FEATURES: Alleged Claims of Genocide by Yoruba against President Buhari – The Matters Arising – By Adeleke Gbenga

FEATURES: Alleged Claims of Genocide by Yoruba against President Buhari – The Matters Arising – By Adeleke Gbenga

When I interviewed Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times, one of the foremost online newspapers in Nigeria to react to increasing agitations of some ethnic groups in Nigeria for self determination, especially their rights for self determination and referendum being agitated for, he appeared confused. He apparently didn’t prepare for this type of question which looked like an ambush for him.

I ambushed him, demanding for an interview shortly after he delivered his lecture scheduled to mark the 60th anniversary birthday of a veteran journalist and Secretary of International Press Institute(IPI)Nigerian Chapter, Alhaji AbdulRaheem Adedoyin popularly known as ”Olori-Ewe of Oro Kingdom, which took place at Banquet Hall, Ilorin Kwara State on the 23rd of July 2021.
Looking at the agitations for self determination from the prism of the current Yoruba nationalism that is popular on the streets among commoners in the Southwest and the attitudes of the political elites to it, one will understand Dapo Olorunyomi’s dilemma in his reaction.
He was as much equivocal and evasive to avoid being boxed to a corner, thus running away from committing a Freudian slip when I was unrelenting to get him nailed.
He apparently wanted to speak as a journalist whose duty, constitutional demands and ethic of the profession requires to stay above the fray in order to uphold public good.
He, on the other hand wanted to speak as a Yoruba man whose ethnic group perceive itself, as being persecuted by the present administration of President Muhammad Buhari.
This sense of persecution under the administration of President Buhari has spread like wild fire across Southwest. Some Yoruba elites have described and condemned it as genocide and had documented it, and even taken legal action by suing President Buhari and some key members of his administration to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity after their exit from office. They would be tried like other ex- Presidents or Heads of States who had been alleged to commit similar offences against their citizens when they were in power.
This sense of persecution has not only gained a popular and wide support in Yoruba land, but has heightened the Yoruba’s sense of nationalism which is quite unprecedented in Yoruba’s history within Nigerian Nation-State.
The only time comparable to the current mood when Yoruba felt aggrieved in equal proportion to their present travails within the Nigerian Nation-State, the travails tormenting their soul was during June 12 elections believed to have been won by a Yoruba son, late Chief Moshood Kasimonwo Abiola which was annulled by the Military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida.
For the first time perhaps, their current travails have not only unified the Yorubas who in the hitherto were fond of toeing different political and ideological lines but has also galvanized them to agitate for a separate Nation-State known as Odua Republic.
For anybody who is not aware or does not know, Yoruba people of Southwest are for the first time in the history of Nigeria demanding for dissolution of Nigeria.
Unlike the Igbos, what Yorubas often agitated and demanded for was restructuring and not an outright dissolution of Nigeria. An average Yoruba man believed in a united Nigeria. Though Nigeria has been badly managed by the elites across ethnic and religious lines, what an average Yoruba, especially the Yoruba middle class and commoners believed was that once a good leader who must not only be committed and able to fight corruption but must also be emotionally connected with the common men on the streets emerged, more than two-third of the nation’s challenges would have been solved. That was why they voted for President Muhammad Buhari in 2015 and more than half of their population still joined some parts of Northern States to vote for him in 2019.
Yoruba apparently were not comfortable with the current defective Federal Structures, a contraption foisted on the nation by 1999 Constitution by Military elites of the Northern extraction preparatory to the current dispensation.
What they had often demanded for is restructuring and replacement of the 1999 constitution which have been twice or thrice amended and not the breakup of the country until in recent time when they experienced the persecution Igbos had suffered and have always suffered, as a result of which they had longed for their separate Nation-State to be known as Biafra.
Yoruba really believed in true federalism and resource control otherwise known as fiscal federalism and still believe in the concepts which made them believe in a united Nigeria. But the Nigeria in which each ethnic group and each geopolitical zone will develop at its own pace, using its resources and initiatives. In this restructured Nigeria, power, resources and duties would be decentralized and devolved and no ethnic group or geopolitical zone would be allowed to be obstacle to another.
Nigeria practised this regional federalism between 1950 and 1963 which were the golden eras of Nigerian federalism. This regional federalism may not be an exact type of federal structure the Nigeria of today needs due to the exigencies of State’s structure imposed on Nigeria by the successive military administrations, to which many Nigerians had become accustomed.
So, Dapo initially, apparently out of reflex or impulse supported the agitators for self determination, hinging their agitation for rights for self determination on fundamental human rights. But on second thought, he capitulated as expected of every privileged member of the Yoruba elites who have benefitted from this Nigeria.
It is crystal clear, especially that the Yoruba political elites from their silent conspiracy and their equivocal attitudes to the killing spree orchestrated by the Fulani herdsmen and what appeared as herdsmen Federal Government supported terrorism that has turned Yoruba land into killing fields that they (Yoruba elites) presently didn’t want to ruffle feather.
They apparently didn’t want to offend President Buhari and their influential Fulani friends and that is why there is currently no political support for Yoruba nationalism and agitations for self determination.
This however doesn’t say that self determination agitation is not popular amongst commoners on the streets in the Southwest despite the fact that elites appear to be only reluctant to support it. The irreducible minimum they want is restructuring but their views are not popular with the people. Most of them, however are aware of this and are therefore afraid to openly express this, to avoid being seen as standing against the Yoruba’s popular wishes.
