A chieftain of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenire, Senator Femi Okurounmu, discusses the state of the nation on this interview with DAUD OLATUNJI
Why are Yoruba leaders, particularly the standard rulers, silent on the rising killings by herdsmen?
Not all Yoruba leaders are silent. Definitely, the Afenifere leaders aren’t silent and that features Chief (Ayo) Adebanjo; he isn’t silent, I’m not silent, even Professor Banji Akintoye (will not be silent). He (Akintoye) will not be solely an Anifere member, he’s additionally main a bunch referred to as Ilana Odua, which can be preventing very onerous for self-determination for the Yoruba and for justice for Sunday Adeyemo.
Actually, there are different Yoruba leaders who aren’t silent. Bishop (Ayo) Oladigbolu will not be silent. I can hold mentioning names of leaders who aren’t silent. However in the case of conventional rulers, I cannot be stunned if conventional rulers are silent. You must know the historical past of conventional rulers in Yorubaland. A lot of them are superb personalities. However the establishment of conventional rulers in Yorubaland doesn’t have file in historical past. So, after I criticise the establishment of conventional rulers, I’m not criticising any specific Oba. However in the event you have a look at Yoruba historical past, the standard rulers have by no means been in defence of Yoruba individuals. They’ve by no means aligned their curiosity with the curiosity of the plenty of the Yoruba individuals. One of many best tragedies that ever befell us is the slave commerce. I’m positive you understand the position performed by conventional rulers in the course of the slave commerce. The white man didn’t go along with his gun to the villages to seize slaves, many of the slave commerce had been organised by conventional rulers to get individuals to go and promote as merchandise. They noticed them as marketable merchandise which they might alternate with the white man for issues like Whiskey and so forth. So, after we blame the white man for the slave commerce as we must always, the larger blame lies on our conventional rulers, who really profited from it and inspired it and even a lot of them, when the benevolent white individuals needed to cease it, a lot of them even opposed the stopping of the slave commerce, as a result of they had been already benefiting from it. That’s going very far again in historical past. Even, in latest reminiscence in the course of the Sani Abacha interval, when he was terrorising Yorubaland, only a few Yoruba Obas supported the Yoruba discussion board. A number of them went with Abacha. When NADECO mentioned we must always boycott the Abacha proposed constitutional convention as a result of the circumstances weren’t glad, the standard rulers had a gathering, Abacha despatched individuals to handle them and lots of of them started to assist Abacha. So, now we have to marketing campaign not solely in opposition to Abacha however, even in opposition to our personal conventional rulers, to ask individuals to boycott the elections that had been put collectively by Abacha. So, when Gen. Oladiya was having downside with Abacha, as quickly as Abacha informed them that he had confessed that he deliberate to hold out a coup, many conventional rulers purchased Abacha’s story and didn’t trouble to present Diya advantage of the doubt. So, on this present battle when Nigerians had been virtually being enslaved and when our ladies and farmers had been being slaughtered virtually each day, our village persons are being slaughtered commonly, in Igangan, Ibarapa space of Oyo State as an example, only a few conventional rulers cared about this so long as it didn’t concern them, a lot of them hold quiet. Actually, this murderous herders or the killer herdsmen who’re going about with Ak-47, kind of grazing their cattle and ransacking the farms of our farmers, consuming up their crops and so forth, lots of the victims have little assist from our conventional rulers as a result of a lot of our conventional rulers are even accomplices. Lots of them have cattle the Fulanis have given to them and those Fulani are rearing for them. So, when you have got the Fulani rearing cattle for the standard rulers, the standard rulers are glad, and so, quite than criticising the Fulanis, he retains quiet as a result of the fulanis have had a manner of shopping for him. They purchase the assist of the standard rulers and naturally you can’t rule out the problem of fears – worry of the regime in energy. Lots of them aren’t brave to talk out on behalf of their individuals. So, worry is one other issue and when your fingers aren’t clear, you can’t communicate out. So, these are among the the reason why a few of our conventional rulers are principally silent.
