aso Rock has never come to pass as the government led by Olusegun Obasanjo never for once shared the aspiration of Afenifere and larger Yoruba political elite who believe in resetting the Nigerian geographical and political configuration so as to have life more abundant for their people.

Instead, what they got from Obasanjo was to cause internal division within its ranks and this eventually weakened the group.

At the end of the day, a grand political deceit orchestrated by an ill-advised pact led to the defeat of the AD in five of the six South-West states in the 2003 general elections. The consequent schism in Afenifere that followed mark the beginning of the end of Afenifere political influence in South-West nay Nigerias politics.

Afterall, what is left after the head has been cut off.

On that Wednesday, Fasoranti must also have felt the pain that their gradual attainment of Restructuring had few days earlier been punctured by the enfant terrible in Mrs. Dupe Onitiri-Abiola, who on that fateful day jumped the gun by arranging her rag- tag army to declare A Yoruba nation when one of their own is in government and power.

Had the appointment not been booked before that day, the Ibadan ‘suicidal’ event would have killed Tinubu’s spirit -ironically he is the closest Yoruba can get to achieving their goal of self-determination in Nigeria.

There is no doubt the fact that Tinubu for the Yoruba has become a man of history for it was through his political brinksmanship- as ‘the last man standing,’ after the defeat of the AD in the five states that actually brought the political tendency of Afenifere back to power in the region. He was able to do this through his deft political moves using the courts and politics to ensure a resuscitated Action Congress emerged to wrestle power back by the progressives in the region and today he is the last Yoruba who can bring about the much needed Restructuring or at least a semblance of it.

Now, the question you ask yourself is what prompted Dupe Onitiri-Abiola or rather what gave her the impression that she can achieve her goal of pulling Yoruba out with her rag tag army by mere proclamation even if she had succeeded in taking over Oyo state government house.

With the ease her ‘army’ was decapitated, it shows that all she wanted was to use the ill informed ‘army’ to get attention and public affection.

Before the Afenifere leaders’ visit to Aso Villa, Tinubu had openly declared during his earlier Akure visit that the administration would pursue restructuring and this was earlier demonstrated by the open disposition to create state police as a way towards restructuring the polity.

Except by way of guerilla war fare, excising the Yoruba nation from the Nigerian nation at this critical period could not have been achieved in the manner Onitiri and her supporters had planned it.

It was clear as crystal ball that perhaps what she wanted was attention and nothing more. The scripture says wisdom is profitable in all things. Onitiri-Abiola’s style depict no trace of wisdom but portray more of a suicidal attempt which was evident in her ‘Hejira’, before his so called ‘army’ were rounded up. Her declaration of intent to take Yoruba out of Nigeria appears hasty with no solid plan.

It is only a foolish person that will spearhead the pulling out of Yoruba from Nigeria in her own land oblivious of the consequential damage it will inflict on South-West land, people and infrastructure built over the decades. The enemies of the region both from the North and South-East who had always want to depopulate and dominate the region will move in the way it happened during and if not more than the failed Biafra project.

The strategic position of being surrounded by sea makes the terrain quite attractive to both the far North and South-East that has no such privilege bequeathed on their region by nature.

The near invasion of Lagos in 1966/67 via the Ore front is an indication that the South-East is keen on having access to the Sea.

Sooner than later, people of the South-West region will appreciate the wisdom and true son-omo oko, displayed by late Col Victor Banjo in turning back at Ore and brief Biafran leader, Oduegwu Ojukwu of the difficulty of his batallion in invading the region.

Had he-Banjo, accepted Ojukwu overtures to take Lagos and by extension the West region by all means possible with the help of Biafra soldiers, the domination of the Southern part of the country by Ojukwu- led Biafra would have been a fait accompli.

The nationalities surrounding the region are merely waiting to invade the region and take advantage of our vulnerability since such adventures like what Onitiri-Abiola did was not properly planned. Not with a rag- tag army that could be vanquished within hours.

Beside, reason and logic which the Yoruba used in fighting the June 12 annulment war of which Onitiri was one of the foot soldiers, demonstrated Yoruba way of fighting its enemies and neighbour. The experience of using power of attrition was learned after the Yoruba internecine wars that lasted over 400 years which destroyed its land and robbed it of its agile youth consisting of its human resources.

Since then, Yoruba deployed tactics to evade destruction of its territory both during the 30 -month civil war and the June 12 annulment struggle.

It is to its credit that during the five years that the struggle lasted it held Nigeria down without firing a bullet until the logjam was redressed somehow even if its choice in the election was not allowed to ascend to power to the Northern political establishment and the outgoing military cabal for their selfish interests.

That is not to say that if other regions in the country through overt or covert means, later dictate the pace of breaking the country, it can easily be done by them its leaders coming together and negotiate such on acceptable conditions.

