Thus, by denying Pa Awo the presidency, the Yorubas and Nigerians as a whole were denied a very good opportunity of having a real leader with vision, who had all it takes to make Nigeria a prosperous and democratic country. The message from the 1979 election was more than clear: The North would rather have an incompetent and weak northern president than a competent and strong Yoruba president.
Abiola’s horrible experience with the National Party of Nigeria in 1983 is another very good example of the political oppression, suppression and humiliation of the Yorubas by the north. Abiola, despite his relatively young age in 1983 was already a veteran in Nigerian politics. He spent enormous amount of his wealth not only in building and strengthening the defunct National Party of Nigeria (N.P.N.), but was also among the major financiers of Shagari and campaigned for him vigorously in Yoruba land and Nigeria in general.
To the biggest surprise of Abiola, when he expressed his intention in running for the presidency after the end of Shagari’s first term, he was told by Umaru Dikko and other key party members from the north that ‘the presidency is not for sale!’ Abiola was stunned. He could not believe that the party and people that he had done so much for could tell him to his face that ‘they would rather have another incompetent northerner as president than a Yoruba affluent president.
The north reneged on the promise it gave to Abiola. He was left in the cold to leak his wounds! After the humiliating verdict, Abiola decided to call it quits with partisan politics.
Taking into consideration the fact that Abiola and other prominent Yorubas not only invested their personal money into NPN, but as well campaigned for Shagari, a Fulani man, on Yoruba’s territory, which subsequently led to some Yorubas casting their votes for him, what we need to understand here is the fact that by denying Abiola the opportunity to contest for the president under the flag of NPN, it was not only Abiola that was humiliated or aggrieved, but the ‘WHOLE OF YORUBA NATION.’
Perhaps, the worst humiliation, oppression and injustice that Yorubas were ever subjected to by the northern ruling cabal was the unceremonious denial of Chief Moshood Kasimawo Abiola the presidency in an election that was nationally and internationally acclaimed to be the fairest and freest in the history of the country, even up till today. Babangida, the evil genius, stopped further announcement of the result of the June 12, 1994, presidential election, regarded as the freest and fairest election in Nigerian history, when it became clear that Abiola was heading for a landslide victory against his opponent Tofa, from the north.
For the first time ever in Nigeria’s history, the popularity of a presidential candidate cut across different ethnic groups and political stripes; including the north. But, since the nationally accepted presidential candidate was a Yoruba man, and not a descendant of Othman Dan Fodio, the northern ruling cabal, which consisted of both civilians and military officers, were not ready for such a ‘transformation.’ Even, the ‘assumed bosom friendship’ between Abiola and Ibb was not enough for Babangida to relinquish power to his Yoruba friend!
All the efforts of Abiola and his staunch supporters to claim his rightful mandate were to no avail. Eventually, he was arrested, charged with treason and thrown in jail like a dog without any trial. He was subsequently murdered in prison when it became obvious that Abiola was not only not ready to trade or negotiate his mandate, but was ready to go to any length to defend it.
The arrest of Abiola, and his eventual cold blooded murder in the prison proves beyond any reasonable doubts the hypocrisy of the north as regards to its SINCERITY and COMMITTMENT to the so called ONE NIGERIA PROJECT. To them, One Nigeria is only when only a northerner, irrespective of whether he came through the bullet or rigged ballot boxes, continues ruling the country. The north’s understanding of democracy is limited to a northern president or power remaining in the power forever; either in the custody of a military dictator or an incompetent and visionless civilian president.
To Babangida and the ruling northern cabal, Abiola declaring himself the president of Nigeria after winning an election considered to be the freest and fairest conducted so far in Nigeria, was treason, however, to the same people, coup plotting or overthrowing of elected president, as was the case in 1979, was not treason. What a ‘double standard!’ The one billion question we need to ask ourselves is this: “If Tofa, and not Abiola had won the election, what is the probability that Babangida would refuse to hand over power to him?” I guess the answer is obvious. Your guess is as good as mine.
The denial of Abiola the presidency and his eventual callous murder in detention by the north, under mysterious circumstances was more than enough reason for the Yorubas to pull out of Nigeria immediately. Without any exaggeration and emotion, suffice to say that Abiola’s murder was not just a ‘big and dirty’ slap on the face of the Yorubas, it was a public humiliation. Calling it something else will tantamount to shying away from calling a spade a spade.
