As a people of culture the Yoruba people are conservative but futuristic. To the extent that they invest heavily on the future they are often described as progressives with great value placed on peaceful change. For them, power is acquired often for the service of the people. Intrigue is a common feature among the people because of individual’s feeling of self-worth and value placed on family name which started to wane with the advent liberal participatory democracy. As siblings competed as political adversaries, nothing was to be the same again. Even the hallowed positions of the obas, the guardian of the peoples culture became threatened .as the new emergent political elite became more desperate. Thus today, the current Ooni of Ife whose father the Olubuse1 told the British hegemonic powers in 1903 that ‘an Oba no matter how powerful cannot wear a crown if his father did not wear one’ has since crowned all the Baales of Ife quarters including that of Modakeke that had engaged Ife in two devastating wars in the last 40 years. The seed of discord was sowed by politicians who in the name of democracy and quest for votes discouraged the Modakekes from paying taxes on Ife farm-land which was then the economic mainstay of Ife elite. The Ooni, who in 1931 when seniority crisis erupted between the Alaafin of Oyo and the Oba Ado as the Oba of Benin was then known, told the colonial powers that the latter was number two while the former was number three. The Ooni’s quibbling children have since challenged their father’s supremacy. When the Alaafin threw his own challenge not too long ago, there was an MKO Abiola, a wealthy powerful politician who had just acquired the all important Oyo chieftaincy-title of- ‘Are Onakankafo’ on hand to nudge him on. Abiola was to turn history on its head when he publicly said, ‘we have heard of Oyo Empire but never an Ife empire’. The Alaafin himself has since been challenged by the Oba of Ogbomoso who as late as 1903 was addressed as Baale of Ogbomoso.
But beyond the internal intrigue, what has prolonged the nightmare of the Yoruba is their involvement in national politics witch pitched them against other Nigerian ethnic groups at different levels of cultural development. Today the Yoruba bear the brunt of an unworkable Nigeria project. Their attempt to develop along their own line of national aptitude was resisted by other dominant ethnic groups and past successive attempts to forge a national alliance to move the nation forward ended in disaster.
Awo’s attempt to replicate his achievements in the West at the centre in order to move the nation forward was resisted by the forbears of the current beneficiaries of today’s anarchy, who clamped him into prison swearing he would be ‘too old by the time he comes out to question how we run Nigeria’. Akintola’s attempt to cut a deal to remain in power against the will of his people following a sanction for anti-party offences by his party leaders equally ended in disaster. MKO Abiola who was forgiven and rehabilitated after his initial betrayal of the progressive forces that provided him with a scholarship to study accountancy in London secured a pan Nigeria mandate after an election rated as the most credible in the nation’s history in 1993. The result was annulled by the reactionary forces. He spent his four years term in prison and died protecting the mandate he was freely given.
Bola Ige was an outstanding Nigerian as well as a Yoruba irredentist who out of a ‘feeling of self-worth’ decided to spite his Yoruba cult of elders by joining a much despised Obasanjo at the centre. The mix adventure encouraged by Obasanjo out of mischief ended in brutal assassination of Bola Ige in his bedroom by those suspected to be agents or reactionary forces he chose to dine with, albeit briefly. Obasanjo, undoubtedly a progressive in view of his futuristic policies as military head of state, and as a two term president, thought he was smarter than his Yoruba compatriots as he self-conceitedly boasted he had achieved on a platter of gold what others fought for while he was a mere bare-footed secondary school student. He however now has enough time to reflect on his intervention in the Nigerian project.
In the Nigerian unworkable enterprise, the Yoruba has been the greatest loser. A people that have been producing graduates and PhD holders since the mid 1800 have lost the initiative to even plan the education of their children. The national average of success in the last WAEC was put at 33%. With the virtual collapsed infrastructure which has led to the flight of multi-nationals that were once the strength of the zone, the Yoruba has lost the command of the economy now controlled by smugglers and importers of labour of other societies while our children roam the streets for non-available jobs. Today, the Yoruba that is not even represented in this administration because of siblings quibbling has nothing to fight over, as against the north and the east that have identified what they want from the nation. The former has even threatened to go to war over oil revenue sharing and the latter as survivalist with 60% of their compatriots spread over the country want the indigene-ship clause removed from the constitution. Ironically the two dominant ethnic groups who have often act as if their only stakes is what they can get out of the country have jointly ruled the nation since independence.
Now that those the Yoruba have invested heavily on in recent times are defecting back to PDP that has for 15 years called darkness light, I think it is time the Oodua siblings stop quibbling.
Last Sunday, Nuhu Ribadu, one-time AC presidential candidate and a pillar of APC defected to PDP claiming no party has monopoly of thieves. He now wants to be governor of his Adamawa State. Like Atiku Abubakar who the Yoruba has equally invested on, Ribadu doesn’t seem to believe in anything. Pat Utomi, a presidential candidate several times over and a pillar of APC is said to have obtained his PDP nomination form from Delta. Like Ribadu, he now wants to be governor of his oil-rich Delta State. Ali Modu Sheriff, two-time governor of Borno State and one time senator, widely demonized by PDP as the father of Boko Haram has now been welcomed by PDP with open arms. Last week, the cream of Igbo from the South-east attended a Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) rally where President Jonathan was endorsed for 2015. Before then, TAN had been spending money like water to make spurious claims of President Jonathan’s achievements.
These peddlers of fraudulent claims along with respected Igbo leaders and revered members of their communities such as Ribadu, Atiku Abubakar and Pat Utomi are the partners the Yoruba have been condemned to work with in addressing the nation’s national question.
Now with the elders of quibbling Oodua siblings hobnobbing with Mimiko, Daniel, Omisore, Fayose, men who have not demonstrated they have the capacity for a vision for our people, as desperate federal government unleash rascals, and characters who move around with hooded armed soldiers intimidating our people, the only choice left for our current authentic political leaders is to stop dissipating energy on those who do not share their common vision of society and turn inwards as their forbears did in the 50s. The petty wars going on in Ogun, Oyo, Edo and other parts of the South-west must stop in the interest of our people If it is impossible to have a common vision of society with those at different levels of cultural development, it is a challenge of present privileged Yoruba political leaders to combine the lesson of our past with their today’s activities to fashion out a vision of tomorrow for our people.