Yoruba elders and leaders yesterday reiterated call for the restructuring of the country, saying that it is the best way through which Nigeria could ensure equity, fairness and justice.
The leaders and elders, including leader of pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, former deputy national chairman, South, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, Prof. Bisi Akintoye, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, among others, also resolved and adopted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as the candidate that would be supported by the Yoruba nation in the 2019 presidential election.
The gathering, which also included former deputy governors, Kofoworola Bucknor- Akerele, Erelu Olusola Obada; Senate Minority Leader, Senator Abiodun Olujimi; Dr. Bode Olajumoke, Dr. Remi Akintoye, Dr. Saka Balogun, governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos and Oyo states, Mr. Jimi Agbaje and Engr. Seyi Makinde respectively, took these decisions at a one-day South-West Colloquium with the theme: “2019: The South-West Speaks,” and also came up with a 12-point communiqué, read by Prince Uthman Sodipe.
The communiqué, while noting that the Yorubas remain cohesive, indivisible and strengthened by a common cultural bond and ideological vision, reiterated that “the Yoruba believe in the restructuring of the Nigerian union in order for the prevalence of equity, fairness and the dominating anchor of justice.”
Justifying the call for restructuring, the communiqué said, “The centre is too unwieldy, too disproportionate, effectively creating inequity in the distribution of the collective wealth. We must encourage every state in our federation to grow on the momentum of the available resources within their soil.”
The communiqué also said that “the Yoruba resolved to adopt the candidature of Alhaji Abubakar for the presidency in the 2019 elections in view of his support for the restructuring of Nigeria to create equal opportunities, fairness and justice for all stakeholders.”
While speaking at the colloquium, Afenifere chieftain, Chief Adebanjo, lamented that the Yorubas who were known to be the foremost race in Nigeria was now endangered to the extent that the country, which it belong to, was equally endangered, hence the need for Yoruba elders and leaders to join hands to rescue the situation.
Represented by Prof. Akintoye, Adebanjo said the Yorubas are endangered through high degree of poverty, insecurity and hopelessness, adding that all manner of insults and harassment were now being unleashed on the race like never before in the structure called Nigeria, charging others at the event, “We must come together to protect our people.”
He added, “Yoruba don’t know how to submit to failure. It is also not common for Yoruba to agree to poverty.
“We Yoruba are going through high degree of poverty right now, we are going through high degree of insecurity and we are also going through high degree of hopelessness.
“I have confidence that Yoruba would rise and fight the battle and we will achieve success.”
The Atona Oodua of Yorubaland, George, while also lamenting the state of affair in the country, said the Yoruba insist on a balanced, equitable country where every section of the Nigerian society would be free and unhindered in the cultivation of their natural resources.
Maintaining that restructuring is the way out for the country, George said he had travelled across the length and breadth of Nigeria and could see that every state was blessed abundantly with either agricultural or mineral resources.
He said, “If we all get up and work hard, the people in every state can survive without any largess from the central government.”
He also knocked the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for distributing N10,000 each to market women, describing it as “absurdity.”
He said, “It was indeed an obscene display of executive recklessness and abuse of office. Pray, where did the money come from? Was it budgeted for in the appropriation law? In more civilised nations, Osinbajo would have been impeached and prosecuted for gutting our collective treasury.”
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Olujimi said, “As 2019 approaches, we must come together, we must talk of restructuring, we must have unity of purpose, our leaders must represent our views. I believe we must demand the right of our people, we must change the narrative, we must allow ourselves to be led by leaders who believe in our cause.”
She also tasked the elders and leaders to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the amended Electoral Bill into law in order for every Nigerian’s vote to count, come 2019.
This, she said must be done in order to avert a situation where a two-year-old would be allow to vote in some parts of the country.
Former minister of Works, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, while charging President Buhari to give Nigeria proper democracy, observed that the anti- corruption war of his regime had been one- sided and called on the Yoruba elders and leaders to unite and free the Yoruba from its present state of helplessness.
Senator Okunrounmu said that the last three and a half years of the All Progressives Congress, APC, administration has been traumatic, with poverty and job loss on the increase.
He declared, “Yoruba will never be slave to anybody, we reject it.”
He made it clear that though he is not a PDP member, the only option left for the Yoruba in the 2019 poll was to vote the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Abubakar, as the next president of Nigeria, being “the only vehicle available to board.”