In Yorubaland, individuals don’t need to die, even when their freedom is being threatened each day. After they can see that this battle is coming to them, they’re so afraid, they don’t need to die. In fact, no one desires to die however in the case of defending important curiosity, a human being should be ready to die to defend his curiosity. Individuals don’t need to die however they’re at all times perpetually at warfare. Not as a result of they need to be killing their younger individuals however as a result of there are important pursuits to be defended. Values that should be protected in essence outline what America is and when these values are challenged or threatened, they’re able to die to the final man to defend these values. Britain will ship the younger individuals to warfare. Take a look at how viciously they fought the First World Warfare and the Second World Warfare, how they’ve been preventing in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will not be their nation, however Individuals’ lives had been misplaced in Afghanistan; British lives had been misplaced to America to defend values which they owe pricey, as a result of they didn’t need the Taliban to have the higher hand on. They worth democracy, they worth human rights. And so they suppose that anyplace on the earth the place human rights are trampled upon, that itself touches the soul of western society. So, they are going to die to defend it. What are we able to die for in Nigeria? Individuals are solely able to eat, sleep, have events commonly, have youngsters, earn money and experience large automobiles. That’s all.
One would have anticipated extra protests when the Federal Authorities moved in opposition to lgboho who’s preventing for the curiosity of Yoruba. Does it imply that he did one thing unsuitable?
The explanations are already embodied in most of what I’ve mentioned. Lots of people are afraid. They needed to kill Igboho, he was fortunate that they didn’t pay money for him that night time that they went to invade his home. If that they had succeeded in getting him, they might have killed him. They weren’t able to arrest him, they needed to kill him, and everyone has seen that and no one desires to die. Within the minds of each Yoruba, they assist Igboho, I can say 99 per cent of individuals assist Igboho however solely about 10 per cent are prepared to talk out loudly to say that they assist Igboho. The others assist him quietly, that’s why, to go on the road and display is a really open manner of demonstrating your assist and the regime below which you’re being ruled doesn’t care about human lives, doesn’t care about human rights. They’ll order their youngsters to come back and kill you and shoot you. See what number of youths they killed in the course of the EndSARS protest. They only killed them as in the event that they had been chickens and they’re able to kill individuals anytime. So, that is the sort of regime now we have in our nation and folks need to protect their lives as a lot as potential. So, that’s why there haven’t been sufficient protests. However, there are silent and quiet protests happening. Individuals are all in assist of Igboho. Not solely Igboho however individuals like Igboho. We’d like many extra Igboho in Yorubaland. We’re divided already. The Yoruba persons are searching for a rustic of their very own, Igbo persons are additionally searching for a rustic of their very own, even the Center Belt are withdrawing their individuals from all organisations within the North and the Niger Delta too desires to be on their very own. So, who’s left? We’re divided already. Everyone is crying that Nigeria must be damaged up so everyone might be on their very own as a result of no one desires to be a slave to a different individual.
There appears to be a proliferation of Yoruba socio-political, cultural and even secessionist teams. Does Afenifere stay the umbrella physique of a few of these teams?
Proliferation is pure to the Yoruba, (however) for all Yoruba to be below one umbrella is unimaginable; I can virtually say it’s unimaginable. Then, in the most effective days of (the late) Chief (Obafemi) Awolowo , not all Yoruba adopted him. Actually, when the Motion Group was shaped, despite the pro-people orientation of the get together, by way of its manifesto, a number of Yoruba elites had been against him. At the moment, NCNC was the opposite get together. Actually, the NCNC had been on the bottom earlier than the Motion Group was shaped. Within the 1952 election, many of the Yoruba municipal cities had been managed by the NCNC, together with my city, Abeokuta, Ile-Ife, Ilesha and so forth. The most important cities had been all managed by the NCNC, which had been against Awolowo. It’s the rural individuals, the native those that went with Awolowo; it was these individuals who stood to profit most from his programmes. When Awolowo promised free schooling, the wealthy individuals didn’t want free schooling, they already had cash to coach their youngsters; they didn’t want free well being care, that they had cash to take care of themselves, they even went to England to handle their well being however, the bizarre individuals who had no cash to ship their youngsters to high school knew that with free schooling their youngsters might go to high school and stand with the youngsters of the wealthy. Free well being care saved a number of lives, we had individuals who gave start to 5 or 6 youngsters and out of the six they could lose 5 due to lack of entry to medical care.
Does the Afenifere stay the umbrella physique of the race?
