Can the Yoruba nation be rescued and to rise again? ~ By Amos O. Olubobokun
Our Fathers gave us a proverb; “Ogun agbo tele ki npa Aro toba gbon”. A lame does not perish in a foretold war. Have we not heard that the Boko Haram/ Herdsmen carrying weapons of war for kidnapping etc have surrounded our towns and villages? Have we not heard that it is better to surrender our lands than to loose our lives? Have we not heard that they will not allow us to rule over them but they are to rule over us in perpetuity? Have we not heard that they will not allow us to have control over our futures? Have we not heard that they will use our bloods to wet the mountains and the valleys? Have we not heard that the nation called Nigeria is a gift to them from Allah? Have we not been told that the Herdsmen have the right to carry weapons of war to defend themselves and that we must confront them armless when they come attacking us? Are the signs not ominous enough? Are the dark clouds not gathering when we were told that the Terrorists are our brothers who we must accommodate and to be granted amnesty?
Yoruba Nation and the past!
” Ti Omode ba subu, a wo iwaju, ti Agbalagba ba subu, a wo ehin”. Yoruba have come of age. Omo Owo ki nku loju Owo….
History of the Yoruba nation must be known and thought and lessons must be drawn therefrom before the looming Fulani conquest of the Yoruba Nation. This is a dangerous time to play politics with the future of the Yoruba as a nation.
I read this conference paper and a post from Hon Adeolu Ogunbanjo ( Oro O Pariwo) and I am so proud of the Yoruba Nation and our Heroes past. Let us all be informed and work together to ensure that the lost glory of Yoruba Nation is resuscitated.
In the beginning, there was no Nigeria. There were ethnic nationalities and Kingdoms. The name ‘Yoruba Country’ appeared in a book: “Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country” written in 1851 by Anna Hinderer, wife of the Rev. David Hinderer, C.M.S. Missionary in Western Africa …33 years short of the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 that triggered the enslavement of a once proud civilization and 63 years prior to the British conquest and amalgamation of the different ethnic nationalities that make up the present day Nigeria in 1914. There was and still is an internationally recognized Yoruba Country before there was a Nigeria country.
Yoruba people developed one of the most sophisticated and well balanced political and governance systems in the universe, from 10th century on – a political system based on the sovereignty of the people, with strong dedication to the dignity of life, human freedom, and accountability in leadership and governance. This was confirmed in Report 1114 – the 1921 Annual Colonial Report on Nigeria by the British, when it says that ‘… the Yoruba occupy the western corner of Nigeria and from an early date possessed an organized government. [p.3]
“Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country”, published in 1851, 63 years before Nigeria was created reported that the Yoruba country, with a population estimated at about three millions, speaks one language, but comprises many separate tribes, occupies a region stretching inland from the Bright of Benin to within forty miles of the Niger, and bordered on the West by the Kingdom of Dahomey.
The gradual suppression of the slave trade may have significantly opened the way, in 1843, for the preaching of the Gospel to the inhabitants of the land, whose religion is a system of a multitude of the Orishas, above all, Ifa, “a system of divination”, who is represented and consulted by means of palm-nuts, are worshipped as mediators between the people and the one Supreme God, Olodumare, whom they acknowledge.
But the British invasion and amalgamation of the Yoruba Country with its diverse neighbours have produced tension and difficult moments for the Yoruba people. The next step in charting a course for the future is to safeguard the destiny of the Yoruba Country. The crisis in Nigeria has proven that developing the Yoruba Country is clearly on a path toward a more regionally integrated autonomy, yet nationally connected paradigm – one that better balance increased competition in the regions with a gradual, moderate national integration by a modest responsibility for Defence, Foreign Policy and the Economy for the Federal Government as negotiated and established in the Independent Nigeria’s first constitution under a parliamentary democracy, with executive power vested in a Prime Minister and each of Nigeria’s three constituent units: Western, Eastern, and Northern regions—also had its own government and premier.