He said “Well there is nothing absolutely wrong with those who are agitating for their rights of self determination. It is part of their fundamental human rights which are enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. Since this is a constitutional democracy, people who feel denied by the systems to self determine how they want to live, how they want to develop, how they want to progress or how they want to define their identity and who they are, should be accorded their rights to do so. They should be allowed to express themselves and chose their leaders the ways they want. They should be allowed to utilize their God given natural resources and talents the ways they want. They should not be coerced to live against their wishes. Rights of self determination are rights government of any nation should not tamper with. Any group of people could see themselves differently from the ways others see them and could define them and decide the ways they want to live and pursue their aspirations. They should not be coerced. Self determination is a natural right but! !! !!!”. He abruptly paused and was silent for some minutes apparently to reexamine what he had said. But this was after he had expressed what was the popular view in the Southwest.
He, after this second thought condemned the agitations and said it may lead to the breakup of the country. He disclosed that the political elites and those who are influential and have substantial stakes in Nigeria among Yoruba elites may not subscribe to it despite persecution the Yoruba people have suffered under the administration of President Buhari.
To disclose that he was not outrightly against agitation for self determination if not for the fact that it may lead to the breakup of Nigeria and therefore affect the class interests of these few Yoruba elites, he cited the case of Ethiopia as an example.
”The only country in Africa that allowed rights of self determination in its constitution that could have served as good example for Nigeria to follow is Ethiopia which has presently fallen apart.
”Many Yoruba leaders who of course supported the agitation of their people, because it is obvious that Yorubas are being denied of justice and their rights under the present administration would be a bit circumspect to support anything that would lead to disintegration of Nigeria. So, Ethiopia is not a good example. But this doesn’t detract from the fact that Nigeria is already a failed State. Presently, there are Nigerian Army deplored to the 34 States of the Nigerian 36 States to enforce peace. This is an embarrassment. It is nothing outrightly but a state of war. Nigeria is currently in a state of war. This is not my personal view but disclosure made last week by a Honourable member of House of Representatives in the National Assembly who is a Committee Chairman on Defence” Dapo Olorunyomi quipped. He even blamed President Muhammad Buhari for the current ethnic and religious crises in Nigeria, condemning him that he lacks ability to manage the Nigerian complex diversity.
So, one could understand Dapo’s evasiveness and equivocation because the view he expressed was the view common and popular among a few of the Yoruba elites. But it is view detested by the masses in Yoruba land. These elites don’t often openly express this, for fear of being ostracized by the Yoruba masses.
For example Chief Duro Onabule, a veteran journalist and former Chief Press Secretary(CPS)of former President Ibrahim Babangida openly expressed this anti Yoruba sentiment and thus condemned agitation for self determination published in some Newspapers and social media some few weeks ago. He was not only descended upon by many Yorubas but was threatened. Many saw him as about to repeat the roles of traitor he played during the annulment of June 12 elections won by his boss and benefactor, late Chief M.K.O. Abiola by standing by General qIbrahim Babangida from the beginning of the crisis till M.K.O Abiola was murdered.
Chief Duro Onabule could not stand the heat of criticisms and condemnations that trailed his stand against agitation for self determination. He tendered apology and said he was misunderstood.
There are other Yoruba elites like that, the Yoruba nation has tagged as enemies because of their body languages and their outright failure to openly condemn the administration of President Buhari who is seen to be nepotistic and implementing the Fulani agenda, the Miyyeti Allah and other Fulani sociocultural groups who are seen as having declared was on Yoruba and other ethnic groups, and the persecution of Sunday Igboho among other infraction against Yoruba nation.
Yoruba are only waiting for the appropriate times to pay back these Yoruba elites generally dubbed as ”Qusling” across Yoruba land. The Yoruba had history for this. That explains up till today why, late Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola’s names had been forgotten in Yoruba history despite being once Western Region Premier.
Likewise the name of Chief Remi Fanikayode, the father of former Minister of Aviation who is now a Yoruba warrior, Mr. Femi Fanikayode, Chief Lanlehin, Late Chief Meredith Adisa Akinloye, former National Chairman of National Party of Nigeria(NPN)and late Chief Richard Akinjide among others.
They had been blotted out of Yoruba memory because of the roles they played against Yoruba interests during their time. If not for the fact that late MKO Abiola had a rethink and apologized for the roles he played during the Second Republic, Yoruba would have turned their back on him during the June 12 elections. They stood by him during his travails with his military friends and the Northern elites who annulled the election he won freely and fairly.
This is why many notable Yoruba elites have warned the Chieftain of All Progressives Congress(APC)Mr. Ahmed Bola Tinubu and his political groups in Southwest to learn from history. His romance with the present administration when many Yoruba sons and daughters have turned their back on Buhari seems too cold for comfort.
Tinubu had openly avoided condemning the Fulanis and the administration of President Buhari whenever they were alleged to have invaded and attacked Yoruba land. He was also evasive on the current persecution of Yoruba nor has he openly broached views on the plights of Sunday Igboho.
The deafening silence of Lagos State on the plights of Yoruba under the administration of President Muhammad Buhari sent shock waves across Yoruba land. This was not pleased to many Yoruba in Nigeria and Diaspora.
Well, I was told that at the right time, Yoruba know how they will respond to Tinubu and his groups on that.
Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, a scholar of Political Science and International Relations was miffed by this deafening silence from Lagos. He hinted on this in a write up he wrote a few days ago published in some Newspapers and social media and concluded just like others had done that Tinubu and his groups would sooner than later know Yoruba people.
Even some prominent Yoruba lawyers who apparently would not support Sunday Igboho’s method and don’t support agitations for the breakup of Nigeria had spoken and argued from the point of law in his favour. Among them is Chief Afe Babalola(SAN)and a legal luminary who argued and condemned from technical point of views, the DSS’s attack on Sunday Igboho’s residence at the wee hours of the day the invasion took place without bench warrant from a competent court of law.

