First published February 2, 2018
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, this is the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Hear it and it shall be well with you and by implication, the Global Yoruba Nation.
You are arguably the most effective political leader of the Yoruba Nation today, regardless of any assumptions as a pan-Nigerian leader. You are engaged in a life and death struggle with the forces of darkness ravaging Nigeria. It must be restated that the fortunes of Yoruba Nation as a major factor in Global African Emancipation is not limited to Nigeria’s geo-political confines and therefore cannot be constrained by it.
You must know that historically, all efforts at mixing the fortunes of the Yoruba with that of the Nigerian colonial architecture had always ended up in a misfortune for the Yoruba. And it is not fortuitous that the only manifestation of our potentials was through the attainment of Autonomous Self-Government between 1951 and 1959. This is not an advocacy for a Yoruba National Purity. Our history testifies to this, where it is on record that we are a welcoming and tolerant people, very liberal to non-Yoruba people and proved by our existentialism, where, traditionally, the Oba was (and is) the guarantor of the non-Yoruba rights and freedoms in his domain.
Despite these, all attempts to dissolve our particularities into Nigerian generalities have always ended disastrously. The famous and popular Afonja story powerfully illuminates this. Afonja was not a Muslim; yet he provided Ilorin as a haven for Muslims from the northern part of what later became Nigeria, partly because of his own strategic impulse at the then power-play in Yorubaland. These northern Muslims were intent on ramming their own brand of Islam through Yoruba throats although Islam predated their arrival in Yorubaland. The resistance to this brand of Islam led to their being regarded as violent interlopers in the land upon which Afonja formally declared Ilorin a place of respite for them. Despite this, they went ahead and destroyed Afonja and the Yoruba Nation lost Ilorin and environs to northern Muslim political control, which has continued till date.
M.K.O Abiola spent a large part of his financial fortunes in pursuit of Islamic development in the North, again, within a strategic political objective. Northern Muslims voted massively for him but when the time came to take up a stand against the then looming military shenanigans, they balked, largely because another “northern” Muslim would take over power. They famously refused to be part of the pan-Nigerian coalition against the annulment of a fellow Muslim’s election thereby leaving the opposition to only the Yoruba, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
In both instances, Nationality prerogatives trumped religious solidarity; therefore, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, while you do not play up your religious affiliations, you must recognize the role of Nationality in any quest for political power in Nigeria. While this is true for all the major political organizations in the country, for the South, especially the Yoruba, it has been relegated to the background as a factor in Self-Determination, which is why Yoruba National Imperatives become confused with a pan-Nigerian agenda, all in the name of developing Nigeria into a modern geo-political entity. Yet, for the North, it is its raison d’etre; that is, controlling the center is its own end.
50 years after political Independence in Africa, the colonial architecture cannot engender any form of development for her various Peoples. Rather, the continent becomes merely a playground for International economic forces with a capability to reproduce its own internal elites for continuation of its economic hegemony while her hapless Peoples continue to wallow in deep material poverty as well as of consciousness.
Sustaining this economic playground requires a political façade, often procured through periodic cycle of elections usually dubbed as democracy, where victors in all African countries seem to have only one prescription for Africa’s development, which is always foreign investment, foreign investment and foreign investment supposedly aimed at creating jobs for the youths coupled with finely woven words on economic development. Yet, none of these African countries have been able to translate any of these into reality.
This is so, because the political agenda is yet to be fulfilled; such agenda being the imposition of one Ethno-Nationality over the others to bring about the homogenization of the cultures into one under the suzerainty of the other. This is the cause of inter-Nationality conflicts on the continent where one colonially-favored Nationality will seek to impose its status on the rest and the cycle of violence goes on while the post-colonial state continues its economic parasitism unmolested.
Obafemi Awolowo attempted to reverse this phenomenon by combining the best of capitalist development and its social imperatives with a decidedly YORUBA world view. He also attempted to introduce this paradigm into the rest of Nigeria, with each Nationality/Culture as its own paradigm and the story of what happened to him is very well known. However, among the Yoruba, there is the continuous debate as to whether he should have “gone to the center or not” with differing answers. The bottom line is that Yoruba Nation became a victim of Nigeria’s post-colonial State architecture thus posing the problematic differently. It is not about going to the center or not, but the anti-colonial imperative of coming into being of the Yoruba Nation as a Nation for, and in itself. This was the rationale behind the agitation for True Federalism anchored on Ethno-Lingual Categories.
Nigeria’s forces of darkness will avoid going for your jugular, that is, your physical annihilation lest you become another icon in the mold of Awo and MKO. But they will attempt to decapitate you with a debilitating strike, physically and politically, regardless of any number of your “private” meetings with the effective leader of APC and its presumed 2019 presidential candidate.
This has started in earnest and it is not subtle, it is a “roforofo” fight. To your credit, you will not give up easily as doing so is not your habit; you will fight with all your strength, but you need to change the narrative. You need to change the name of the game. Your strength, that is, political savviness, strategic impulses, historical astuteness will not lead to victory, and by implication, victory for the Yoruba Nation. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, you must identify the golden bullet for victory. It is already available, waiting to be picked up.
The victory does not lie in aiming for Nigeria’s presidency, so this is not a matter of a new coalition for power and certainly does not lie in retaining Nigeria’s current political and economic formations.
Self-Determination/Autonomy for all the Peoples of Nigeria is the key. Any form of Southern/Middle Belt solidarity, any handshake across Eastern or Northern Niger, MUST be anchored on Self-Determination/Autonomy for ALL, lest it becomes a route to your political decapitation mentioned above. Perchance others may foot-drag, the Yoruba Nation must not be carried along that route. The Yoruba Nation does not need to wait on them before pushing ahead. And that is the golden bullet.