Individuals don’t robotically comply with a frontrunner; it’s the chief that sells himself/herself to the individuals, it’s what he/she achieves that sells him/her to the individuals. That we’re not having everyone below one umbrella will not be a shock but when I can say this, though there are such a lot of Yoruba self-determination teams, a lot of them pursue one objective – self-determination for the Yoruba. Most Yoruba individuals at the moment imagine in self-determination of the Yoruba, they imagine within the Yoruba Nation. Solely the fifth columnists, who shall be ready to promote their souls for cash in opposition to their very own individuals, will at all times be such individuals; in any case, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus – one out of 12 – so, there will at all times be such individuals. There are Yoruba who shall be brokers of the Fulani, who will take cash from them and work in opposition to the curiosity of the Yoruba, I’m positive now we have such Yoruba already, there’s a Yoruba group that’s campaigning in opposition to self-determination in UN; they’re saying that they don’t need self-determination; everyone is aware of that such a bunch is an outcast group in Yorubaland; they’re working for his or her pay masters.
Forward of the 2023 election, in your view, what are the probabilities of the South-West producing the following President, with the South-East additionally pushing for presidency?
The individuals which might be pushing for the presidency to come back to both the South-East or South-West are the very short-sighted individuals who can’t perceive the dynamic of what’s going on in Nigeria. We’re working a structure which makes the remainder of us slaves to the Fulani and the Fulani have refused to permit us to alter this structure to a unique one that may assure fairness and justice. So long as we’re nonetheless working that structure, of what good is it if a Yoruba man is President? Of what good is that to the Yoruba? Of what good it’s to an Igbo man, if an Igbo man is President? Take a look at the construction of the key political events at the moment, the APC and the PDP. Can anyone change into the President if he doesn’t dance to the Buhari’s tune; it’s not potential for anyone both within the APC or within the PDP as a result of the 2 events are managed by the Fulani. So, if you’re struggling to be the President you simply need to be a puppet and the Fulani will maintain the strings and they’re going to hold manipulating and you’ll hold dancing to no matter music they play for you. Is that what we nonetheless need? Do you need to proceed this servitude? For those who imagine that we’re in servitude, in the event you don’t change the election and now we have one other election below this structure, the servitude continues. Whether or not we now have an Igbo or Yoruba man there is no such thing as a distinction, the servitude continues.
There are safety crises in virtually each a part of Nigeria, proper now. What do you suppose the Buhari-led regime will not be getting proper?
How a lot did our governors take heed to the Afenifere? If our governors are listening, Yorubaland won’t be like this. They began Amotekun however Amotekun can’t function the best way the police will function, they can not carry gun they usually should at all times report back to the police as a result of they can not make arrests and prosecute. In the event that they arrest a Fulani man they usually take him to the police station, earlier than they know what’s going on, an order will come from “above” to launch the Fulani. Up until at the moment, the individuals who killed (Reuben ) Fasoranti’s daughter haven’t been taken to the courtroom as a result of an order from above. Buhari loyalty is to the Fulani, to not Nigeria. And after I say the loyalty is for the Fulani, not simply the Fulani in Nigeria, however Fulani from in every single place on the earth and that’s the reason he’s spending more cash to make roads in Niger (Republic) than he’s spending to deal with our personal roads; they’re supplying energy to Niger Republic, we’re not getting energy in Nigeria and he has a visa-free coverage for his individuals to come back into Nigeria, this coverage was made in order that the Fulani can are available with none hindrance. Whereas he closes our personal boarder right here, he opens extensively the boarders the place the Fulani can are available. Why does he need grazing reserve for the Fulani? Why does he need to management all of the river basins in Nigeria in order that the Fulani can have grazing areas and settlement areas? The coverage is kind of to extend the Fulani inhabitants in Nigeria, make them take over Nigeria and make Nigeria a Fulani nation; not only a Fulani nation however an Islamic nation. And after I say they need to make it as an Islamic nation, this has nothing to do whether or not you’re a Muslim or you’re a Christian, as a result of these Fulani individuals don’t regard Muslims from different tribes as Muslims; they regard them as keferi (pagan). After they kill the individuals, they kill Muslims as a lot as they kill the Christians. Through the Uthman Dan Fodio wars to take over Hausa kingdoms, the Hausa persons are Muslims, they accused them of not practising the correct of Islam and that was why he declared warfare in opposition to them and dethroned all their leaders.