I am sorry and ashamed to say this as a Yoruba man; If we indeed had the guts, we should had taken some very drastic measures when the death of Abiola was announced, and declare Oodua republic with immediate effect in order to register our discontent and anger. Unfortunately, we did not only swallow the insult and humiliation, but allowed ourselves to be taken for a further ride by the north. What we Yorubas must understand is the fact that no matter the short-comings of Abiola, he was first and foremost our son, moreover, he fought for, and represented a democratic symbol.
In order to understand the gravity and get a complete picture of the events that led to the arrest and eventual murder of Abiola, it’s of utmost importance for us to analyse Abiola’s predicaments from another angle. Supposing Ibb was not a northerner, but a Southerner or Yoruba, to be precise, and Abiola was not a Yoruba man, but a Fulani or Hausa. Supposing a Yoruba president abruptly ordered that further announcement of the results of an election that was purportedly won by a northerner be halted. How would the north had reacted?
Let us take our analysis a step further. Supposing the Yoruba president arrested and threw into jail the assumed winner of the election. How would the north had reacted? Would they have sat down with folded hands and watched idly how events unfolded? To complete our analysis, let us now assume that the arrested winner of the election, who was a northerner, died in prison, under mysterious circumstances? Imagine if it was Obasanjo that did what Babangida did to Abiola and the Yorubas as an ethnic group. Imagine if Yaradua, thrown into prison by Obasanjo, had died in prison. How would the north had reacted? Your guess is as good as mine. Undoubtedly, the north would had set the whole south, especially Yoruba territory on fire. A second civil war and massacre of Yorubas would had been unavoidable.
As has earlier been mentioned, the public humiliation and political oppression of the Yorubas was completed with the imposition of Obasanjo, the most hated and unpopular individual by the Yorubas, to rule over them and the whole country. Today, the country is yet to complete compiling the list of uncountable atrocities committed by Obasanjo, talk less of recovering from them!
Today, after doing a lot of analyses of political events in Nigerian most especially in the last 15 years, many prominent Yoruba sons and daughters have come to the conclusion that the emergence of Oodua republic is ineluctable. Some, due to their status in the society and the sensitivity of the issue, have stopped short of calling for an outright break up. They have instead opted for a compromise and settled for a National Sovereign Conference. However, in the absence of the camera or microphone, they discuss the need for the Yorubas to take a full control of their destinies and not leave them to the north to toy with anymore.
Richard Osuolale Akinjide, SAN, former Attorney-General of the Federation under Shagari, is the latest among illustrious Yoruba sons and daughters to join the Oodua bandwagon by not only admitting the serious shortcomings in the present political and economic system, but has gone much further by ‘boldly’ calling openly for the break up of Nigeria. Akinjide needs no introduction when it comes Nigeria’s politics and legal knowledge. He is a Super heavyweight of Nigeria’s politics, history and Constitution. As could be recalled, thanks to Akinjide’s legal prowess, Shagari, a mediocre, who under normal circumstances, even in his wildest dreams, should not had even dreamt of becoming a permanent secretary , eventually became Nigeria’s president.
Akinjide, prior to his appointment as the Attorney-General of the federation, was the legal representative of NPN and Shagari. He used his legal expertise to argue in court that Shagari indeed met the 12 2/3 condition or won 12 2/3 states out of 19 states, stipulated by the Constitution in order to become the president.
Akinjide, in a lengthy interview, given in December 2008, revealed that the main reason why Shehu Shagari was toppled was to prevent a southerner from taking over power after the end of his term. The timing of the coup was perfectly chosen in order to avoid any suspicion as regards to the real intention of the north. Since it was a northerner overthrowing a fellow northerner, millions of Nigerians, even up till today, are under the illusion that the coup was strictly a military affairs, and never saw anything suspicious about it. In actual fact, according to Akinjide, the coup was a ‘conspiracy’ and a well planned treachery among northern civilian politicians in power and their northern military officers to keep power in the north for good!
For the sake of objectivity and our analysis, it is important to admit that the north used Akinjide and other learned Yorubas not only to achieve their selfish political and economic interests, but defend them as well – at the expense of the Yorubas and the south in general.
When legal luminaries like Akinjide and other learned Yoruba sons and daughters were serving northern military Head of States and quota system mediocre Presidents, perhaps, they ‘naively’ believed in One Nigeria then. However, many ‘unpleasant’ political events that took place within the past 15 years have opened their eyes and compelled them to rethink their respective positions about the so called One Nigeria Project. They mistakenly thought that they were serving Nigeria, without knowing that in actual fact, they were serving the north, and being used to carry out its ‘hidden agenda’ which entails exploiting the human and mineral resources of the Yorubas and the south as a whole to the maximum to develop the north, and abandon the latter to leak its wounds when there is nothing more left to exploit.