He did this in a write up he penned and published in Nigerian Tribune and social media a few weeks back. He also raised many cogent and salient points that were pertinent to the constitutionality or otherwise of the DSS’s roles the invasion and ordeals of Sunday Igboho.
He brilliantly did a comparative analysis of the roles of secret police in I think, USA, South Africa, Australia, Ghana and Nigeria citing the relevant provisions of these countries’ constitutions.
He did this comparison to reveal how lawless the Nigerian authorities and governments could be in the course of the duties and charge that Igboho would sue Federal government and DSS to court for unlawfully invaded him residence and violated his privacy.
Just like many prominent lawyers and other knowledgeable people had argued that Sunday Igboho had not committed any offence against the Federal Republic of Nigeria for peacefully convening public rallies across the Southwest to champion Yoruba cause, Chief Afe Babalola concluded his argument in the said write up that if Federal government would allow fair trial or give Igboho fair trial, he would win the case against government. But the fear is that Igboho just like Nnmadi Kanu will never get fair trial in Nigerian court under the present administration.
And just like Professor Bolaji Akinyemi had said in his said write up that whatever eventually happens to Sunday Igboho whether he is eventually killed by the government or lucky to be alive, he has become a martyr and a Yoruba hero. He would definitely be an albatross to many Yoruba political elites because he has been deified as liberator of Yoruba by the masses both in Nigeria and abroad.
Femi Fanikayode also expressed this view believing that Igboho would be the nemesis of many prominent Yoruba political gladiators due to their current position on Yoruba’s persecution under the current administration.

Professor Bolaji Akinyemi convincingly even said Yoruba would soon witness a massive shift of leadership from the current political leaders in Southwest to new sets of political leaders.
Sunday Igboho emerged on the scenes due to failure of political leaders in the Southwest at their tried times the Yoruba people needed their political leaders to stand up for them. Most of the States Governors failed to provide security of life and property when Fulani herdsmen were attacking the defenceless people even though they are the chief security officers of their States.
Yoruba people are citizens of Nigeria and therefore deserved to be protected by the Federal security agencies under the control of President Buhari but these security agencies including the Nigerian Army took side with the attackers.
Several communities in the Southwest were attacked under the watches of their States’Commissioners of Police with no offender arrested and prosecuted. The political ruling classes, APC and PDP including members of the National and States Houses of Assemblies who are Yoruba indigenes looked elsewhere and kept mum while their people, the people they represented as political leaders were being mauled down and kidnapped by the Fulani marauders. Ahmed Bola Tinubu was even reported in the media to have pooh -poohed the allegations of Fulani’s terrorism, apparently defending them against the allegations. The Southwest people became defenceless and helpless in the face of extermination that looked like a premedicated genocide.
This was the situation that threw up a rabble rouser like Sunday Igboho. It was after he gained popularity and became an embarrassment to the political leaders that the Southwest governors came up with Amotekun security regional outfit which was reluctantly accepted by the administration of President Buhari but with no permission to carry firearms. This explains why Amotekun is weak till this moment.
It was also as a result of the rising profile of Igboho in the Southwest and Nnmadi Kanu in the Southeast that prompted the Southwest and Southeast governors to join their colleagues in the South south to convene the Asaba forum in Delta State which dovetailed to what is known today as Southern Governors’ Forum where the popular Asaba’s declaration of ”No more open grazing in the South” was made. Our governors halve heatedly took this initiatives when the freedom fighters in Sunday Igboho and Nnmadi Kanu are daily getting support from the masses on the streets. They are becoming popular more than these governors and other political elites which explained their knee jack response to the challenge.

