The national chairman of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Hon Wale Oshun, has stressed the need for all leaders in the Southwest to revisit the issue of restructuring to benefit the Yoruba race.
Speaking yesterday, in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, at the 2019 National Retreat of the group, Oshun said in spite of the fact that states of the geopolitical zone took different decisions in the recently concluded general elections, Yoruba people remain the same in terms of values and reasoning.
He said, “The Yoruba people are progressive people. We are lovely and we care for one another. We believe in peoples’ welfare and we remain the same despite our stand in the just concluded governorship and legislative elections.
“All we want as a people is to ensure that our interests at the national level are protected and that we get a fair deal in the scheme of things”.
Oshun, however, expressed fears that Yoruba language is fast going into extinction due to paradigm shift caused by globalisation and laxity on the part of some parents.
“This is one issue our governments and traditional rulers must correct and prevent from happening. That was why we started the Yoruba academy and we have been working on this with some states’’.
The group’s leader advocated true federalism, urging political leaders in the region to take a firm stand to protect the rights of the Yoruba race.
“Our leaders who know that restructuring germane issue should speak up the way the ACF used to speak on critical national issues”.
At the event, Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi and his counterparts from Ondo and Osun States, also threw their weights behind the actualisation of restructuring for the development of the region and the country at large.
Fayemi said the Yoruba race needs to be more tactical in its advocacy on the issue of restructuring and urged the proponents of the policy in the region to change strategy and reach out to other regions on how to actualise the dream of Nigeria being restructured economically and politically.
On the deeply entrenched voter apathy in the southwest region in the last election where 16.2 million people registered in the southwest, he said the outcome in all the states were shocking.
Governors of Osun State, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, said what could be regarded as a distinguishable attribute of the Yoruba people is quest for development and good governance, saying these should be sustained in the interest of the people.
He said the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors in the southwest will work with the governor elect in Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde in the interest of the region.
Fayemi said, “There are those who entertained fear on this issue of restructuring and whether this is legitimate or not, we must reach out to them, because we are not an island onto ourselves.’
“We don’t need to be shouting on the roof top before we get it, but if we want to do it alone, the agitation will fail”, he warned.
Expressing regret over voter apathy in the southwest, Fayemi said “In the last presidential poll, Ekiti registered 909,000 voters, only 381,000 voted; 0sun, 1.67million, only 737,000 voted; Ondo, 1.8m registered, 586,00 voted; Oyo, 2.7m registered, 891,000 voted; 2.36m registered in Ogun, 605,000 voted and Lagos with 6.3m, only 1.56m voted.
“This might be caused by deficit of trust or fraudulent multiple registration, but whatever the case was, as long as we remain a constituent part of this country, ARG should reflect on this and act appropriately.
“If it was as a result of deficit of voter education, then the ARG and governments have a lot to do. Religion also affected us, because some people were brainwashed to vote based on religious consideration”.
They said all the distinguishable traits of the southwest region initiated during the old western region must he brought back in the interest of the zone.
Oyetola, who was represented by his chief of staff, Dr Charles Akinola said, “ the Yorubaness in us and those things that separated us from others are our developmental drives, our intellectual rigour, our brilliance, circumspection and those values, however, have not really taken us to where we deserve”.
He appealed to the southwest governments to leverage on their human capital in the diaspora and bring them home for the benefit of all.
Akeredolu, who was represented by the commissioner for Regional Integration, Prof Bayonle Ademodi, added that the southwest is also facing serious economic and political crises that need to be addressed.
“We have to be really worried that the instability and insecurity in the country has started affecting us.
“We knew we had to think outside the box in the southwest on how to bring our own paradigm and we thought of Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) to work on how to put us back on the right track.
Akeredolu said the act of using desperation to get into power is becoming high in the region, saying this has made it difficult for people to have control over their leaders.
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