South Western Governors, others Absent at Yoruba Conference

Pan Yoruba Meeting Pan Yoruba Meeting

Oct 7, 2011 – South Western Governors, others Absent at Yoruba Conference

IT was billed to be the biggest gathering of the Yoruba elite in politics and the professions.

But yesterday’s pan-Yoruba Conference in Ikenne, Ogun State, home of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, failed to live up to its billing. It flopped.

Southwest governors, senators and other elected government functionaries from the zone, were absent.

The conference was jointly convened by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade and Chief HID Awolowo, the matriarch of the family of the late sage, to promote unity among the Yoruba. 

All current and past public office holders, traditional amd opinion leaders from the zone, among others, were invited. But only a few of them attended.

Governors Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), were absent. Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Ali Olanusi. 

Ex-Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel came in and left a few minutes later. Other former governors in the Southwest: Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo), Segun Oni (Ekiti), Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun) and Olusegun Agagu (Ondo) also did not show up. 

Lawmakers in the state and National Assembly were also absent.

Traditional rulers, such as the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Michael Gbadebo, the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Kayode Adetona and the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Michael Sonariwo, were not there.

The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and National Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Chief Bisi Akande, in separate statements, criticised the process leading to the meeting. They also questioned the motive of the conveners. 

But the Ooni and Mrs Awolowo, in their goodwill messages, said the meeting is not political but a “family affair.”

Present were Chief Olu Falae, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Chief Olaniwun Ajayi, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Prelate of Methodist Church Bishop Ola Makinde, Erelu Abiola-Dosunmu, Chief Kofo Bucknor-Akerele, Senator Anthony Adefuye, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Gen. Oladipo Diya, Otunba Gani Adams, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, Senator Iyiola Omisore  and businessman Jimoh Ibrahim, among others.

Mrs Awolowo said given the population of the Yoruba, their level of education and sophistication, it will be strange for the people to move in one direction politically. She urged critics of the conference to have “the love and interest of the race at heart”.

She said if the race had taken seriously the philosophical message embedded in the lyrics of a popular song by the late doyen of theatre, Chief Hubert Ogunde, they would not have had to hold the short end of the stick in the current scheme of things in the country. 

She said Yoruba children have become ready victims of routine violence and killings in Jos, the beleaguered Plateau State capital, adding that the situation would have been different if there had been the spirit of forgiveness and unity among the people.

In the communiqué issued at the end of the conference, the meeting deplored the deliberate plan to “isolate” the Yoruba from governance at the centre. It resolved to send a high-powered delegation to President Goodluck Jonathan to intimate him of the observed “plights.”  

The delegation is also to draw the attention of the President to the problems. The communiqué also called on the Federal Government to address youth unemployment, noting that Yoruba youths are the worse hit.

The communique condemned the attempt by some people to cause problem, discord and disharmony within the country, using the Boko Haram members as tools.

It appealed to Boko Haram to halt bombings and allow the Federal Government to find solutions to problems confronting them. (The nation)