We however has to accept the fact that Onitiri-Abiola’s move however ill-thought and prepared, is an indication that there are many independent groups from the region who are tired of existing in the geographical enclave called Nigeria.

It is not impossible that such unknown groups will use failure of Onitiri-Abiola’s move to plan and launch similar militant groups should Tinubu exist power without achieving restructuring of the country.

But then, the declaration of Tinubu before his guests on that Wednesday visit that Restructuring is a fait accompli is enough to demonstrate seriousness given that War is not the best option to reset a country which leadership over the years is considered the exclusive preserve of a region. This should have sent a strong signal that all hope is not lost on a new direction for Nigeria.

Cleverly, the declaration by the Afenifere’s ‘wise men’ that they are solidly behind Tinubu and his methods at Restructuring is enough signal to other regions that the South-West as a political family is behind Tinubu and may not need a violent take over or declaration to achieve the minimal goal in Nigeria as being planned by Onitiri-Abiola and her tactless orchestra.

It was this method that the other body pursuing separation-the Yoruba Nation agitators led by Professor Banji Akintoye and its military wing led by Sunday Igboho used for three years by engaging the Fulani herdsmen-turn militant group through the Muhammadu Buhari government without using an Army.

Of course, they know that Buhari and his goons would have leveled down the South-West using the Fulani dominated military.

Igboho and Akintoye use wisdom-however inadequate it proved to be, to keep on the agitation.

This same wisdom informed their Open Letter to President Tinubu few days after the Afenifere’s visit.

By stating emphatically its resolve to adopt the United Nations charter approach, to pull Yoruba out of Nigeria, it is just calling the attention of other nationalities on the need to dialogue to reset Nigeria peacefully without resort to arms which Onitiri naively did too early.

Akintoye groups Letter may after all be a ploy to merely ginger up Tinubu on the need to match up his promise to restructure with action and walk his talk.

However, much as the action of Onitiri-Abiola may be deemed as too hasty and devoid of wisdom, the reaction of Afenifere Secretary-General, Abagun Kole Omololu, should be seen as a subtle way of endorsing need for proactive actions and measures to ensure the Yoruba groups keep her eyes on the ball and design other subtle and alternative ways to achieve it aims should powerful forces prevent restructuring has been planned by Tinubu.

President Bola Tinubu, Committed to Restructuring

Hear him: ‘We appreciate the boldness of the self-determination groups but would wish that their Legitimate Demand is carried out lawfully. Yoruba is noted for strategy, tacts and intellectual diplomacy. Afterall, Yorubaland is bigger than many semi independent and fully independent nations in West and Eastern Europe like Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in United kingdom.’

Above statement is not only a subtle endorsement of alternative means of achieving its goals but an indication that Afenifere may not come out to disown the militant groups like Onitiri-Abiola and the semi militant like Igboho if push becomes shove in Nigeria. Their attitude in the coming months or years may be akin to Omo eni ko leburu ,ka le fun ekun paje…. Meaning ‘however rascal your son is ,you don’t give him to the Lion to devour it’.

Afenifere midway stance on the Onitiri –Abiola and other Yoruba Nation agitators may also be likened to the saying, ‘nitori Aja ita la se ng toju tiIe’, meaning ‘you keep a dog inside because of the dog outside’.

Since dogs are loyal animals, it is wisdom to use the ones inside to checkmate those outside to mitigate an attack on you’.

It also means that the militant forces like Onitiri-Abiola and Igboho groups may ultimately be encouraged to go underground and serve as a counterpoise to the dreaded Boko Haram group which many suspect may be the North’s militant group to checkmate Tinubu’s government and other militant groups in Nigeria.

This is reasonable in view of the attitude and criticism of the leading Northern groups which fell out of favour of the government policies. The deteriorating security challenges now being experienced in the Northern part of the country could be interpreted as a political weapon to fight Tinubu’s government.

It is also incumbent to sound a note of warning and caution to the several Yoruba self-determination groups that that they shouldn’t in their haste turn their son who is apparently sympathetic towards their cause to a monster through their ill advised way and manner of pursing their belief.

No matter what anybody may think, President Bola Tinubu would not want a Michael Gorbachev scenario in Nigeria except if it is absolutely impossible and such scenario could only be carried out with the support of other regions that together elected him as President.

Using the available judicial and dialogue approach could be more cost effective in Restructuring Nigeria and its people for better future.

The next few months will definitely be very interesting for the country especially President Tinubu’s governments in its efforts to reposition the country governance structure which had been badly managed by successive government to the advantage of a section which may not let go power. The section it is clear to all and sundry has over the decades been used for the personal aggrandizement of its political elite to the disadvantage of the rest of the country.


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