When the very effervescent enigmatic Femi Fani Kayode hinted on the demand for Oduduwa Republic, asking Prophet T.B Joshua to pray for the emergence of independent country for the Yorubas, people like me that look at things at very sensitive issues meticulously regarded him as merely expressing his freedom of speech. But when recently a very well respected elder statesman of the Yoruba extraction, Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade added his voice to the demand by the Yoruba nation for independence, the awe it engendered was unmistakably severe for me. This revelation coming in the wake of the height of the agitation for Republic of Biafra left a myriad of feelings. For instance, it reminded one that the woes of the Ojukwu Biafra began when Chief Awolowo threatened the northern leaders of Nigeria that if the east was allowed to secede then the west will join suit. And ultimately the same Awolowo became a major Man Friday for the Gowon administration, blocking foreign aids to dying Biafran infants and ensuring that the easterners paid for the expences of the war.
Then now that Ndigbo at least can see the rising sun increasing in size of possibility some Yoruba voices have suddenly heightened their demand for Oduduwa Republic. For me, that would have portended a bad omen for the struggle for Biafra, if not that it has been established that the finger of the Almighty God is at very serious work on the Biafra project. No shaking! However, the show of interest for Oduduwa Republic by Yoruba leaders coming at this point in time leaves some very worrisome questions. Why now? Why has the Yoruba nation chosen to overtly declare interest for their own country when Ndigbo were at the verge of securing their freedom from Nigeria? Why have the Yorubas not done as little as displayed openly before now that they are disenchanted with the oppressive style of the Nigerian government since the war? Probably, the activities of the Oduduwa Peoples Congress (OPC) after the death of Chief MKO Abiola in the detention cell of the Nigerian government under Abdusalam Abubakar is about the only verifiable show of aversion to the oppressive and suppressive system in Nigeria. Besides this there is no other known effort by the Yorubas to directly demand for Oduduwa Republic. This probably accounts for their ridicule by those that are so inclined to see the Yorubas as cowards.
The above-painted scenario does not imply that the Yorubas were happy with the system. No they were not before, are not now and have never been since 1960. Remember that in spite of his very robust politics, the north ensured that Awolowo never got any special status beyond being a Yoruba leader. Tried as that great leader did, he died as Ojukwu described him, the best president Nigeria never had! In fact, it was such that Awolowo had to beg to be allowed to be Nigeria’s president even if for only one day! Only God knows what he planned to do as a one day Nigerian president! His one day may have been metaphoric anyway! It was such that for an alleged act of felony leveled against him, Awolowo was jailed by the northern leaders in the state House at that time. Ironically, when the plan to oppress and suppress Ndigbo was completely perfected it was the same Awolowo that became Gowon’s right hand man! This has since also earned the Yoruba the title of unreliable traitors! Indeed, I don’t care about all that as I care about why the Yoruba have suddenly started sounding the drums of demand for Oduduwa Republic. Ndigbo must be very observant and careful at this antic of the Yoruba nation.
Of course, I don’t in anyway suggest that the Yorubas have no right to agitate for freedom but I sure am worried why they have never visibly initiated anything that resembles agitation for self-determination by national groups that feel the need to be on their own. As I write it is unarguable that they Yorubas are in the league with Hausas to ostracize Ndigbo from a nation the three major ethnic groups teamed up to achieve its independence. Till today the evil machinations of the Nigerian government favours the Yoruba to the extent the hegemonic north wishes it to favour them. And by every standard of measure the Yoruba nation have always condoned the atrocities of the northern leaders against the rest of Nigeria. Otherwise, the Yoruba leaders should have been good enough to openly condemn the wickedness of the north against Ndigbo. It is, however, very surprising that the likes of Ayo Fayose, Femi Fani Kayode, Femi Aribisala and Doyin Okupa have of late been drumming support for the agitation for Biafra. How I wish they are as sincere as they sound! But that is too difficult to wish from Yorubas after what Awolowo did against Ndigbo during and immediately after the war.
For that significant reason of Ndigbo have had to suffer and endure over 50 years of severe hardship that goes with vengeful marginalization, oppression and suppression, their agitation has been said to qualify for attention by the United Nations as regards the granting of independence for any national group that has been genuinely agitating for self-determination out of an already existing national union. There is no controversy about this! Ndigbo have since qualified to be granted the Republic of Biafra that they have been peacefully demanding for these past 50 years! Nobody could say same about the sudden declaration of desire to have an independent Oduduwa Republic out of Nigeria. In other words, the Yoruba nation need to pay their dues in national marginalization by the northern leadership of the country for at least cognate 50 years before they can think of achieving that unfounded demand for Oduduwa Republic. The whole thing just appears to be another emergence of the Awolowo spirit of “if you allow the east to go, the west will go!” The must at least simmer down and en masse support the agitation for Biafra so that at the ripe time and age the creation of Oduduwa Republic may be granted if the demand receives the nod of the relevant global organizations and agencies.
The Yoruba must put one established fact before doing anything that may further frustrate and delay the emergence of Republic of Biafra. And that is as the Arewa Youths have succinctly articulated in the Kaduna Declaration. The continued forced entrapment and enslavement of Ndigbo in Nigeria will continue to do more harm than good to the country. Neither Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo will enjoy a better life in Nigeria. Hausa will continue to make life difficult for Nigerians just as they will continue to make Nigeria ungovernable whenever a Yoruba or Igbo is the president. The same will be the case whenever the Hausa produces the president just as we are seeing now with the Buhari administration which set Nigeria as ungovernable, leading to great suffering of the citizenry. Fiscal federalism, devolution of power, decentralization of Nigeria is the answer. And as the north insist that is impossible, the let dissolution be possible, at least for the Republic of Biafra to emerge. If Oduduwa Republic and others emerge at the same time, so be it. But let not Biafra be delayed because of the sudden Yoruba or Ijaw etc declaration of desire to have independence.