Yoruba World Congress not part of Consultative Forum
By Prof. Banji Akintoye, President (Yoruba World Congress, YWC)
The news broke on Wednesday July 1st 2020 that some members of the Nigerian elite had formed a new organization with the name National Consultative Forum. The news listed the Secretary General of our Yoruba World Congress, Prof. Anthony Kila, as a participant and facilitator in the formation of the group. According to its communique, the new group purposes to engage in a large number of steps towards improving the quality of Nigeria`s leadership, management and governance, and intends to form a Nigerian political party to accomplish these goals.
The fact that the name of Prof. Tony Kila, Secretary General of the Yoruba World Congress, appeared among the creators of this new Nigerian initiative immediately aroused serious reactions among members of the Yoruba World Congress, both in Nigeria and in the Diaspora. Many of the reactions converged directly on me as President of the Yoruba World Congress. As President, I asked members to give me time to look into this matter, and especially to ask Prof. Kila to come and see me about it.
Prof Kila came to see me at 3pm today, July 2nd. When I faced him with this development, he was sincerely surprised that it was causing such serious reactions among his people in the Yoruba World Congress. He said that he had not informed me before participating in the meeting of the new group because he had not thought that it was that important. That since the conveners of the new group had informed him that only 20 choice persons were being invited, he thought they were inviting him partly because he was well known as having no interest whatsoever in Nigerian partisan politics, partly because of his personal image in the society, and partly because of his well known high position as Secretary General of the Yoruba World Congress. He had been proud to accept their invitation because he saw it as a recognition of his person and a recognition of the importance of the Yoruba World Congress. Because the group had been generally strongly critical of Nigeria, he had not perceived any conflict between their ideas and the ideas of the Yoruba World Congress – in fact he has thought that the ideas of the Yoruba World Congress could easily be propagated among the group.
He concluded that he was sorry to have provoked such troubling ripples in the Yoruba World Congress. He wanted to assure his people that he was unwaveringly committed to the goals and programs of the Yoruba World Congress. He asked me to urge his fellow members in the Yoruba World Congress to forgive this incident and to continue to give him their brotherliness and confidence. And he urged me as father of all, to communicate these responses of his to the whole Yoruba World Congress family, and to bring this situation to a satisfactory solution by issuing this statement on my behalf and his.
I have the duty of adding the following observations. First, from my knowledge of Prof. Kila, I have no doubt that he was truthful and sincere in the above responses to me on July 02. Secondly, since his election as Secretary General of the Yoruba World Congress, he has profoundly impressed me as a truly dedicated worker for the Yoruba World Congress and the Yoruba nation’s future. I have been impressed by his ability to take the Yoruba struggle to very high levels of conceptualization, and his ability to recognize that the Yoruba World Congress is not merely struggling for a Yoruba sovereign nation state but, more importantly, for a Yoruba nation state that will quickly surprise the world with its high quality of leadership, cultural authenticity, and exceptionality in development and modernization. Some of his proposals and creations have, in fact, been wonderful. For instance, he is currently setting up, in our YWC National Secretariat in Ibadan, a Yoruba Library (a library of books on the Yoruba nation) and, as he conceives it, this is likely to become the largest collection of books on the Yoruba nation in the world. Various people are already so excited about this that they are already donating books to it. Furthermore, I am aware that we are dealing here with a man who is not a beginner in the Yoruba struggle but who has been sincerely passionate about the Yoruba nation’s sovereignty from his youth. I know that in the 1990s he wrote a book passionately espousing Yoruba strength and national qualities (a book originally written in Italian and later translated to English), and that, a few years ago, he wrote another book on a significant aspect of Yoruba cultural strength. I know also that Tony Kila has been quietly giving personal financial donations to purchase important assets for the Yoruba World Congress. For instance, some of the most expensive of the furniture in our International Headquarters in Lagos are gifts from him – though he does not like to talk about it. We in the Yoruba World Congress have been evolving a new culture that is very different from the culture of most civic organizations. It is a culture of giving and personal sacrifice to the cause we believe in, rather of going around begging for donations from all and sundry. Depending on ourselves, from me as President all the way down to some of our humblest members, we have, from our own giving, contributed a lot to the funding of our programs and to assistance to our members’ programs. Tony Kila, as our Secretary General and as one of our financially most resourceful members, has earned himself some distinction as one of our foremost givers. These facts are very easily verifiable.