Nigeria had its independence from the British colonial government in 1960. However, it is pertinent to know and note that prior to Nigeria’s independence in 1960, the Yoruba people had rejected the political leadership of Britain over the Yoruba Country as far back as 1952 in what was known then as SELF-RULE
Immediately the Yoruba attained self-rule in 1952, the political boundaries of the country were separated into the following:
4. District and
5. Native Authorities
The Regional Government was called the Western Region of Nigeria. The Region had the following Provinces:
1. Oyo Province
2. Ibadan Province
3. Abeokuta Province
4. Lagos Colony
5. Ijebu Province
6. Oyo-Ife Province
7. Ondo Province
8. Benin Province and
9. Ilorin and Kabba Province
I have added here Ilorin and Kabba Province as part of the Western Region of Nigeria because in 1952, referendums were held in the areas and the people voted to be part of the Western Region of Nigeria, the British colonial government handed over the results of the referendums to Tafawa Balewa and Nnamdi Azikwe in 1960, being non-Yoruba but Prime Minister and Governor-General of Nigeria respectively, denied the Yoruba people in Ilorin and Kabba their fundamental human right to be part of their kith and kin in Western Region of Nigeria.
Notwithstanding, however, the above 9 provinces were further divided into the following divisional boundaries.
A. Oyo Province had only one divisional boundary: Oyo Division.
B. Ibadan Province had two divisional boundaries: Osun and Ibadan Divisions.
C. Abeokuta Province had two divisional boundaries: Egbado and Egba Divisions.
D. Lagos Province was called Lagos Colony.
E. Ijebu Province had two divisional boundaries: Remo and Ijebu-Ode Divisions.
F. Oyo-Ife Province had two divisional boundaries: Ife and Ilesha Divisions.
G. Ondo Province had four divisional boundaries: Ekiti, Owo, Ondo and Okitipupa Divisions.
H. Benin Province had three divisional boundaries: Afenmai, Benin and Delta Divisions.
I. Ilorin and Kabba Province had two divisional boundaries: Ilorin and Kabba Divisions.
The above listed 19 Divisions were each further divided into districts. For want of space, I will concern myself with only the Districts of 5 out of the 19 Divisions.
The 5 Districts are taken from the Benin and Ilorin/Kabba Provinces.
A. The Benin Province had Afenmai Division, Benin Division and Delta Division.
1. Afenmai Division had Akoko-Edo, Ivbiosakon, and Etsako Districts.
2. Benin Division had Benin, Ishan, and Asaba Districts.
3. Delta Division had Warri, Urhobo, Aboh and Western Ijaw Districts.
B. The Ilorin/Kabba Province had Ilorin Division and Kabba Division.
1. Ilorin Division had Ilorin, Igbomina, Ibolo and part of Ekiti Districts.
2. Kabba Division had Yagba West, Yagba East, Ijumu and Kabba Districts.
To complete the Yoruba Western Region political boundaries, the districts were further divided into Native Authorities.
In total, the Yoruba Country had 1 Autonomous Region, 9 Provinces, 19 Divisions, more than 40 Districts and over 200 Native Authorities as far back as 1952.
This political system and boundaries under the exceptional leadership of our topmost statesman of the time –Chief Obafemi Awolowo – served the Yoruba people with the very best government in the whole of Africa. Under their leadership, the Western Region became the pacesetter in virtually all facets of modern development. As examples, the Region developed programmes that empowered Yoruba people to become some of the most productive in Africa. The Region became “First in Africa”, until the Ibo, using the military, suspended the system and the Hausa/Fulani, also using the military, instituted a unitary presidential system, an unworkable political system in 1966.
How Can Yoruba Nation Find Her Bearings?
The current Nigeria is not oriented towards development, advancement or prosperity. Nigeria now tends towards the maximization of power by the federal establishment. As a result, authority and control in Nigeria have been accumulated in the confines of the Federal Government. Nigeria, a country of different nations, has brought down the governments of the states of the Nigerian Federation to the level of impotency and incapacity. These have stunted the growth and development of the Yoruba Country and her citizens.
Regional Autonomy is thus believed to be the most appropriate strategy in “rebalancing” the growth to make the Yoruba Country more sustainable, hence, the Yoruba People, the most economically integrated nations within Nigeria, are leading the demand for regional autonomy among many other demands;
Regionalism: A restructured Nigeria federation consisting of a Central Government and Regional Governments of other ethnic nationalities – this could be based on the current six geo-political zones. The South-West Region must include all Yoruba people outside the imposed artificial boundaries in Edo, Delta, Kogi and Kwara.
Let Us Look at the Past again!
Once upon a time, there was a Yoruba Nation and the WESTERN NIGERIA LIVESTOCK COMPANY the initiative of the Western Region Government of Nigeria, established in 1956.