Is it true that Nigeria is extra divided below this regime or it’s a declare to blackmail the President?
From all I’ve mentioned, is it no more divided. Are the Yoruba not searching for a rustic of their very own? Are the Igbo not additionally searching for a rustic of their very own? Even the Center Belt are withdrawing their individuals from all organisations in core North, additionally they need to separate; and the Niger Delta too need to be on their very own. So, who’s left? We’re divided already. Everyone is crying that Nigeria must be damaged up, so everyone might be on their very own as a result of no one desires to be a slave to a different individual.
It appears that evidently Afenifere is shedding its affect. As an example, the South-West governors not attend Afenifere’s conferences; they do issues of their respective states. What do you say about this?
This isn’t new. You keep in mind the break up between Afenifere and the AD (Alliance for Democracy) governors in 1999. That was when the break up began. It was Bola Tinubu that promoted the break up due to his private ambitions and Tinubu has been the one pushed by his private ambition creating division in Yorubaland. Ever since he organised the AD governors to interrupt away from Afenifere they mentioned they’ve one other Afenifere, they had been being led by Ayo Fasanmi, who has handed away now; they had been solely utilizing the previous man as a result of he had some well being challenges. And to indicate that they had been utilizing him, after they had been to rejoice a yr anniversary of Fasanmi’s dying, the youngsters got here to Chief Ayo Adebanjo’s a part of Afenifere to ask him to be the chairman of the event as a result of they knew the actual Afenifere. Tinubu’s ambition since then, all of us see what it did to the Yoruba; the Yoruba by no means had it this unhealthy when Afenifere was united. It was Tinubu that created this sort of disaster we’re in now in Yorubaland.
If we return to 2015, it was Tinubu that promoted the Buhari candidacy. Buhari that persecuted us, he persecuted each chief of the UPN after he had a coup in 1984. Buhari seized Awolowo’s passport and went to encompass Awolowo home in Ikene with troops, took all our governors then and locked them up and commenced to cost them with flimsy prices, regardless of that they had been essentially the most progressive governors they usually did their finest. Their performances had been the most effective of all governors, but it was our UPN governors they started to choose one after the opposite and despatched them to army tribunals by which they had been sentenced to 23-24 years’ imprisonment. Lots of them by no means survived it; they by no means survived Buhari’s trial. Olabisi Onabanjo, our personal governor, turned very sick and died within the course of; Ambros Ali of the then Bendel state died within the course of and Adekunle Ajasin of Ondo State actually died after he was launched in the course of the course of, he didn’t die in jail however by no means recovered from the ordeal. So, this is identical Buhari that Tinubu began selling in 2015, telling us that he was the most effective man; that he was now a democrat, that he was man. Afenifere warned them and I spoke the reality, I personally warned them and created a bunch, Yoruba progressives. I took commercial to remind Yoruba individuals of all of the atrocities that Buhari had dedicated in opposition to us, that they need to not vote for him, that he was a fundamentalist and that if he acquired into energy Nigerians could be in hassle. However Tinubu had some huge cash to spend and a number of our so-called educated individuals adopted him and voted for Buhari. We will all see the consequence at the moment. It was in that 2015 that Nigeria started to derail; it was when he acquired to energy that Nigeria started to enter the abyss, we’re virtually there. Afenifere’s popularity has been enhanced by Buhari’s authorities as a result of we warned those that they shouldn’t vote for Buhari, however individuals didn’t imagine us. Now we’re seeing the result. If we discuss now, in the event that they ignore it, is at their personal peril, Afenifere doesn’t mislead individuals. Through the Abacha time, Afenifere by no means misled them, identical as Motion Group crises, we by no means misled them. This time, we’re not going to mislead them.
Some individuals imagine that Afenifere has private hatred for President Buhari. Would it not be as a result of Buhari maltreated Afenifere’s previous leaders?
