A Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo state, Honourable Rotimi Ajanaku says the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is the key factor in the actualization of Yoruba unity and 2023 presidential agenda. BAYO AGBOOLA, brings excerpts.
In the unfolding political and economic evolution in Nigeria, do you see the Yoruba nation occupying any serious office come 2023?
It is important that we prioritize Yoruba agenda over our personal ambition so as to make Oduduwa land great again. Our focus should be how to grow and develop the economy of the South-west region, improve the standard of living of every citizen of Oduduwa nation. We shouldn’t be quick to forget that this region is the home of every first in Nigeria, even in Africa.
Every socio-cultural and civil society group should assume the responsibility of fostering peace among the inhabitants of Oduduwa land and lend great support to the masses, especially the underprivileged. This is what Yoruba Progressive Foundation (YPF) has been offering, granting interest-free loans to market women in Yoruba land to ease the burden associated with loans from microfinance organisations for them. Even the capital will not be paid back to YPF’s account but kept in the account of the Market Women Association for recycling.
YPF is founded by Oduduwa children in USA with the aim of giving back to the society that made them and is worthy of emulation by everyone. In fact, their action is a challenge to us all. Every great movement starts with extraordinary people, everyone should aspire to be one of the great people that will return Yoruba land to enviable position. My love for Oodua states and the masses, especially the underprivileged in the society, take pre-eminence over my political stand or ambition. I wouldn’t be surprised if I find my political associates and friends on the opposite side or they fail to be on the same page with me on some issues raised here. The Yoruba remains the game changer and decider.
But the Yoruba may not speak with one voice due to political and other differences?
Yes, I agree to an extent, but it is normal to disagree on issues. However, that does not mean they cannot unite. Leaders of Yoruba states should come together to work out how they can help each state to maximize its areas of comparative advantage. Implement the Land Use Act, control the influx of outsiders, who have turned Yoruba land to residential region, perhaps due to insecurity they constantly experienced in their region. These have kept acquiring every available land to build estates, mansions and institutions. The idea is to kill agriculture in Yoruba land. Should the Yoruba put his house together, the race will become a threat to many nations in the world considering the quality of its natural and human resources, agricultural prowess, rich culture.
The Yoruba is the ionic bond binding together all regions in Nigeria, keeping Nigeria together as a nation. We should not allow ourselves to be manipulated by dubious and selfish politicians who use religion, tribalism and politics, to perpetrate their evil agenda. States in Oduduwa land should emulate the current religious leaders in Oyo state, whose relationships have been very exceptional and noteworthy. The cooperation between the leadership of the two notable religions, especially the chairman of the state chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Benjamin Akanmu and Aare Musulumi of Yoruba land, Edo and Delta, is bringing development to the state and fostering peace among the faithful of the two religions.
Recently, some contested Asiwaju Tinubu as the leader of the Yoruba, don’t you think this could impact negatively on the Yoruba presidential agenda for 2023?
Tinubu is an indispensable catalyst to the actualisation of Yoruba’s agenda in 2023 and beyond. As Asiwaju Odo Oodua (Oodua Youths Leader), it becomes imperative that I speak on issues affecting Oodua states and Oodua agenda ahead of 2023. Other issues include unwarranted discussion on Tinubu’s presidential ambition and subsequent attacks on his person by some uninformed people and those planted by enemies to drawback the progress and advancement of the South-west region. Or can anyone tell me the essence of teaming up against Tinubu when no one has actually established any of the baseless allegations raised by his accusers?
The agitations against Tinubu, especially now when the Yoruba ought to work together for the realisation of its projection in 2023, is unwarranted. It is against the spirit of our ancestors. Let me ask you a question, should we allow few politicians to deprive Yoruba of our right just because of differences or rancour between them and Tinubu? How sure are we that it is not a case of envy, rivalry, or jealousy? I am not against the idea of criticising Tinubu, but there is need to make whatever criticism constructive. We shouldn’t tolerate baseless and damaging criticisms at this time. Tinubu is the Generallisimo of the South-west. So a personality so relevant like Tinubu should be protected from political termites, those looking for cheap means of gaining popularity and subsequently getting their pockets loaded with dollars from their paymasters.
