Over 1000 Yoruba, Itsekiri delegates meet in Lagos, set agenda for 2023
By Kunle Ademilua
Calls for immediate resolution of the National Question, release of political detainees
LAGOS: Nigeria risks a major explosion without a credible election that will urgently resolve the National Question and free indigenous territories from the grip of terrorist cells, Alliance for Yoruba Democratic Movements, (AYDM) has said.
Over 1000 delegates drawn from the Old Western Region plus Kogi and Kwara States took part in the two day conference held in Lagos this week. Many representatives also came from Ivory Coast, Benin Republic Ghana and leaders of Pan Yoruba groups in Northern Nigeria and the South South. The event was attended by Irohinoodua.
The Guest Speakers at the event were Prof Tayo Adesina of the University of Ibadan and National Democratic Coalition, (NADECO) chieftain, Baba Ayo Opadokun. The Itsekiri were led by 87 year old Pa Alfred Agbayegbe and President, Itsekiri National Youth Congress, (INYC) Mr Weyimi Agbateyinwo. The meeting was presided over by a notable journalist and conflict resolution expert, Mr Adewale Adeoye. The representatives of Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, (DAWN) attended the event. The Okun Development Union, (ODU) was represented by Mr Ayo Abereoran.
Other participants represent students, women groups, tailors, artisans, mechanic and hunters’ unions, farmers and leaders of self determination groups.
Delegates came as observers from the Middle Belt and the South South. The group in its communique issued after the technical session held on the second day of the conference said the interests of the people of the Western Region in elections have waned simply because their votes no longer translate to good governance. The group said there are four main tendencies in the South West; those who want restructuring, advocate for Regional Autonomy, campaign for sovereign Nation for the people and those who want elections to hold.
The group said those clamouring for self determination are justified by the excruciating pains imposed on the people coupled with the historical injustice.
“As we speak, our forests, high and lowlands in the South West up to Kogi and Kwara States are occupied by armed gangs.The farmers can no longer farm, women are raped, daughters gang-raped and children kidnapped and murdered pushing the entire territories into a state of siege and anomie. The people nurse bottled up grievances that can explode at any time” the AYDM said.
The group warned that time was running out for Nigeria amidst the bleak prospect of a free, credible and fair elections and the desperation of the ruling clique to ward off the real choice of Nigerians.
The group said Nigeria is currently in the grip of a reckless, corrupt, inept but defiant class whose major objective is to sustain the status quo at all costs. The small cell that rule the country wants to impose Presidential candidates on the people, a candidate that will continue with the same horrifying agenda of human persecution.
The group said Nigeria faces major sources of implosion that can drag the country into turmoil unless the people themselves seize their own destiny with their two hands.
In the communique signed by its General Secrrtary, Mr Popoola Ajayi, the 2023 elections face three major threats, the lack of resolution of the National Question through a new constitution, the desperate attempt by the Northern cabal to retain power in the zone and terrorism which the group said appears to enjoy the support of some state actors and the dwindling participation of the people in the electoral process leading to the disempowerment of millions of people in the South West.
“A credible election driven by public inclusion, the emergence of a honest leader with local and international appeal that can tackle past and present nightmares, the South producing the next President are not enough but offer the prospects of leading the country from her present dark and harrowing tunnel” the AYDM said. The group said the people of the old Western Region are disillusioned by the political system, corruption and ineptitude which continue to lower their enthusiasm for participation in the electoral process.
The group said increasingly in the South West we are seeing a situation where less than 10 percent of the population chose their elected leaders which is different from the past when the population of voters was enough to checkmate the prospect of dishonest and anti-people elements. It added that the historic false population figures have been exploited by the ruling clique to manipulate elections and exclude millions of Nigerians from expressing their political desires out of their own free, prior and informed consent.
The group said a section of the people put their hope on the fact that a honest, transparent and progressive leader may emerge in the Presidential election that will bring hope in the place of forlorn despire
“The AYDM will work with many groups for greater inclusion, which requires people taking their destiny into their own hands to create a paradigm shift in the electoral process by using their numbers to assert their demands backed by mandate protection.”
The group said massive political activism of the people, their popular expressions and raw determination to challenge the ruling cabal are important in the search for peace, security and a prosperous future for the long suffering people of the South West.”
The group said it has taken note of the demand by many participants to embark on massive people driven campaign to ensure effective action of the South West people in the political process adding that it is necessary in order to help appreciate and justify the real population of the people of the region.
“The people are losing faith in elections. This is coming amidst attemps to manipulate the 2023 elections through imposition, retention of power in the core North, the emergence of a corrupt and wayward aspirant and the lack of commitment to resolve the National Question and the release of political prisoners which are major issues that should be tackled to avoid Nigeria slid into anarchy” the AYDM said.
The AYDM said the prosperity of the people have been further marred by armed terrorist invasion, kidnapping, seizure of territories by armed gangs, rape of our women, threatened agrarian sector, takeover of indigenous forests by armed herdsmen and a general atmosphere of terror imposed on the people in their own land. It noted that while the people desire and are anxious to redefine their future and break the circle of anguish and agony, their capacity is limited within the context of democracy by corruption in the political process;
“These acts of corruption by a section of the political class disempower the people and exclude them from active participation in the political process that can lead to their freedom from a bleak and tortuous eclipse. The people are justifiably frustrated by a political and electoral system that offer little hope amidst violence, bribery and corruption in the electoral process, votes buying, complete lack of ideology all of which stifle the prospect of the best and most qualitative aspirants.”
The group noted that that since the false 1952 population census, the people have been at a great disadvantage, frustrated and marginalised through false population, false voters’ figures and consequent lowly voting power in Federal elections to the detriment of the people. This is also reflected in skewed delineation of wards as we have seen in the case of Warri Ward skewed against the Itsekiri people.
“Nigeria is afflicted by poor leadership vision or no vision at all, ineptitude, faith and ethnic based violence, aided and fueled by a section of the political class, terrorism and fading public hope.If the elections should hold in Nigeria, the people must thwart the plot of men of mischief and confront their future with a raw will and determination never before seen. The group said it will work with other progressive forces across the country to bring the best out of what remains of Nigeria