The Premier of Western Region was Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the
Minister of Agriculture was Chief Gabriel Akin – Deko who was later the Director/Representative FAO.
The Headquarters and Stock Breeding Centre was at Fashola Farm Settlement, Ilora, Oyo State. The Fashola Agric Centre was established by the British Colonial Government in 1946. There were 12
Ranches located at Odęda, Imęko, Iperu/Işara(Ogun State), Samonda – Ibadan, Onişę – Ire, Shaki (Oyo State), Oloba – Iwo (Oshun State), Agege, Ikorodu (Lagos State), Akunu Akoko (Ondo), Ikun Ekiti and Ado Ekiti (Ekiti State).
The Breed of the Grandparent Stock – the NDAMA was imported from Mali.
Ndama Cow- Average Weight/cow on the hoof was 500kg compared that to Fulani cow – 200/250kg.
The cows were raised in paddocks and fed on pasture in the rainy season under a shifting rotation management of pasture acreage. In the dry season the cows are fed on silage prepared from left over stalks after the grains must have been harvested.
The Western Livestock Company became moribund due to the arbitrariness during the years of aberrant military rule. All the cows that were grandparent stock were consumed. The project became unsustainable as the grandparent stock was not replaced. The equipment were dismantled.
The Odua Investment Companytried to resuscitate it and it became Odua Livestock Company. However there was no commitment from the Member States and the Management, and also the erroneous change in narrative that it is only Fulani that can rear cattle.
Again, How Can Yoruba Nation Find Her Bearings?
The Yoruba leadership and people must NOW wake up and have good sense of history that the Yoruba Nation had done it before with better results and yields in beef and milk. It was done without hazards to lives and properties as currently is the case with marauding and rampaging Fulani herder hordes.
This is a challenge for this generation of Yoruba. The Employment, Economy, Security and Social life of Yorubaland will be enhanced by the resuscitation of the ranches by SW Governments through PPP and JVs.
Still About The Past!
Industrial estates that dotted the Ogba, Ikeja and Ikorodu, Ibadan, Abeokuta etc. The Associated Batteries Manufacturers( ABM), Exide Batteries, Dunlop Tyres, Ovaltine and Cocoa, Textile Mills in all the region including Ado Ekiti, and many other factories and manufacturing outfits have all gone moribund.
I remember today with nostalgia the University of Ife Agric Farm and the Ife Dams. The farm had ranches and all the beef / milk, goats, poultry and other farm produce, fish from the dam were produced and supplied by the farm to feed the University and its environ. The Dam had four power generating plants with one functioning at a time, while the other three were serviced to function in turn to supply electricity and water 24 hrs to the University community. There were over 10,000 staff managing the Farm and Dam. There were health and sports facilities and all basic amenities and infrastructures required and needed by any modern community. This initiative was to be replicated in all the Local Governments of Western Nigeria but the union with Nigeria put an end to it. Imagine having such initiative established as revealed in the Chief Obafemi Awolowo manifesto, can our youths be roaming the streets for lack of employments? At the primary and secondary schools levels, there were school farms with pupils and teachers actively participating in planting, farm maintenance and harvesting.
The now Nigeria Port Authority used to be Western Nigeria Port Authority. The now Nigeria Television Authority used to be Western Nigeria Television and the Radio Nigeria used to be Western Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation. The Lagos Stock Exchange became Nigeria Stock Exchange. Lagos International Airport became Muritala Mohammed International Airport. The initiative of Prof Wole Soyinka and Oyo State Government on Road Marshal was hijacked after labelling it illegal like Amotekun to become Federal Road Safety Corps. The Lagos State initiative of Civil Defence and Security after the civil war was hijacked to become Nigeria Civil Defence and Security Corps. The list is endless. What of the degradation of our standard of education and healthcare facilities? It is time Yoruba Nation took back what belong to her from Nigeria that has nothing to offer but RUGA colony and slavery.
