The Yoruba Global Council (YGC), a foremost and prestigious Yoruba Diaspora-based socio-cultural organization, was established to advance the course and interest of the Yoruba nation through the promotion of unity, mutual trust, trade liberalization, co-existence and interactions with other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and the Diaspora. We are also committed to deepening democracy by fostering the ethos, values and healthy practices of representative government in the South West and Nigeria in general.
Given the plethora of security challenges plaguing the polity, YGC observes this year’s June 12 anniversary amidst sober reflection, apprehension and sheer discontent. Today makes it twenty-nine years of that momentous event in which the popular will of the Nigerian people was brutally subverted by the military junta led by General Ibrahim Babangida. It would be vividly recalled that on June 12, 1993, majority of the Nigerian electorate headed for their respective polling units to exercise their franchise in line with their conscience.
Unlike what transpires today, hardly was any voter influenced or induced with money before exercising his or her civic duty on that historic day. The process led to the election of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Presidential candidate, late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (popularly known as MKO). The emergence of MKO as the winner of that election widely adjudged as the freest, fairest and most credible poll ever conducted in the political history of Nigeria signaled hope and prospect for many Nigerians whose lives had been enmeshed in abject poverty, unemployment and illiteracy orchestrated by the prolonged military hegemony.
But to the dismay and utter chagrin of many discerning Nigerians and even international observers, the election was annulled. The backlash that trailed that iniquitous decision by the Babangida led military regime and the gloom unleashed on Nigerians by the Abacha junta (that toppled the Shonekan led Interim National Government) remains history for the consumption of the present generation of youth and posterity.
However, the coordinated agitation for dismemberment from the Nigerian state and the quest for the creation of Oodua Republic by the eminent Yoruba leaders and civil rights activists under the auspices of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and other pro-democratic groups on account of the gross injustice meted on Chief MKO Abiola, an illustrious son of the Yoruba nation heralded a new dawn in the political history of Nigeria. In a bid to douse the growing tension, the Northern oligarchy, represented by General Abdulsalami Abubakar, midwifed the Fourth Republic in 1999 by conducting a national poll which produced Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, another Yoruba son and a fellow Egba man like late MKO Abiola as the first president of the present republic. Ostensibly, this was done in order to appease or pacify the aggrieved Yoruba nation. Hence, June 12 remains a national watershed that is closely connected with the birth of the Fourth Republic and the democratic dispensation that the country is practicing today. But would we call Nigeria’s political system a real and truly democratic system?
Democracy, all over the world, especially in leading democratic milieus, is operationally synonymous with socio-economic growth, progress and development. Abraham Lincoln could not have made a mistake when he defined democracy as a government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is basically a system that is people-oriented, people-centered and cannot functionally succeed without the participation of the masses (electorate). The practice of civil rule or democracy is precipitated on the anticipation of development in all ramifications. A democratic dispensation is characterized by a well-defined constitution drafted and adopted by the people, rule of law, independent judiciary, free press, social justice, inclusiveness, fundamental human rights, robust civil society and security of lives and property. These canons of democracy are essential if any meaningful development or dividends of democracy are expected at the doorsteps of the citizens. Interestingly, Nigeria has recorded for the first time in its chequered history the existence of democratic dispensation for over two decades uninterrupted but are the canons of democracy existent in Nigeria’s context? Have the people felt or benefitted from the so-called ‘dividends of democracy’ since 1999? What has happened to the hope that Chief MKO Abiola promised Nigerians and the potentials the people expected to easily unlock under a democracy?
Without mincing words, Nigeria’s democracy has caused more havoc than good to the majority of the populace. All available development indices present a gloomy picture for the present and even the future. Today, the country is confronted with a myriad of challenges ranging from abject poverty, unemployment, high level illiteracy to corruption, insecurity, injustice and impunity in every strata of our national life.
Many Nigerians live below poverty line as many families can seldom feed their dependents three square meals a day. The economic woes of impoverished Nigerians are further exacerbated by disturbing news both in the national newspapers and social media of ‘first class corruption’ perpetrated by members of the political class, killings and kidnapping by Boko Haram insurgents and other criminal elements, especially in the northern fringes of the country. The money laundering scandal to the tune of 80 billion naira alleged to have been committed by the sacked Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, is an ample evidence to show that many Nigerians are paradoxically languishing in poverty. How can an individual steal such a humongous sum of money, while many of his co- citizens complain of hunger, joblessness, and insecurity? It is simply crazy and appalling!