But I also have the duty of adding that I have had the chance of listening to some serious members of the Yoruba World Congress on this development. In particular, I am grateful for the seriousness with which two of our Chapters handled this matter – namely, our United Kingdom Chapter, and our emerging Chapter of Women Leaders. Members of our United Kingdom Chapter, men and women who are highly experienced professionals and highly respected society leaders, were very incisive in their comments. So also were our Women Leaders, also experienced professionals and society leaders with much knowledge of on-going undercurrents in Nigerian politics. In addition to these, some other organizations that are members of the Yoruba World Congress have called me to say that Prof. Kila’s membership of the Nigerian Consultative Forum, even though he says it is only a personal affair, is not possible to combine with the high position of Secretary General of the Yoruba World Congress. All of this is about the Yoruba people’s expectations of highest integrity in the service of the Yoruba World Congress, and later, in the service of the new Yoruba country. Having spent more than a century learning in Nigeria the horrible lesson of “how not to run the affairs of a country” or “how to run a country to failure”, the leadership of the Yoruba nation from now on, as promoted and projected by the Yoruba World Congress, must be firmly demanded to be focused, disciplined and integrity-driven. Most informed leaders and members of the Yoruba World Congress are fiercely demanding that the Yoruba World Congress leadership must show that it knows that, in Chief Awolowo’s titanic achievements of the 1950s, though knowledge and competence were important, the more important factors were uncompromising focus, discipline and integrity. In short, the future and the promise of greatness of the Yoruba nation demand a clear choice of direction away from the mud-waddling that characterizes Nigeria’s elite behavior and the inevitable Nigerian slide into retrogression, anarchy and disintegration. As a Yoruba song would put it, they sang a particular song in a great house once before and it made the house burst into flames and totally burn down; we must never sing that song in our new house.
I would summarize the inputs from all these prestigious sources as follows: First, in the list of the names in the group which invited Prof. Kila to the Nigerian National Consultative Forum, there are some persons who are so dedicated to the preservation of Nigeria and to their own personal shares in Nigeria, that, in their calculations, they can only see a powerful, bounding and ascendant movement like the Yoruba World Congress and its informed and disciplined focus on fighting for a sovereign Yoruba nation, as dangerous to the cause of preserving Nigeria, and therefore as a danger that needs to be weakened by subtle means. Respectfully and successfully inviting and including the Secretary General of the Yoruba World Congress into a body like the National Consultative Forum would, undoubtedly, begin a major weakening of the Yoruba World Congress and its vision and mission for the Yoruba nation.
In final summary, I would say that what I am hearing from the Yoruba World Congress at all levels is that we all love and admire Prof. Kila as one of our own, and as one of our most competent leaders, but that our family message to him is that he should immediately dissociate himself from the National Consultative Forum, because the thrust and goal of the National Consultative Forum are not only radically different from those of the Yoruba World Congress, but are a repudiation of the thrust and goal of the Yoruba World Congress. A Secretary General of the Yoruba World Congress cannot possibly find any suitable abode in a Nigerian political party, political party in the making, aspiring political party, or elite group focused on Nigeria. We Yoruba do not necessarily reject the classical liberal posture, but we are in a desperate struggle to rediscover our nation’s true self, to revive our nation’s true self, and to retrieve our nation’s true self. For us, that is the mission and the task of the moment. And we cannot allow any cloud to confuse our vision of the road ahead.
I must now do my duty as father by urging all of our members and leaders that if our brother informs us that he has returned fully home from the brief Nigerian elite trip, that he has given up the Nigerian group that he stepped into, and that he has come fully and unreservedly back into our kind of struggle for our Yoruba nation, we his brethren will receive him in all love and confidence. There is no doubt that the events of these past two days have considerably eroded confidence in him, but I urge that, from these early stages of our march to our nation’s future greatness, we must learn to be good at rallying the whole family in – and at giving second chances. Human history is replete with persons who are given second chances and who thereafter go on to excel.
The most important fall-out from this situation is that it has given us all a good opportunity to learn some important things. For instance, it is obvious now that the argument in our recent Constitutional Committee over whether or not we should have a standing Disciplinary Committee to handle disciplinary issues has now resolved itself. Sure, we must have a Standing Disciplinary Committee.
In the end, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Olodumare, the Creator of our Yoruba nation, and the enabler of our Yoruba nation’s civilization and unique prosperity throughout our history, for giving us this wonderful opportunity to enunciate some important part of the principles and rules of our Yoruba nation’s leadership and path forward from now on and for all the future.