SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED TO THE YORUBAS
Moses Oludele Idowu
Something has happened to the Yoruba’s. I don’t know precisely what it is. However, it is not a good thing. Of this I am sure.
Now a brief voyage into history.
In 1967 Nigeria was in a dire situation similar to what she is in now. Many have written about the similarities and seen the parallels between the two periods. But even in the midst of that chaos in 1967 the collective voice of the Yoruba’s rang out. As a matter of fact the Yoruba voice was the soundest, boldest and clearest in the midst of that cacophony of confusion, when even the government at the centre was in turmoil.
“If by any act of omission or commission the East is forced or allowed to secede from Nigeria, the West will also secede.”
That was Obafemi Awolowo, rising from the meeting of the Yoruba Delegates and reading the position paper collectively agreed by all the leaders of Yoruba. It was a clear statement, it was coherent and unambiguous. The whole speech itself is very short. Because it is when you don’t know what you are doing or saying that you ramble and perambulate.
That clarion voice from the Yoruba in unison roused the Military government and Gowon out of their slumber. In 1967 when Yorubas spoke Nigeria listens and came at attention. Africa listened and even the world took notice.
It was not an idle boast or an empty threat. They had the means to end Nigeria if they so desired. And the Yorubas warned Gowon that if they ever frustrated IBOs out of Nigeria then they should not count on it that Yorubas would remain. If Nigeria was lopsided even with the East in Nigeria, then it would be more lopsided with only two regions left and Yorubas too would have to leave.
That was 1967. The statement was made loud and clear when a military government was in place, without any fear.
As a matter of fact only among the Yorubas was there a clarion voice of definite statement and demand. Which the military had to meet immediately.
That was 1967.
Fifty two years after, you know something terrible has happened to this once- marvellous race.
How do I know that?
It can be seen in the discordant voices, staccato tunes and contradictory speeches emanating from kings, leaders and elites of Yorubas. You know there is trouble when you cannot decipher what is being said. You know there is a problem when leaders speak in parables at a time when plain language is required. In 1967 the leaders of the Yorubas spoke in clear, concise and coherent language, Awo was only reading what they agreed on. In 2019 i have not heard any such clear and unambiguous statement.
First it was the Ooni of Ife, with his statement which is so notable not so much for what it said as much as what it left unsaid. That statement is notable for its self- contradiction. First it says Yorubas would defend themselves. Then again, in another breadth, it was asking Buhari to help Yorubas to defend themselves. How will Buhari help you to defend yourself? Either he defends you or you defend yourself. That statement will remain a model of linguistic obscurity so common in Yoruba religion and metaphysics.
Then the Alaafin released his own Open Letter to Buhari and immediately reading that speech you could see the disagreement between his own position and that of the Ooni. Infact, the crux of the age- long feud was thinly veiled in that letter for those who can discern.
Then Obasanjo’s letter, which is more as a statesman rather than as a Yoruba man.
Within days of meeting Buhari, the Ooni was in Aso Rock again to meet Osinbajo, the Vice President.
Then all the notable Obas in Yoruba land went to Aso Rock to meet Buhari. And days after their meetings the Fulani herdsmen continued with their killings and kidnapping, without let and hindrance. Even two Wednesdays ago they still attacked motorists at Ogere, on the Expressway and last week the whole world heard the kidnapping of 5 RCCG pastors.
So nothing has changed and nothing is likely to change.
It is time our traditional rulers give themselves the honour and respect deserving of their offices. They are talking too much for their own good. Yoruba leaders are talking too much and it is not helping them. Perhaps they have not realized it.
Noise is a sign of weakness, not strength. It is a proof of how weak and weakened Yorubas now are. If Yorubas have not seen this, their antagonists can see it and they take notice.
When last did you see the Sultan in Aso Rock, or talking to the press? When was the last time you saw the Oba of Benin talking to the press?
In 1967 the Obas did not speak, they left that to their illustrious sons to do that. And that is how it should be.
In 1967 when Yorubas spoke a military government trembled and began to woo the Yoruba’s. In 2019 Yoruba leaders and kings have spoken and a civilian government does not even bat an eyelid. That is the proof that Yoruba have lost power, they have ceded ground to the enemy by a series of actions that are beyond the scope of my present investigation.