Again, a melancholy trend that gives everyone sleepless night whether rich or poor is the issue of killing – either for money ritual, religious intolerance or political witch-hunting. Killing has now become a common phenomenon whose frequency qualifies Nigeria as a country worse than a banana republic or Hobbesian state of nature where life is short, selfish, solitary, nasty and brutish. The unwarranted stoning to death of Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a 200-level female student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, by some irate Muslim classmates and youth on the grounds of blasphemy, the barbaric and gruesome murder of the pregnant Hausa woman, Harira Jubril, and her three children in Anambra and the wicked ambush and burning of David Imoh – a 38-year old father of two in Lekki, Lagos are a few of the cases in point of frequent and wanton killings in the country.
The case of Deborah was quite annoying and pathetic. Going by reports at our disposal, Deborah was said to have made provocative statement, insulting the personality of Prophet Muhammed in the process. Her ‘careless’ remarks infuriated some fanatical Muslim classmates who invited other youths and pounced on their victim in a most horrendous manner as she was pelted with stones and incinerated until she gave up the ghost.
What could be portrayed as the most horrendous killing in recent time and still fresh in our memory was the reprehensible terrorist attack on innocent worshippers at the St. Francis Catholic Church, Owaluwa in Owo, Ondo State. Precisely on June 5, some unknown gunmen had disguised as worshippers and joined the peaceful congregants only to open fire as they shot sporadically at them.
No fewer than 50 people were reported dead and many seriously injured from the shootings and bombing of the senseless and barbaric marauders. The unprovoked attack in Owo that led to the senseless killing of innocent worshippers has depicted and confirmed the reality of total collapse of security in the country. One of the theories available on the reason behind the attack points to the Fulani agenda to take over Yorubaland and Nigeria as a whole.
This particular onslaught against Yoruba people will definitely spur the agitation for the creation of Oduduwa Republic and relationship between the Yoruba and other ethnic nations, especially the Hausa/Fulani, may be severed if these killings go unabated. YGC warns everyone who cares to listen that Yoruba sense of compassion, love, tolerance and accommodation toward other ethnic nationalities must not be mistaken for weakness or stupidity as Yoruba leaders and people can doggedly protect themselves and their land and will surely do the needful if pushed to the wall by their foes. YGC urges the federal government to deplore all relevant security agencies to embark on thorough investigation, apprehend the perpetrators and serve them appropriate justice.
YGC wishes to use this medium to strongly condemn the recent and ongoing killings across the country and also calls for immediate peace and harmonious co-existence as Nigeria and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) prepare for the conduct of the 2023 general elections. As clearly asserted in its previous press release, no election can be successfully conducted under an atmosphere beclouded by violence, conflict and senseless murders. Free, fair and credible polls can and will only see the light of the day under a peaceful and orderly ambience. Hence, YGC earnestly calls for a cessation of killings under whatever guise and implores the Buhari-led administration to rejig the country’s failing security architecture in order to effectively address these concerns.
Again, YGC, in alliance with the spirit of true democracy as canvassed by the symbol of June 12, Chief MKO Abiola, urges the Buhari-led administration to ensure that the will of the Nigerian electorate is upheld and their votes counted during the upcoming general elections across board. The sustenance of the democratic government through the transition process can only be orderly and acceptable if the electoral processes are in tandem with global democratic best practices and are adjudged free, fair and credible by both local and international observers. To this end, the federal government, INEC, party chieftains and other critical stakeholders in the electoral process must play the game according to its rule by allowing votes of the voters count. More importantly, the Federal Government in particular must accord the issue of peace optimum priority and has to deploy all state machinery at its disposal to ensure that adequate security of lives and property is guaranteed before, during and in the wake of the 2023 polls.
With regard to zoning, YGC enjoins the major political parties to thread softly and uphold the principle of rotational presidency in deciding who picks their presidential ticket.
A scenario whereby another northern candidate will be announced as the next president of the country will be regarded as partial, unfair and unacceptable by southern Nigerians. How can Buhari, a core northerner from Katsina State, just round off his eight year tenure as president and another northerner is allowed to emerge for the same exalted office? Does it mean the country belongs to no one but the NORTHERNERS? At a time and moment when agitation for secession by other ethnic nations is daily gathering momentum and appears to be unstoppable, it would be foolhardy and preposterous for the political parties to zone the presidency to the north again.
YGC hereby advises the two major political parties (PDP and APC) to work toward the emergence of southerners, especially from Yoruba extraction, as their presidential flagbearers and nothing other than this calculation will be accepted by the Council and other well-meaning individuals and self-determination organizations from the South. In this sense, the emergence of the former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is a bad omen for the unity and peace of the country and it is thereby unacceptable. YGC implores the party leaders and delegates to conduct a quick review into this matter.
In sum, YGC calls on peace-loving Nigerians to continue to advocate for peace and be peaceful in their conduct ahead of the 2023 general elections and beyond. It also admonishes religious bigots, criminal elements and devil-may-care politicians to desist from any action or behaviour that may trigger violence, conflict and separation of the country