General Robert Adeyinka Adebayo (Rtd.) the Governor of the defunct Western Nigeria in his open letter to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu wrote; “Yoruba nation will fare better under a restructured arrangement. Everyone knows that there is nothing federal about our government at all. If truth must be told, the Yoruba nation has fared very badly since the advent of our new democracy. And this is not about holding power at the centre.The native business and industry gurus who dominated the landscape- Nathaniel Idowu, Amos Adegoke, Lekan Salami, Alao Arisekola, Adeola Odutola, Jimoh Odutola, Chief Theophilus Adediran Oni and others- are all gone with no credible replacements. I’m sure you remember the tyre factory of the Odutolas and how Jimoh Odutola was even asked by the Governments of Kenya and Ghana to set up a similar factory in their countries. Chief Theophilus Adediran Oni, popularly called T.A Oni & Sons started the first indigenous construction company in Nigeria. He willed his residence- Goodwill House, to the Oyo/Western state government, to be used as a Paediatric Hospital, which is now known as T.A Oni Memorial Children Hospital at Ring Road in Ibadan.
People like Chief Bode Akindele started companies like Standard Breweries and Dr Pepper Soft drink factory at Alomaja in Ibadan. Broking House built by the late Femi Johnson, an insurance magnate, still stands glittering in the mid-day sun as an epitome to a rich history that Ibadan has. Most of what stood as testaments of industry in Oyo State are gone- Exide Batteries, Leyland Autos and many others. In its place are shopping malls. That is how low we have sunk. If our past is better than our present- if we always look back with nostalgia frequently, then there is a problem.
Our education has gone to the dogs. We have a bunch of mis-educated and ill-educated young men and women roaming the streets. Ibadan, for instance, had the first University in Nigeria and the first set of research centres in Nigeria ( The Forestry Research Institute, the Cocoa Research Institute (CRIN), The Nigerian Cereal Research Institute Moor Plantation (NCRI), the NIHORT (Nigerian Institute of Horticultural Research), the NISER (Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research), IAR&T (Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training), amongst several others). Ibadan was the bastion of scholarship with people like Wole Soyinka, JP Clark, D.O Fagunwa and Amos Tutuola.
From the vintage times of Obafemi Awolowo who initiated ‘free education’, we have regressed into a most parlous state.
Let me talk about roads, housing and infrastructure . The first dualized road in Nigeria, the Queen Elizabeth road from Mokola to Agodi in Ibadan was formally commissioned by Queen Elizabeth in 1956. The first Housing Estate in Nigeria is Bodija Housing Estate (also in Ibadan) which was built in 1958.
We have abandoned the farm settlement strategy of the Western Region. The glory has departed from the Yoruba nation.
How have we improved on what our heroes past left us?
The only thing we can boldly say the Yoruba nation controls is the information machinery- the press. We own largely the newspapers- the Nation, Punch, Nigerian Tribune, TV Continental and a few others. It is because of our control of this information machinery that we have rewritten the narrative in the country with the misguided self-belief that things are normal and we are making progress. A look beyond the surface will prove that this is so untrue.
We are largely divided. Afenifere has been reduced to a shadow of itself. OPC that once defended Yoruba interests has gone into oblivion. Yoruba elders have been vilified in the name of politics and partisanship. Even under the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Yorubas never belonged to just a single party- yet our unity was without blemish. Now, our values have gone down the drain”.
Toward Oduduwa Nation
In Nigeria, there is no record of a Yoruba parliament agreeing with that of the Ibo or Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri’s parliaments to form a Union called Nigeria. But there were negotiations and agreements at independence among the Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa/Fulani for a parliamentary democracy with executive power vested in a Prime Minister and each of Nigeria’s three constituent units: Western, Eastern, and Northern regions—also had its own government and premier. This INVALIDATES and NULLIFIES the argument that the issue of restructuring or outright declaration of the Yoruba Nation should be taken to the National Assembly where as constituted can never, ever see the light of the day. The military had come and gone with all their decrees and 1999 Constitution was not the making /act of any Yoruba, Ibo or Hausa / Fulani etc. Parliaments. The 1999 Constitution, an Islamic Constitution was written by the Special Adviser on constitutional matters to General Sani Abacha, Prof Yadudu and was forced / imposed on Chief Olusegun Obasanjo by General Abdusalam Abubakar and on our present members of the National Assembly. NOTHING LEGAL THEREFORE CAN STAND ON ILLEGALITY. No amount of amendments can render the 1999 Constitution a legal documents for the federating units of the Union called Nigeria except the pre independence negotiations and agreements to form the Union called Nigeria.
It therefore makes perfect economic and political sense to declare for the Oduduwa Republic in the absence of Yoruba Regional Government that must include Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun and Oyo States as well as all Yoruba People outside the imposed artificial boundaries in Edo, Delta, Kogi and Kwara States.