On Self determination and Yoruba Nationalism.

The fact to be known here is that the current Yoruba nationalism is deep seated and real among the Yoruba people of the Southwest and their kin and kit in the Diaspora. Even though many Yoruba elites may not believe in the current Nationalistic outburst of the Yoruba people due to their own selfish interests, they can not obviously deny its existence.
The dangerous thing about expression of nationalism is it can snowball to a breakup of the country and war especially if the political leaders lack political experience to manage it especially if the groups expressing it feel strongly about it or feel persecuted or suppressed by another groups who see themselves as superior or master race. Nigeria should closely study Britain, the country that colonized Nigeria.
English people who often saw themselves as the owners of United Kingdom the way the Fulani often see themselves as owners of Nigeria fought many wars with Northern Ireland, Scotland to suppress their agitations for nationalism and self determination. English people defeated and suppressed the people of Northern Ireland on many occasions but this didn’t stop the agitations. It indeed hardened Northern Ireland and made them not only to raise their own army but created many terrorist groups which became thorns in the flesh of the English.
The Britain has flexibly amended many provisions of its constitution which of is unwritten to provide autonomy for its constituents such as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wale.
This was what equally happened to the State of Isreal recently created in 1946. Agitations for Jew nationalism, which led to the creation of Zionist, a Jew political movement with ”Zionism” ideology became widespread in Europe when the Jew ethnic groups who were citizens of different European Nation-States were being persecuted till the time Adolf Hitler later came on stage to master their extermination or genocide. Jews fled Europe and ran to America where they eventually became very strong financially, economically, culturally, intellectually formidable, scientifially strong . They started agitating for the creation of their own Nation-State eventually realised in 1946.
It also happened when the founding fathers of America mobilized themselves for war to liberate themselves from Britain to create a world to be called America.
There are many examples like that including in Africa but suffice to cite just only these few for the sake of time.
Self determination has never crossed my mind until recently when it assumed the life of its own after the Yoruba youths started. It needed not because it was not enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. Indeed, paragraph two of the preamble to the 1999 Constitution that makes the unity and harmony of Nigeria as one ”indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation” makes agitation for self determination unthinkable.
Some Northern political elites have often stressed this to emphasize the impossibility of breaking Nigeria by any group. Except true war. Expression of nationalism in its self is harmless to the sovereignty of any country as it could be pursued within a Nation-State. It is only when it becomes virulent like it is currently under the administration of Mr. Buhari among Yoruba and Igbo that it becomes dangerous and threatening.
But, the question is should a group or groups of people fold their hands and watch helplessly as their members face threats of genocide by other groups who claim to be superior? This is when the security agencies of such country are in the hands of members of this acclaimed superior groups and are using them to feather their nests? Is self-defense not always the last resort in such a helpless situation for the defenceless groups? Or invitations to the international community to intervene in their plights just as Yoruba have done in their current travails?
The current trend of the Yoruba nationalism which has assumed a dangerous dimension given its agitation for self determination means that it has transited from the realms of myth and utopia to that of ideology. This explains why almost all the Yoruba elites whether politicians, professionals, businessmen etc are supporting Sunday Igboho. They have presently taken the struggle from him and his agbero crowds which means the struggle has indeed assumed as ideological and political dimensions from its initial realms of myth and utopian dream. Only God will help Nigeria because whatever Yoruba set their mind on, they always achieve it. They have fed up with Nigeria and Nigeria will never remain the same again if political power shifts to the South and ends up in the hands of a Southerner, whether of Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw extraction or any other ethnic groups in the South for that matter.
President Buhari had inadvertently altered the map of Nigeria as it is presently constituted. And that is if Yoruba could even be placated at all and renegotiate with Nigeria. And whether Buhari and the northern elites understand this or not i.e the implications of their actions, is what one can not be categorical about.