Yoruba leaders divided over Jonathan, Confab

Support for the re-election bid of President Goodluck Jonathan has pitted prominent Yoruba leaders into two camps – one in support, the other against.

As they gathered separately in Lagos and Ibadan on Thursday, both camps expressed different opinions on the topic and the agelong emotive issue of national conference for the ethnic nationality.

Those who gathered in Ibadan, Oyo State, on the auspices of the Yoruba Assembly, accused President Jonathan of maginalising the region and argued that the 2014 National Conference failed to address issues germane to the establishment of true federalism.

Their counterparts in Lagos lauded the President for the conference and its resolutions. They also expressed support for the President’s re-election.

The theme of the Pan-Yoruba Summit in Ibadan was: “Yoruba people: our aspirations and A communique issued by them after the summit listed what they called “minimum demands from the central government of Nigeria.”

They argued that the alleged marginalisation of Yoruba people had reached the status of deliberate policy of the Federal Government.

Present at the forum were the Vice Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; the Ekerin Olubadan of Ibadanland, Eddy Oyewole, who represented the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Samuel Odulana; and the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi.

Also in attendance was the Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola; convener of the event, Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade (retd.); former Ekiti State governors Chief Niyi Adebayo, and Dr. Kayode Fayemi; former Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola; eminent lawyer, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), among others.

The communiqué further expressed the concern of the Yoruba elders, over “calculated attempts to invade and subjugate Yorubaland, through covert, disguised and even official policies of the Federal Government.”

The communique read in part: “This was seen in the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states, where fake and hooded combat-ready militants were deployed under the cover of official security operatives, including the Directorate of State Service, police, and the Nigerian Army.

“Also, in the name of job creation, Nigerian youths are being trained and used for partisan political purposes in Yorubaland.”

They decried the absence of social infrastructure and collapse of the existing ones in the region, and expressed worry over the level of insecurity, pointing out that the resolution of the National Conference had failed to address key issues in the polity.

They added: “For the past 16 years, Yoruba people have suffered marginalisation within the Nigerian state. The Yoruba Assembly therefore calls on Yoruba people to vote for leaders who have their interests at heart in order to bring an end to this unacceptable state of affairs.”

In Lagos, the Afenifere restated its commitment to support the candidacy of President Jonathan.

A communiqué issued at the end of the grand finale of the post national conference summit resolved that the Yoruba nation fully backed and would work for the re-election of President Jonathan in the presidential election as the only guarantee for the implementation of the Confab recommendations.

The communiqué was signed by Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chairman of the summit and Afenifere leader; Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Governor of Ondo state and convener; Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Minister of State for Works; Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (2).

The list also included Chief Reuben Fasoranti, National Leader of Afenifere; Chief Olabode George, PDP chieftain; Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Secretary of Afenifere; Senator Femi Okunrounmu, Chairman, President Advisory committee on the National conference; Dr. Kunle Olajide, Yoruba unity group and secretary of Yoruba Delegation to confab; Prof Dupe Olatunbosun, Yoruba Leader; Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, National Chairman, Unity Party of Nigeria and founder of the Oodua People congress (OPC); Otunba Gani Adams, OPC National coordinator, and others.

In their communiqué, the Afenifere said: “Mr. President has demonstrated his commitment to the implementation of the Confab resolutions as evinced by the Federal Executive Council’s approval of the 2014 Confab report at its meeting of Wednesday, March 18, 2015.

“That the only change that the Yoruba nation considers to be in the best interest of Nigeria is a structural change of Nigeria on the basis of the resolutions of the 2014 confab.

“That the Yoruba is committed to a united and indivisible Nigeria based on the principles of justice, equity and rule of law, with ample respect and understanding for cultural, religious and linguistic differences.

“That the laudable resolution of the confab that each of the existing six geopolitical zones be equally divided into nine states accords with the Yoruba core value in which equity is ranked very high.

“That the place of Lagos as the most populous state as well as the economic hub of Nigeria and indeed the West Africa requires that all Confab resolutions that are of particular importance to the development of Lagos must be given the deserved support.

“That other profound resolutions of the Confab, particularly those that touch on devolution of powers, creation of state and community police services; making prison services a concurrent matter; allowing each state to have its constitution; decentralization of the powers over the establishment of Railways, Seaports, Airports and development of solid minerals, are central to the core interests of the Yoruba.

“That the thoughtful recommendation of the Confab that the presidency be rotated among the six geo-political zones as well as the rotation of the position of Governor among the senatorial districts of each states is in accord with the political aspiration of the Yoruba.”

While speaking at the summit, the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, said that the President should be commended for the successful conduct of the 2014 national conference, adding that the conference can be described as the most courageous step ever taken by any president since the return to democracy in 1999.

He called on all Nigerians to especially the Yoruba nation to come out en-masse to vote for President Jonathan.



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Ihesiulo Grace

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