That is why I warn the Yoruba to be extra careful at this time and quickly do the right thing to regain what they have lost.
“Remember where thou has fallen and repent and do the first works…”, Jesus sent to a church in Ephesus but I think it is the best message to Yorubas at this time.
Today times have changed. 1967 is similar to 2019 but the dramatis personae are different. Will Yorubas incur defeat without war?
In 1967 Yorubas were the strongest and most united of all the regions, in 2019 it is the weakest and most disunited of all the regions.
The Southeast governors forum have spoken in unison and with one voice that they would have nothing to do with RUGA – so the Rugayats and the Rugacats can take notice. The Middle Belt have spoken against great odds. Likewise the Nigerdelta have spoken. What of the Yoruba? Where is the Southwest?
They are meeting, summit upon summit with no head or tail, with no communiqué nor verdict.
David Thoreau was indeed right: “O consistency, thou art a virtue”.
Is it any wonder that Miyetti Allah is threatening all the governors in Yoruba land that they would be held responsible if anything happen to the Fulanis in their midst. How about that? Did you see what I am saying? What power do they have to hold elected governor responsible in a civilian dispensation? But they can see the weakness and the disunity. That is the state we are now in.
I want to now move to the second part of this article: why Yorubas are divided at this time and why they are the weakest and most endangered.
There are now 3 divisions among the Yorubas. Yorubas can now be grouped into three separate and diametrically opposed groups. Let us look at each:
1. BOURDILLON TRAIN OR 2023 PROJECT
The first division among Yorubas now is what I call the Bourdillon Train or the 2023 project. These are the politicians, leaders, elites and officials who are angling for the return of power to Yoruba in 2023 and want to use the Southwest as a launching pad for that ambition. And their followers, hangers on, ruffians, coat hangers, touts etc. They have many government officials, legislators, ministers etc in this group and they control the Press, the Lagos- Ibadan axial press, the traditional power of the Yorubas. Because of their ambition nothing the Buhari administration does is wrong and Yoruba welfare and collective destiny are subordinated to the whims and the fulfilment of the ambition of one man. The good and welfare of future generations are sacrificed on the altar of one man’s ambition.
This group is further divided into three:
1. The 2023 proper whose ambition is rooted in the ambition of their leader and what they stand to benefit from it.
2. The Islamists
Make no mistake there are islamists among the Yorubas. They are not interested in democracy as in Sharia. It is real.
Remember that a former governor of Lagos state once confessed that some people have been putting pressure on him to go for Sharia? It was Bola Ahmed Tinubu who said it when Samson Ayorinde visited him.
Was it not an Alhaji, a Yoruba man who insisted a church must not stay around him during Raji Rasaq era for which cause Christ Chapel was demolished and uprooted? Was it not a Yoruba man who declared the birthday of Mohammed as public holiday, which is not even a public holiday in Saudi Arabia? Need I go on?
So make no mistake there are islamists among Yorubas and they would support anything Buhari government does whether good or bad.
3. The Religionists.
These are not islamists but they are committed Muslims. They know that Christianity is so entrenched in Yoruba land and will never be displaced by evangelism or whatever. So if RUGA will bring the Fulani’s and other people of their faiths that may graphically alter the religious demographic of Yoruba land then it is okay with them. Say what you like, this group will never move against Buhari nor protest his actions even if it is against the strategic interests of Yoruba land.
This is why Yoruba is divided today and cannot speak with one voice. These would subvert anything that appears to be mildly critical of Buhari, who they see as champion of Islam at this hour.
2. The OPPOSITION
The second group consists of those who are opposed to any move that may endanger the Yoruba and their interests. They are ready for anything to redeem the honour of the Yorubas come what may.
3. THE USEFUL IDIOTS
The third group among the Yoruba at this time is what I call, borrowing Marx’s expression, the “useful idiots.”
They are divided into two:
1. The Hallelujah chorus of Buhari and APC. As far as these are concerned Buhari is the best thing to happen to Nigeria. Mr. Integrity can do no wrong or see no wrong. Everything is okay. And woe betides you if you criticize Buhari.
Among these are educated and educated illiterates or certificated illiterates, who have gone through schools without learning anything. They are incapable of coherent, logical and independent thinking. They include the army of paid media men and women who recycle the lies and worn out rhetorics of nonsense of this ghastly government.