The Yeye Council of Elders vs. MEND

by Michael Oluwagbemi II

Elders, get off your chewing stick! It was quite an interesting read to see the brief exchange of words between the discredited Yoruba Council of Elders and our militant brothers of Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta over the recent operation (Hurricane Moses) that saw to the bombing of Atlas Cove; the nation’s main fuel depot which also happens to be located in Lagos state. Beyond the bravado in those exchanges of words, I personally couldn’t wait to see some real action. Won’t it be a great sight to see Gbomo take on one of the so called “baba elders” in a wrestling contest? That will be a sight to behold! I will pay to see that.

I swear I don’t know what these elders have brought upon themselves; what I do know however is that they are no true elders. The only true elders remaining in Yorubaland are Wole Soyinka, and the all round performing Governor Fashola of Lagos State and the political legacy he represents. The comments of both men, regarding the same worrisome situation which the YCE apparently was incapable of discerning and being constructive about says as much. But first, it is important we examine the antecedents of these so called “elders”. Who are these elders? What do they represent? Whom they speak for? What is their achievement? What is their record? The more I look, the less I see.

To be sincere, I am not one that has the deepest kind of respect for the current crops of Yoruba leaders. The state of the Yoruba stock, which nearly mirrors the wasted opportunity of Nigeria in the past forty years, exactly proves my point about the quality of their leadership. The high rate of unemployment, growing rate of poverty, failing infrastructure, lack of political organization and rising incidences of political thuggery is a testimony to the failure of the current crop of Yoruba leadership if there is any. But to be fair, these leaders should be judged by what they have done since the inception of the current democratic dispensation for very obvious reasons.

Here enters the first crop of Alliance for Democracy leaders; these elected governors rode on the back of Pa Awo’s indestructible legacy of performance and good governance, into the various governors’ mansion in 1999. By 2003, the failure of their leadership was so obvious it gave room for the cancer called the PDP which now straddles the region and denies the Yorubas of the progressive form of politics and governance that they generally have been known for. Even Lagos, the only state that is exempted from this phenomenon is only what it is today because the Yoruba Elders were dislodged. One cannot forget quickly the battle of wits that saw Asiwaju Tinubu dislodge those so called “elders” (led by Ex-Deputy Governor Bucknor Akerele) that ruined it for the other five states, and almost undid his nascent administration.

As if this disastrous showing was not bad enough, what most Yoruba youths will remember of the 2003 saga was the ethnocentric decision of the Yoruba Council of Elders to back Obasanjo not just for a second term but to tacitly support a third term: basically a civilian coup to undermine the nations’ constitution no matter how flawed. The Yoruba Council of Elders time and time again has proven to be not beyond the narrow minded sectional politics that has basically destroyed the future of their grandchildren and their bent of interpretation of the MEND attacks lends credence to this fact. When and what will ever make these leaders see beyond their filthy narrow interests that have only kept the legacy of Awolowo under lock and keys while legacy bastards like Olusegun Obasanjo, Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Alao Akala make a fool of what the essence of good governance is all about?

If you consider this showing disastrous, well the worst is yet to come. The greatest test of true a true elder is one that can marshal his members to speak with one voice, in support of truth and justice. Truth and Justice are generally bitter and not palatable; and it takes a great elder to force feed truth to his immature followers. But what did our elders do when they represented their own selfish interest at the Obasanjo Political Conference that turned out to be the smokescreen that begat the third term agenda? Well, nothing!

That conference offered the greatest opportunity to date for the freedom loving Yoruba people to build an abiding bond of solidarity with our Niger Delta brothers. Instead what we got at that conference was three states – Oyo, Ekiti and Osun, acting rogue in favor (and in tandem with some Northern States) of keeping the imprudent current resource sharing arrangement that runs counter to every spirit of derivation, federalism and resource control principles that one will casually associate with the politics of Yoruba forebears gone past. While this persisted, the YCE represented its “son’s” interest in netting an extra term, while selling out for a pot of porridge! How sad. Whose elders?

Let it be stated loud and clear, that these elders represent no interest but theirs. They speak only for themselves and their sons and daughters who have continually obtained ambassadorship, special assistant and ministerial appointments in an oppressive federal government that has no respect for the votes of the people, that disrespects our opinion, that steals our money, that oppresses the poor, that wastes our money, that favors centralization and every inefficiency associated with it in a powerful but morally bankrupt group of elites in Abuja. Those are the elders that have challenged their private god to a wresting contest. I can’t wait to see General Gbomo teach these native tribal warlords one or two lessons about challenging one’s personal Chi.

Wole Soyinka and Governor Fashola has said it all, need I say more? Fashola’s was a calibrated response devoid of the ethnocentric grandstanding and WS caution was timely. The injection of tribalism to an otherwise origin neutral question of justice and truth is not constructive, it is belittling and to say the least destructive. Let the true elders stand up.

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1 comment

Chi July 30, 2009 - 4:59 pm



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