Oodua Republic: To Be Or Not To Be?

by Bode Eluyera

Before the raid of Yoruba territory by the British, the Yorubas operated a very sophisticated and efficient administration system. The defunct Oyo empire had a complex power hierarchy with the Obas at the top, and their chiefs, who could be compared to today’s ministers, who assisted them in running their respective jurisdictions. There was a well developed taxation system called “Isakole” which was an integral part of trade and commerce. In general, agriculture, trade and commerce flourished throughout the Yoruba empire. The Yorubas had their own indigenous religions, which were in no way inferior to Asia’s religions like Buddhizm, Chintoizm, Confucionizm, Zorastianizm, Islam and Christianity. IFA is not just a religion, but “a complete way of life.” Infact, the Japanese are so much fascinated with Ifa that they are presently studying it in Nigeria. In terms of arts and culture, the Yorubas could boast of one of the richest culture and some of the best arts works in the world. Uncountable number of Yoruba arts works that were stolen by the British during the invasion of its territory still decorate British, European and American museums up till today. These marvellous arts works draw millions of visitors to these museums who still find it difficult to believe that blacks are capable of producing such great arts works.

The Yorubas, despite all the odds, have made not only Nigeria but Africa and the black race in general proud in many fields and aspects. Yorubas gave Nigeria and Africa the first Nobel Laureate in literature in 1986. In general, without any exaggeration, Yorubas could boast of some of the best writers, medical doctors, engineers, academicians, lawyers, sportsmen, musicians, artists, e.t.c. in the world. Many sons and daughters of Yoruba descendants have recorded uncountable numbers of firsts both in Africa and in the world in different fields of human endeavour. In general, Yorubas have been pioneers and pacesetters in human development. The first stadium, radio and TV stations in sub-Saharan Africa were constructed in Ibadan by the defunct western region headed by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Pa Awo, as he was fondly called, was the first to introduce free education at the tertiary level. Yorubas have always regarded education or acquisition of knowledge in general, a high priority. Suffice to say that Awolowo was able to achieve these great feats or landmarks from the revenues generated primarily from cocoa.

Despite all the above mentioned achievements by the Yorubas, nevertheless, without any exaggeration, the ‘forceful’ merging of the Yorubas together with the Hausa/Fulani, is more of a disaster than a blessing, as one may wrongly think. Since their forceful amalgamation with the descendants of Othman Don Fodio, the Yorubas have lost control over their own destiny. Through different ‘hook and crook’ methods, master-minded by the British, the North has not only monopolised political and military power, but has a firm grip on key political events, right from independence. A fraudulent Constitution that robs Peter to pay Paul was put in place by the Northern led federal government. A 419 Constitution that denies bonafide owners the right to the use of their human and mineral resources first and foremost for their own development all in the name of building a FAKE AND NON-EXISTING ONE NIGERIA was enacted. Consequently, the Yorubas have been denied the opportunity to have a ‘complete’ control and say over vital economic, political and social issues that affect their lives directly.

The corrupt, visionless, incompetent and morally bankrupt leadership provided mainly by the North and military for the past 50 years have turned Nigeria into one of the poorest countries in the world, that live on less than $1 a day, despite its enormous mineral and human resources, which very few countries are endowed with. The government is unable to provide pipe borne water for its citizens for almost 50 years despite the fact that the country has one of the largest number of rivers in the world!

Nigeria generates one of the lowest electricity per person in the world despite the fact that the country is located right at the equator. A substantial part of its territory and citizens are always in darkness most of the time. Nigeria, feeds its citizens mainly with imported foods, despite the fact the country is blessed with some of the most fertile soils in the world. According to UNDP, the state of public health care is one of the worst in the world, despite the fact that Nigerian medical practitioners are rank among the best in leading western countries and oil rich Arab countries. No wonder that the average life expectancy is a shocking 42.5 years!

Today, almost 100 years after amalgamation, and 50 years of self-rule, the country is even more divided. One fact that is undisputable, even among the most adamant optimists and advocates of “One Nigeria” is the bitter truth that, today, almost 100 years after amalgamation, and 50 years of self-rule, the country is not only even more divided but is just a ‘mere geographical expression.’ The One Nigeria project has failed!

Uncountable number of Yorubas and Southerners have fallen victims of pogroms, unprovoked religious and political riots in the North. Sometime last year, the country was shocked to hear about the death of a Yoruba invigilator, who was hacked to death by her northern students. She, unknowingly, committed a crime, punishable by death, for seizing and throwing away lecture notes purposely hidden inside the Quran, in order to evade detection, by some northern students.

She had committed capital crime for carrying out her responsibility as an invigilator, which included preventing students from cheating in examinations. Unknowingly to the Yoruba invigilator, these aggrieved northern students had already made up their mind to teach her a ‘lesson’ for depriving them the opportunity to pass their papers in ‘flying colours.’ They way laid her after leaving the examination hall. After the examination, these aggrieved northern students rallied other northern muslim students and inhabitants together and told them that the Yoruba invigilator had thrown away the Holy Quran. She was sentenced to death in absentia in a kangaroo Sharia court that they presided over!