Some of Tinubu’s accusers are not legitimate Oduduwas, some are planted to destroy the Oduduwa structure like the case of Afonja-Alimi rebellion in Ilorin. Some are envious of his achievements and his political strength. We have some people who are bereft of ideas. In the past few weeks, spate of reckless and malicious falsehoods, defamatory and misleading statements, have been peddled in the media against Asiwaju Tinubu by various cliques.
Tinubu is a political philosopher, who knows what he wants, and how to get it. He picks the best brains from every family or community in Yoruba land and beyond, put them on queue for grooming, uses his machinery to get them to enviable positions in Nigeria. He believes it’s a cycle that must continue to grow. But, unfortunately after assuming exalted positions, some of his so-called boys or political sons believed they have what it takes to tackle him in order to plant their successor.
The idea is to break the circle and deprive some families that are on the queue to benefit from the ‘cycle of progress’. These are people who ordinarily couldn’t have won election to state House of Assembly not to talk of higher positions. They might be professionally competent but even in their chosen careers they were struggling for recognition before Tinubu picked them. Besides, professional competency hasn’t any value in the dictate of the swinging of political pendulum. Some hate Tinubu for his political dominance and progression, while some say he controls economy of any state where he has influence.
This is arguable, base on the fact that most of the people helped so far by Tinubu are not his immediate family. Tinubu, in my own view, is lifting up Oduduwa sons and daughters, supporting them to occupy influential positions in Nigeria. He believes it’s the appropriate way to develop Yoruba land and keep the economic power in the South-west. After all, the North already has political power, so having economic power reside in the South should never be a crime.
Another group of people are criticizing Tinubu for his closeness to the president. They see Fulani/Hausa as their enemies, accused them of constantly betraying the Yoruba. But as a realist, I have a contrary view to the belief that the Hausa/Fulani have for long been betraying Yoruba, rather I see Yoruba problem as a case of enemies within the Yoruba.
Yoruba has always been used against their brothers from the onset. Who failed Awolowo? It was our people that betrayed Chief Awolowo in his struggle to become the president of Nigeria. How about MKO Abiola, if Gen Ibrahim Babangida can be bold enough to mention names of those that advised against his handling over to Chief Abiola we won’t be surprised that the Yoruba will dominate the list. Babangida knew Chief Abiola won the election, he wanted to handover to him but there were some cabals who had helped Babangida in the past and he had to obey them by yielding to their demand. Who were these people? The Yoruba, no wonder, he said, “my hands are tight”.
The betrayal of Yoruba leaders in the past by the Northerners was successfully carried out because the battle was lost right from home. Bi’ku ile o ba pa’ni t’ode o le pa’ni; eyinkule l’ota wa, inu ile l’aseni un gbe (it’s enemy within that aided enemy from outside). There could be some sensitive information manipulated by rivals within the Yoruba to discourage the Northerners from trusting the Yoruba. Same is going on now and it must be arrested if we are sincere about our Yoruba agenda for 2023.
Do you think it can be realise in 2023 without the Yoruba traditional rulers playing crucial roles?
As custodians of culture, tradition, moral values and beliefs, the Yoruba Obas should be upright in the protection, defense and promotion of Oduduwa territory and inhabitants. This is the more reason why I’m of the opinion that our royal fathers should stay clear from politics to enable them judiciously play the role of fathers and leaders as expected of them without favourism.
If Yoruba agenda will be achieved in 2023, the traditional rulers in Yoruba land have great responsibility of supporting the re-conciliatory idea of His Imperial Majesty, Oba Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ife, who, since his coronation as Ooni of Ife, has commenced strategic reconciliation processes to broker peace between Yoruba personalities or group and ensure every issue or conflict is genuinely resolved. This he has successfully done in many occasions, his interest and love in protecting Oduduwa.