Oct 6, 2011 – Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Chairman Bisi Akande has explained why some political leaders will boycott today’s Pan-Yoruba National Conference in Ikenne, Ogun State.
Chief Akande told reporters in his Ila-Orangun, Osun State home yesterday that there was no basis for forging a common direction for political leadership in Yorubaland.
The meeting’s conveners are the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade and Chief Hannah Dideolu Awolowo, wife of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo,.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, has also faulted the meeting.
Akande is interested in Yoruba unity within the federation of Nigeria, but, according to him, the unity of the leadership is not the same as the unity of the people. He said the people expressed the direction they are heading to through their verdict in the last general elections.
“With the results of the last elections, the majority of Yoruba have signified their unanimity towards a direction. And that is the direction the Yoruba people are interested in. But, as for leadership, there are various groupings in professional arrangements, like intellectuals, religious, political, business, traditional and many other spheres of life.
“Our traditional rulers are our local leaders in our various traditional localities. I think if there should be any concern for unity in Yorubaland, the Ooni should start from the traditional rulers and not bother about political unity. He is not a politician. The unity of traditional leadership, I think, should be more of concern to him than the unity of the political leadership.
“About 10 years ago, I was very worried and concerned about disunity of the traditional leaders in Yorubaland. But then, I thought I was not strong or respected enough to call the traditional rulers to a meeting for the resolution of their differences, I appealed to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the then President, to join and assist me to settle the differences among Obas in Yorubaland.
“Initially, Obasanjo was not enthusiastic but at the end suggested that the Ooni of Ife, the Alaafin of Oyo and the Awujale of Ijebu-Ode should be allowed to meet and coordinate other obas. So, the trio were invited to a meeting at Aso Rock; without me or Obasanjo at the meeting. They were left alone to deliberate on the unity of the Yoruba traditional rulers for two hours. They came out happily, throwing banters and we believed all was well, after all. But today, everyone knows the situation with the traditional rulers in Yorubaland,” he said.
Akande said it would be unfair for a group of people “with an ulterior motive” to gather to trouble the peace of an old woman like Chief HID Awolowo over an agenda which will not produce any fruitful result.
The former governor of Osun State said the idea of a meeting about political leadership, unity and mainstream politics for the Yoruba did not catch his fancy.
He said: “Are they saying I should drop my vision for others? My vision is different from yours and that is why we are politicians. In the US, UK, France or many advanced democracies, there is nothing like politics of unity, except among a group of imbeciles. But the direction of the thinking of the Yoruba can only be realised when there is free and fair elections.
“I believe the old woman (Chief Mrs. HID Awolowo) should be allowed to enjoy the peace and grace of old age. She is aging gracefully and should be allowed to enjoy her last days. They should not hang around her neck the problems which they themselves know are unrealisable and which they themselves can’t resolve. We all cherish the old woman and will not want any trouble for her.”
Akande insisted that he could never surrender the vision of his party, the ACN, which says “when you are in power, it should be for the service of the people and not to amass wealth and punish the people”.
He said if anybody wanted to advance the cause of the Yoruba, it should be on how the Yoruba will rule themselves within a true federal structure.
Akande insisted that the orientation and promotion of an idea of “mainstreaming” and moving to the centre to share the largesse should be discouraged.
He said he and some Yoruba leaders would not be part of any group wanting power for personal aggrandisement and spirit of “sharing the booty”.
In Akande’s view, some Yoruba leaders calling for a unity meeting are possibly looking for a platform through which they will be closer to President Goodluck Jonathan and secure favour for contracts. He will never make himself available for such a selfish agenda, he said.
According to him, what made the late Chief Awolowo to stand out among his contemporaries and to remain relevant till today is his spirit of selfless service to the people and not championing movement into the centre to struggle for largesse.
Akande said it is shameful that many politicians go about professing Awoism when the spirit to help the poor is lacking in their actions and characters. (The Nation)