On her way home, the invigilator was confronted and accused of throwing away the Quran. Before this poor Yoruba lady could even fathom what she was being accused of, talk less of defending herself, the mob took the law into their hands and sentenced her to death right on the spot. THE MOB LYNCHED HER WITH PLEASURE, WITHOUT ANY HIDDERANCE. After carrying out the execution, they hug themselves and congratulated one another not only for a job well done, but for also sending another Keferi, or unbeliever, into her early grave.

Neither the colleagues of the Yoruba invigilator, other students nor the Police intervened to prevent the cold murder of this innocent lady. It is difficult to imagine, even in one’s wildest dreams, that in the beginning of the 21st century, and in a country that has existed for almost 100 years that a teacher could be murdered in cold blood in her own country by her own students while carrying out her professional duties, without anybody coming to her aid simply because she was unlucky to be from another tribe! The worst part of this tragic incident was al the culprits that took part in this murder went scott free, without being made to account for their crime. What a country! One Nation, one country indeed!

Suffice to say that uncountable number of Yorubas have been sentenced to their untimely deaths, either directly or indirectly – through curable diseases, poverty, stress, e.t.c. Millions of well educated and able bodied sons and daughters of Yoruba have been forced to migrate abroad in search of the green pastures due to bad leadership from the north, which has consequently impoverished the country. This mass migration has led to brain drain and weakened the intellectual capability and economy of the Yorubas as a nation. Instead of developing the economy of the Yorubas, they were compelled to develop the economies of other nations.

In addition to the above, a number of political events that have unfolded within the past 50 years, most especially, in the past 15 years, including the emergence of MASSOB, MEND, OPC and other militant groups agitating for independence are more than enough evidence that Nigeria is a ‘failed marriage!’ The injustice and abuse of power by the North is so apparent that the idea of breaking up Nigeria is no more being treated as cynical. The desire of the North to continue hanging on to power at any cost, and to the detriment of other tribes that make up Nigeria, has created an invidious feeling among many Yorubas.

It is difficult to believe that for almost 50 years of Nigeria’s existence as a sovereign country, it has never been ruled by anybody of Yoruba extraction despite the fact they make up about a quarter of the total population and are bestowed with numerous sons and daughters, who are more than capable.

Asserting that Yorubas have never ruled Nigeria before is in no way an over statement or exaggeration. Although, Obasanjo, de jure, might be a Yoruba man; although, there are some rumours that in actual fact, he is not a Yoruba man, but de-facto, he never represented the Yoruba. It’s a known fact that the Yorubas did not only just not support Obasanjo, they were ‘categorically’ against his candidacy! Falae was the preferred Yoruba presidential candidate. Obasanjo was so unpopular among the Yorubas to the extent that he lost to Falae in his (Obasanjo’s) own local government! It is an open secret that Obasanjo was imposed on the Yorubas and Nigerians at large by the northern cabal led by Danjuma and Babangida, the evil genius. The north bankrolled the Presidential campaign of Obasanjo, from the money they have stolen from the Niger Delta oil revenues, and made him the President against the will of the Yorubas. This fact was publicly admitted by Danjuma in a recent interview. He even went as far as tendering his apology to Nigerians for the role he played in imposing Obasanjo on Nigerians.

The Yorubaness of Obasanjo; if at all he is indeed a Yoruba man, reflects only in the name. The manner in which Obasanjo ruled Nigeria; his brutality, massacring of innocent Nigerians, total disregard for the rule of law; which is supposed to be one of the main attributes of a democratic government, and his failed attempt to hang on to power for life are more than enough evidence to prove beyond any reasonable doubts that his rule was not only an extension of the military regime, but Obasanjo is indeed a northerner, like babangida, abacha, e.t.c. who just happens to bear a Yoruba name. As a former soldier, he had spent practically all his adult life with his military colleagues, who are predominantly from the north. No wonder that he speaks Hausa fluently. Two Yoruba proverbs: “Ti omi ba pe lara ose, a di ose”; and “Ti aguntan ba baja rin, s je gbe” go a long way to describe Obasanjo and his attitudes.

The imposition of Obasanjo on Yorubas and Nigerians at large, was a well planned act by the north to prevent a real, respected and capable Yoruba leader from getting to the helms of affairs in Nigeria, and to strategically position themselves to take over power whenever the seat is vacated by Obasanjo – their protege. It was also a purported act to slight and humiliate the Yorubas. The north, despite the fact that its total contribution to Nigeria’s economy, according to different national and international sources, is less than 10%, nevertheless, has defacto been ruling the country, either through the bullet or fraudulent elections and manipulations, since independence.

Before the 1999 presidential election, all previous efforts by the Yorubas to give the country a national leader that all Nigerians could be proud of, who will work for the glory and prosperity of the country were jeopardised by the north. A case in point was the 1979 presidential election. Despite the fact that it was obvious that Chief Obafemi Awolowo was a much capable candidate than Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a former school teacher, nevertheless, the north rallied around their kinsman and voted for him overwhelmingly. Since Shagari lacked the necessary background and experience in order to be a good president, it was no surprise that he was a very weak president, who had no control or say in what was going on around him. He was more of a puppet president who had no clues about how to run a country effectively.

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