These individuals who imagine which might be naive and ignorant. So much went to high school simply to move exams and to not get educated; as a result of in the event you get educated you’ll comply with issues to a degree the place no one can deceive you or brainwash you. Despite the terrible issues Buhari did to our leaders, the UPN and our governors, which I’ve narrated, in 2007 Afenifere shaped the Democratic Individuals Alliance. At the moment, we had been in alliance with Buhari. If we hated him personally, there wouldn’t be an alliance with him and the rationale we had been in alliance with him was as a result of former President Olusegun Obasanjo needed to go for third time period, which we didn’t assist. So, we supported those that had been in opposition to Obasanjo and one of many those that had been in opposition to him was Buhari. At the moment, Buhari knew the place we stood, and he made a promise then that if he got here to energy he would restructure (the nation’s governance construction). He offered that to us as a result of we believed a lot in restructuring and we agreed to work with him. We held a mega rally in Ibadan collectively with Buhari to steer Yoruba individuals to vote for Buhari. We acquired branded garments and wore collectively to indicate that we supported him then. So, if we hated him personally why would we assist him then? There may be nothing like private hatred.
Throughout Jonathan’s regime, you had been very near him. Do you continue to preserve that relationship now?
I used to be not personally near him. Even after I was serving below him because the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee, there was by no means private friendship with him; I used to be a recognized critic of his administration. Throughout Jonathan’s regime we had been criticising him for marginalising the Yoruba. So, we weren’t shut; I criticised him on corruption. When Jonathan needed a nationwide convention he consulted (Anyim Pius) Anyim his SGF, who was my Senate President then. Once I was a senator and he knew my stand on nationwide convention, it was Anyim that really useful me (to him), I had by no means met him earlier than that point and he accepted the advice of his SGF
There appears to be a plan to deliver President Jonathan into the APC and provides him presidential ticket, so he might return for his second time period. Will you advise him to embrace this supply, if it’s made to him?
I can’t imagine that, I simply contemplate it a hearsay or a hypothesis that they need to deliver him again. individuals fly all type of rumours round. So, presently, I discover it very troublesome to imagine. If that’s true, that they actually need to deliver him again to be president, if he falls for that, he’ll lose my respect. Up until now, I’ve a number of respect for him. He’ll lose my respect as a result of this isn’t the sort of regime that ought to deliver him again to come back and be the president. I believe they only need to garbage him.My recommendation is that he shouldn’t take heed to them. Already, by the best way he handed over energy with none contest and so forth, he has received the respect of the worldwide group. They gave him an task. He’s some of the revered former African presidents. I believe he ought to follow that; that’s sufficient for him to reside on.
As for the 2023 election, by which route ought to Nigerians be trying?
Nicely, my sincere recommendation, as a politician, is that I have a look at what is feasible and what’s not potential. To begin with, if we are saying as a result of we imagine in Yoruba Nation, our individuals shouldn’t vote, that they need to boycott election and demand on their demand for a brand new structure and restructuring, we all know full nicely that Buhari is decided and I can predict Buhari that won’t have a brand new structure, he won’t have restructuring, he’ll go forward with the election. However there is no such thing as a boycott that has ever been profitable 100 per cent. Even whether it is 90 per cent profitable, with solely 10 per cent of the individuals going out to vote, out of that 10 per cent, seven per cent will vote somehow. No one has received. In such a scenario it’s authorities supporters that may win if these in opposition to the federal government will boycott the election. The federal government supporters will go and vote for each events, both APC or PDP. Whichever manner, the federal government supporters will win and they’re going to proceed the identical operations. So, boycotting isn’t an answer. So, I don’t assist the boycott. Secondly, I don’t assist that our individuals ought to vote for APC or PDP. As I’ve mentioned earlier than, they’re each Fulani events. The actual fact is that whoever is president below APC or PDP must dance to the Fulanis agenda. That isn’t anyway higher. So, I’ll rule that out. To me, solely possible possibility is to present our individuals an alternate get together completely different from the APC and the PDP. That is the one answer to keep away from boycotting the elections utterly or resigning to vote for a Fulani get together. We have to give the individuals a celebration which shall be an alternate, which Afenifere endorses, which they will vote for. To me, that’s the manner ahead and the rationale why that’s various is that if we achieve doing that and we stock our individuals alongside, at the very least, we will management our governors within the South-West. If we’re capable of management, win in Lagos and win Ogun, and as much as Ekiti, the governors in Yorubaland shall be within the rank of Afenifere and that shall be a step ahead in the direction of self-determination.
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