Professor Banji Akintoye, centre, speaks at the maiden meeting of Yoruba World Congress. L-R Otunba Deji Osibogun, Chief Tola Adeniyi and Professor Ogunkeye and Chief Imam of Yoruba Land, Ilorin, Kwara-State, Shiek Aduranigba
The maiden meeting of Yoruba World Congress, YOWCO, an umbrella of all Yoruba Socio-cultural, self-determination and advocacy groups worldwide has held in Ibadan, with a call to President Muhammadu Buhari to either restructure the country or dissolve it.
Professor Banji Akintoye, a second republic senator, said to have been elected “New Yoruba Leader” declared, amidst applause from the gathering at Jogor Event Centre, that “Nigerian Government should either embrace restructuring or dissolve the country”.
The meeting had in attendance 80 Yoruba groups, espousing self-determination of the ethnic group. And they came apart from South West, from Edo, Kogi, Kwara and Delta States, where there are also conclaves of Yoruba ethnic stock or descendants.
With Akintoye on Thursday were the 93-year old first female professor in Nigeria, Adetoun Ogunseye; former Managing Director of Daily Times of Nigeria, Dr. Tola Adeniyi; Chairman of Space FM/Afro Space TV, Otunba Deji Osibogun; 107-year old Leaders of Agbekoya, Pa. Akikaka and Pa. Ayalu; varsity don, Prof. Wale Adeniran.
Central to the congress, were issues of security, economic challenges, food security, infrastructure decadence, youth unemployment, social exploitation; and how to move the region forward.
Akintoye, in his welcome address, pointed out the importance of defending and promoting the interest of the Yoruba nation in Nigeria, lamenting the decline of the influence of the Yoruba and the various efforts by different groups to salvage the situation.
Akintoye stated that “In today’s conference, we the founders and members of the Yoruba World Congress have assembled first to introduce and to highlight our objectives. We are gathered to send a clear message to the Yoruba people and to the other peoples of Nigeria that we are a great ancient civilization, the most educated people in Africa, and a people with widespread and enormous influence in the world.”
“We are sending notice to those who harbour dangerous and destructive ideas of conquering and subduing other peoples of Nigeria that our Yoruba nation is far beyond their capabilities to subdue.
“While we will continue to honour our tradition of hospitality to foreigners in our land, we will not hold back any effort to force out from our land any foreigners who come with the intent to hurt, to kill, to maim and to destroy.
“We do not harbour any ambition to subdue any people or to seize any part of their land, and we will make it absolutely clear to the world that nobody can seize any inch of our land. We also serve notice that we will resist and reverse the trend toward retrogression in the life of our nation in Nigeria.
“We will mount a multifaceted operation to stop our language from decline. We will mount powerful operations and campaigns to revive our agriculture, and to revive our industrial development that has been deliberately stopped in Nigeria. It is either they restructure Nigeria or dissolve the country peacefully”.
Among the groups at the meeting were factional leaders and members of the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, the Agbekoya’s, Yoruba Council Of Elders (YCE); Yoruba Youths Council; Yoruba Liberation Movement; Yoruba Koya Movement; Itsekiri Nationalists Movement; Edo-Oodua People’s Movement; Binukonu Omo Oodua; Oodua Foundation, USA; Yoruba Liberation Command (YOLICOM); Movement for Oduduwa Republic (MOFORE); Oodua Redemption Alliance; Oodua Liberation Movement; Yoruba Diaspora League; Oodua Nationalist Coalition; Federation of Yoruba Culture & Consciousness and Majiyagbe Olododo Oodua.
Others present at the meeting were Egbe Omo Yoruba in North America; Yoruba Action Movement; United Self Determination Platform of Oodua; United Self Determination Platform of Oodua; Oodua Renaissance Movement; Oodua Conscience Movement; Yoruba Oodu’a Union; Okun Development Association; Oodua Progressive Movement; Oodua Action Group; Awari Omo Oduduwa; United Yoruba Kingdom; Supreme Council of Yoruba Youths; Yoruba Traditional Conference etc.
Also present were members of Ajoro Omo Oodua; Ojulowo Omo Yoruba Group; Yoruba Women Progressive Alliance; Egbe afi Yoruba Pitu Ede; Oodua Coalition Against Insurgency & Kidnapping in Yorubaland; Ayanmo Ire Ile Yoruba Group; Imole Oduduwa Agbaye; Iyayito Oodua; Soludero Hunters Security of Yorubaland; Oduduwa Action Group; Peace for all Yoruba in Nigeria & Overseas; Yoruba Omo Oodua; Oodua Progressive Movement; Agenda for Yoruba Unity Reconciliation & Integrity; Oodua Professionals; League of Yoruba Market Men & Women; Oodua Youth Movement; Oodua Republic Front; Oodua Grand Alliance for Independence; Yoruba Sovereignty Defence Agenda; Ojoola Yoruba Egbe Obinrin Akoni amongst others.
Some groups sent representatives to the inaugural meeting. They were Oodua Revolution Movement; Oodua Renaissance Group; Itsekiri National Youth Council; Network for Yoruba Alliance; Okun Freedom Alliance; Egbe Omo Yoruba in Ghana; Federation of Yorubaland Worldwide (Germany); Yoruba Nation Emancipation Movement; Okun People’s Front; Yoruba Council of Women Worldwide; Yoruba Nation International; Oodua Youth Coalition and the Yoruba Afenifere Youth Council.