Some Yoruba indigenes who are domiciled in North America have resolved to give back to their region by sponsoring people-oriented projects that will enhance the living standard and growth of people in the south west. AKIN ADEWAKUN who had an interaction with members of the group concerning their intention concerning what they termed “Yoruba Unity Summit” scheduled for later part of the year, reports.
Organised by a pressure group, Egbe Omo Yoruba, in the North America, the president of the association, Agbaakin Bolu Omodele, observed that the Summit becomes imperative since the South West region no longer enjoys its pride of place among other regions in the country.
He identified lack of unity among the Yoruba as one of the factors militating against the progress of the average Yoruba man.
Besides, he argued, some of the trades the region was known for in the past had suddenly disappeared, with the average youth in the region frantically searching for jobs that are nowhere to be found.
As part of its efforts at contributing to the restoration of the region’s past glories, Agbaakin Omodele disclosed that the organisation had concluded arrangements to hold The World Yoruba Summit in Ibadan in October 2016 with a view to sensitising the Yoruba nation on the need to have a united force. The group also identified the need for economic empowerment of the youth as the leaders of tomorrow and a vital component of the repositioning plan.
Tagged Yoruba Renaissance: Understanding Our Past fora better future, the summit, which is expected to feature individuals of Yoruba descent, both within the shores of the country and in the diaspora, according to him, will hold at the University of Ibadan between October 17 and 22.
He noted that the association, which was founded as a result of the unexpected annulment of the June 12 election in 1993, decided to organise the summit to promote Yoruba unity and empower the youth.
Agbaakin Omodele expressed grave concern over what he termed the self-centred attitude of the present Yoruba leaders toward issues of general interest and their unbridled concern for financial gain.
He, however, disclosed that the group had been able to interface and win the support of some notable Yoruba leaders, who are equally concerned about lack of unity among the Yoruba, and are also interested in arresting the situation.
He expressed the organisation’s belief that such a big platform like the proposed Ibadan summit will help leaders of thoughts in Yoruba land to come together and identify challenges facing the people, with a move to chart a new path for the development of the nation.
‘23 years after we formed the association with record of involvements in some national discourse, we have decided to move in at this critical period of our country to address issues relating to unity.
‘We have not had any meeting in Nigeria since then, that is why we are convening a world summit of all Yoruba people in October in Ibadan. I stand to be corrected but the truth is that we have discovered over time that the Yoruba are not as united as our counterparts from the Northern part of the country.
‘It appears that our leaders are more concerned about personal gains in the power game. We members of Egbe Omo Yoruba in North America now think there is urgent need for us to bring our people together to talk about our unity, our culture and those inherent values deposited in us by Almighty God that will help us speak with one voice. We believe the best thing to do is to allow our collective interest to override our individual interest,’ he said.
In his remarks, a former president of the association, Agbaakin Adeola Odusanya, appreciated the new Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, whom he said, had, since assuming office, been campaigning for the unity of the Yoruba race.
He also commended one of the nation’s former Presidents and a notable figure in the South West region, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whom he described as a source of inspiration for the association.
Obasanjo, he said, had advised members of the association to come to the country to galvanise their people on the need to have a united force, during one of the former president’s visits to the United States.
He expressed the hope that in spite of the precarious situation that the Yoruba nation has presently found itself, there is still hope with supports coming from eminent citizens of the region.
According to him, the Ife monarch is fully aware that the Yoruba cannot get anywhere without a united voice. He pointed out that with such a royal father as a chief campaigner, members of Egbe Omo Yoruba believe that they could add their voice at this critical period in the nation’s socio-political life to bring Yoruba together and address salient issues that would help reposition the Yoruba nation.
To make the impact of the summit felt across the region, and even outside the shores of the country, Agbaakin Adeola stated that the group was mobilising the Yoruba in the diaspora, especially in Cuba, Brazil, Republic of Benin and other places to assemble for the summit and participate effectively.
He also stated that the leadership of the association will continue to go round to meet more traditional rulers, leaders of thought and top government functionaries in the South-West to impress on them the importance of buying into the summit.
He, however, noted that though the organisation was set up to further Yoruba interests, the group is not aversed to interactions from other socio-cultural organisaations in the country too.
‘Before now, we have been having our annual conventions in the United States and we have been working closely with other organisations like the Igbo Union and the Sumunta, which is the umbrella body of the northerners in the US.
On the possibility of the Summit being hijacked by politicians for selfish interest, the Publicity Secretary of the association, Mrs. Sola Yusuf-Aiwinnilomo, said the funding of the summit is restricted to members’ donation and support from individuals, who share their dream.
Giving information into how the association was formed, Aiwinnilomo described it as a product of the injustice that heralded the annulment of the June 12 elections, believed to have been won by a frontline Yoruba man, Chief Moshood Abiola.
‘Two decades ago, the Yoruba in the United States of America came together following the unjust annulment of the June 12 Presidential election, which was believed to have been overwhelmingly won by late Moshood Abiola, a Yoruba leader.
‘Egbe Omo Yoruba was established 23 years ago following what happened after the June 12 general elections. That was when it occurred to us that Yorubas in America should come together as one. Prior to then, there were Yoruba Organisations in North America.
‘But as a result of the annulment, the national body called Egbe Omo Yoruba, North America – EOYNA, which is the National Association of Yoruba Descendants in North America, was established.
‘The organisation is the umbrella organisation of all Yoruba Organisations in USA and Canada. Our mission is to promote the unity, progress, and empowerment of The Yoruba people in USA and Canada for peaceful co-existence based on justice for all,’ she stated.
Throwing more light in the empowerment programme, which is part of the Summit, the Publicity Secretary said the summit will create a forum for workshop on empowerment, where youths will be given orientation on how they can invest and double such investments.
‘We want to use the workshop to galvanise the youth to be agents of change. We want our people to support federal government move on job creation and economic diversification. The truth is that we have many of our people out there who have no clue about how to create wealth. This is one area where the Igbos are better and that is why we want to nurture entrepreneurs among our people.
‘We are sad that we have many graduates out there doing nothing. For instance, we are in Ibadan recently at a local cafeteria and we saw a young man next door making shoes without any modern technology. We reasoned instantly and imagined what such a guy could contribute to the economy if given the needed encouragement,’ she stated.
Expressing her optimism that the Summit would be a huge success, Aiwinnilomo disclosed that the Summit has started receiving support from individuals and even royal fathers in the land.
One of such support, she stated, is a donation of some hectares of land, by the monarch of Ile Oluji, the Jegun of Ile Oluji kingdom, Oba Oluwole Adetimehin, for agricultural purposes in the town.