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Northern elders wail as gov Akeredolu introduces Oodua anthem in schools

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on Sunday described the adoption of Oduduwa anthem in public secondary schools in Ondo State as a very serious assault on the integrity of Nigeria.

The state government had, in a circular dated May 6, 2021, signed by Tolu Adeyemi, Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Teaching Service Commission and addressed to the Tutors-General, All TESCOM zonal directors and principals of public secondary schools in the state, said it was mandatory to recite the Oduduwa anthem in all functions in public secondary schools across the state.

The circular read: “The present administration of Arakunrin Okuwarotimi Akeredolu has adopted Oduduwa anthem as part of the civic responsibility of all residents in the state.

“To this end, the singing of the Oduduwa anthem has become mandatory at all functions, in all public secondary schools in the state.

“Therefore, all school principals and other top functionaries in the public secondary schools are enjoined to adopt, teach and encourage the singing of Oduduwa anthem at all functions, especially at the morning assembly in all schools.

The state executive council had recently approved the adoption of the Oduduwa anthem which projects the virtues, tradition and culture of the Yoruba race.

Akeredolu had said the anthem would be rendered immediately after the National Anthem at state functions.

Northern Elders’ reaction

Reacting on Sunday, Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Northern Elders Forum, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said: “If this is true, it represents a very serious assault on the integrity of the country by people who have sworn to uphold and protect it.”

He said such an action cannot be defended in any terms other than a provocation and a play at the gallery seeking to widen the damaging divide between Nigerians along ethnic and regional lines.

He said: “There’s only one anthem our children should sing and recognize. If there are other symbols with cultural significance they should be made to identify with, it should not be elevated to the level of a national anthem, or even supersede it.

“It the federal government is on its toes protecting the boundaries of our unity and national integrity, it would challenge this in court. It would also raise its levels of vigilance over the drift by politicians enjoying the benefits of our constitution who are pandering to very dangerous divisive tendencies”.

It’s a welcome development ~ Afenifere

But the pan-Yoruba sociocultural group, Afenifere, commended the Ondo State Government for introducing the Oodua Anthem, saying the anthem means a lot to it.

Afenifere spokesman, Jare Ajayi, in a chat with Daily Trust, said it was a thing of joy that Akeredolu introduced the anthem and made the state the first in the southwest to embrace it.

He said the whole southwest would soon embrace the initiative.

He said: “The anthem means a lot to us in Afenifere because it encapsulates our mission and vision for our land, the Yoruba land. We’e happy that one of the states in Yorubaland has adopted and we are encouraging others to do that.

“I understand Osun State is contemplating the same thing. So, it’s a thing of joy for us that a government in Yorubaland is becoming much more conscious of the Yoruba interest.”

He said this indicated that the zone had started manifesting the Development Agenda for Western Region which was also witnessed in the establishment of the Western Nigeria Security Network.

Yoruba nation agitators on their own ~ Akeredolu

Meanwhile, Akeredolu has disowned the agitators of Yoruba nation led by self-acclaimed Yoruba freedom fighter, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Igboho who shut down Akure for a rally on Saturday .

The governor, in a statement on Sunday by his spokesman, Richard Olatunde, said his acknowledgement of the right of individuals and groups to hold peaceful rallies, must not be misconstrued to mean support for secessionist agenda and or balkanization of the nation.

“Unequivocally, the Governor’s opinion on the Akure rally or any other of its ilk, is only to the effect that he is not opposed to any civil protest which is not in breach of the extant laws of the Nation.

“He neither believes, nor supports the quest for the Yoruba Nation outside of Nigeria in the manner canvassed. Governor Akeredolu stands by a virile, united and indivisible Nigeria as demanded by the Southern Governors’ Forum.

“It’s important, therefore, to state without any equivocation that the Yoruba Nation secessionist promoters do not enjoy any lending hand in Governor Akeredolu.”

From Bola Ojuola (Akure), Lami Sadiq (Kaduna) & Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos)

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