Mid-2021, the struggle for Yoruba country gathered traction in the South-West geopolitical zone. Chief Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, led the agitation in the final days of former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, which was accused of nepotism and giving undue advantage to his Fulani tribesmen at the expense of other nationalities.
The agitators even vowed that the 2023 general elections would not hold and that the agitation was not about a Yoruba president but to restructure the country.
The Federal Government was however determined to crush the agitation as the operatives of the Department of State Services on July 1 2021 invaded Ibadan residence of Igboho where some of occupants of the house lost their lives while Igboho himself narrowly escaped being killed.
Igboho later fled the country but was arrested at the neighbouring Benin Republic on his way to Germany. But with the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a Yoruba man as the president, the agitators for a separate country for Yoruba people appeared to have lost their voice.
Some argued that since their kinsman is now in control of affairs at the national level, the agitators have no other choice than to abandon the struggle.
Some Yoruba leaders and elders who spoke on the issue explained why the agitation may have died a natural death.
In his reaction, Secretary of the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Chief Oladipo Oyewole said the agitation for Yoruba Nation may have died down following the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as President of Nigeria. Oyewole, in his reaction said: “The situation in Nigeria at independence was such that each region was to be encouraged to develop its potentials to the fullest such that there would be growth, stability and all round development. Fundamental arrangements were made for each region to develop at its pace.
No sooner did we gain independence than the plan for regional development took another flight and unhealthy rivalry seeped in to tear us apart and ever since that time we started losing it. This is the foundation for the agitation for Yoruba Nation for total liberation.
Yoruba Nation was indeed poised to put an end to the obvious enslavement of Yoruba within Nigeria. At that time, the Yoruba people were seriously threatened and that situation encouraged every hamlet in Yoruba land to prepare for their internal independence.
Our people were being decimated and the main drive of our detractors was not just to establish a grazing route but to claim the soil of Nigeria up to the Atlantic Ocean. That had to be resisted. So, Sunday Igboho and Professor Akintoye came forth.
Now, with the emergence of President Bola Tinubu as President of Nigeria, should Yoruba people work against him? The answer is no.”
In his contributions, the former Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Kunle Olajide said the agitation for the Oodua Nation was declared based on the high level of impunity and injustice of the last administration.
According to him, “the agitation from the beginning was because of gross injustice under the last administration, the injustice at that time was unbearable. We now have a president who is very just and administering the country fairly, promoting peace and unity through his actions and programmes.
Therefore, there might be no need for further agitation. There is strength in togetherness rather than fragmentation, what everybody requires is fairness and justice and once that is embedded in government programmes and policies, there will be less agitation for separatism.
Chief Akin Fasae, Chieftain of the pan Yoruba nation organization, Afenifere, told Vanguard that “Even before the election of President Bola Tinubu, the agitation was dead on arrival, agitation of a separate Yoruba nation is not possible. Why do we want to have a separate nation, there is no way a Yoruba nation can give us the peace and development we are looking for.
What are we looking for, we are looking for leadership, now our own leadership has been given to us. They should cooperate with the President, they should go and tell the President how the Yoruba as an entity should be treated. They should go and tell him what they want.
And by the way who are those people even agitating for it, what is their pedigree, the only person they have there is Senator Akintoye, who is he leading? If we want to have a Yoruba nation, all our representatives, including the Governors and President have to be part of the agitation and is that possible? It is not possible. These people agitating for Yoruba nation must have something they are not telling us”.
Similarly, the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, Coordinator in Osun state, Yemi Aboderin disclosed that the agitation was not over yet, and that the agitators were keenly watching developments in the country keenly.
He said, “we have not stopped the agitation yet, we are only watching developments in the country especially, with regards to insecurity in southwest.
The fact that Bola Tinubu became the President does not stop agitation for Oodua Republic but there is a consensus to give him time to know how well he will perform. If the situation that prompted the people to agitate resurfaces, we might have to go back to the street, demanding that autonomous region. But for now, we want to stay and see how well the new administration will perform, particularly on the welfare and security of the people.
Mr Ayo Fadaka, former South-West Zonal Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, said, “No serious thinking person was involved in the Oodua Republic movement, irrespective of the fact that some intellectuals were active within those movements.