Akintoye formally accepts selection as new Yoruba leader

promises to work with others to uphold, showcase Awo legacy

Foremost historian and writer, Professor Banji Akintoye, on Thursday formally accepted his endorsement as new Yoruba leader by some groups who met in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital recently, expressing his resolve to pursue the unity of the race in collaboration with various groups and leaders of the race, including the Afenifere.

Akintoye said “yes” to his endorsement at a press conference he addressed at the Airport Hotel, Ikeja and attended by leaders, including Dr Amos Akingba, Akogun Tola Adeniyi, Professor Ogundowole Kolawole, Chief Wale Adeniran, Otunba Deji Osibogun, Comrade Victor Taiwo, Otunba Sade Olukoya, among others.

The newly elected Yoruba leader, while observing the need for Yoruba to have a leader at this point in time, in the face of threat of ethnic cleansing going on in Nigeria in which “many of our people can no longer be sure of basic safety in their daily lives,” said he was of firm and unshakable conviction that what Yoruba nation needed most today “is our unity,  our unity and collective resolve to stand together in order to demonstrate to would-be invaders” that Yoruba would very definitively and decisively crush any invaders of their homeland just as it happened before in 1840.

“For our Yoruba nation at war, these are no times for any form of contention over anything whatsoever. We must not stumble into the mistake of even letting it seem as if we are disrespecting, despising, or jettisoning the forces and the persons that have been fighting in the Yoruba cause, or as if we despise and belittle the worried, distressed, and mostly young masses of our people. Doing either will hurt our Yoruba nation immeasurably and weaken us in the face of current dangers,” he warned.

Akintoye, who recalled his numerous past struggle in alliance with the leaders of groups, including the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Reuben Fashoranti and Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who he paid tributes to, assured that he and all others who would work with him would, in all things, uphold and showcase the Awolowo legacy as the noblest and proudest modern legacy of the Yoruba nation as he was “nurtured by his awesome hands.”

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He said, “I and all who will work with me will, in all things, uphold and showcase the Awolowo legacy as the noblest and proudest modern legacy of our Yoruba nation – the pure spring with the waters of which I was nurtured by his awesome hands.”

Professor Akintoye, while acknowledging his choice for the exalted position in the land and thanking the groups that made it possible, said he was humbled, adding that the duties required of his new office would take him “to tread a different path in the service of our nation.”

“However, I am confident, and I will do my very best to ensure, that the love, trust and respect that have existed between me and my long-time friends and associates will not only continue but will actually grow.

“We are very mature and experienced men leading a great nation that is going through very hard times and facing very potent threats. Moreover, we, individually and collectively, have the duty of helping our whole Yoruba nation’s political class to re-embrace the old Yoruba wisdom that not all things that are at variance are necessarily at enmity, and that persons who are working positively in widely different ways in society are all nevertheless serving the king.

“I absolutely desire to see strong solidarity among my Yoruba people, the nation which I have proudly shown to the world, through the best and most respectable historical scholarship at my disposal, as a great and proud nation of civilization builders in the world.

“Finally, while expressing my heartfelt gratitude to our brothers, sisters and organizations that met in Ibadan and adjudged me worthy of their consideration, I perceive that the real meaning and intention of your action was to serve on me a special clarion call to rise to sharply increased levels of intensity and quality of servanthood to our nation in the things that you have hitherto seen me doing and more, things over some of which very many of you have fruitfully worked with me,” Akintoye stated.

Speaking on his agenda, Akintoye, noted that the “very important fact that Yoruba people of 40 years of age and under constitute about 74% of the total population of all of us Yoruba people in Nigeria today,” and constitute large masses of mostly educated younger people who were “seriously impatient for change” as they were under stress, reiterating that the real intention of those who gathered in Ibadan to elect him as Yoruba Leader was to serve on him a special clarion call on the need to rise up to current challenges facing the race.

Akintoye, a historian, while promising to publish more books on Nigerian nation, and would encourage others to write more books on the country, said he would in collaboration with the state government, groups and individuals “give encouragement and assistance to, the tens of organizations that are standing up for the defence of our Yoruba nation and the protection and promotion of our nation’s interests.”

“We shall commit ourselves to all efforts to move our Yoruba people forward and upwards again in the direction that would revive their vitality, their enterprising character, their creative energy, their love of elegance, and their love of sensitive, dutiful and decent leadership and governance.

“We shall commit to fostering and promoting ideas and agendas that will open wide doors of opportunities to our youths and our women. We shall commit ourselves to serious efforts to forge the quality of Yoruba unity and morality that will impart serious strength, confidence, sense of national oneness, and sense of duty, to our people – to the Yoruba farmer on his or her farm, the Yoruba worker in his or her place of work, the Yoruba entrepreneur and businessperson creating or managing a business in the daunting terrain of Nigeria, the Yoruba teachers and their students in our educational institutions, the Yoruba trader in her trading, the Yoruba craftsman in his workshop, etc.

“We commit ourselves to relating and interacting positively, without discrimination, with the Yoruba politician, the electedYoruba public official and professional bureaucrat at every level of government in Nigeria, the governments of all our Yoruba states, and the governments of our LGAs, all to the end that they will all consciously employ their positions, their power and their influence for uplifting, uniting, empowering and enriching our Yoruba nation.

“We shall evolve a powerful drive for arousing our state governments and our people to revive our endangered Yoruba language and to revive the teaching of our nation’s history to our children in our schools. We shall, with respect and family love, encourage our current State Governors to write their names in gold in our nation’s history by pursuing great transformational programs– such as skills development and entrepreneurial development programs for our youths; programs for promoting computer literacy; for promoting the use of solar energy and other alternative energy sources; for transforming our cities to internet-smart cities; for evolving dynamic knowledge hubs in our cities; for promoting modern agriculture; for encouraging among our people a culture of reading, and a culture of inventions.

“We shall commit our energies to serious efforts at galvanizing our people in the Diaspora towards employing their power, influence and resources to assert more impact on the struggles and development of our nation back home in our homeland. In summary, we are ambitious to encourage our already highly educated nation to arise and join the ranks of the highest and best nations in the world,” he said.

Speaking further, the new Yoruba leader contended that his whole perception of the leadership of today’s Yoruba nation shall be that it does not interfere with partisan politics and politicians, but one that encourages the whole nation and its leading citizens to strive bravely for excellence, prosperity and power, and towards the true national destiny of the nation.

“Our whole perception of the leadership of today’s Yoruba nation shall be that it does not interfere with partisan politics and politicians, but that it encourages our whole nation and its leading citizens to strive bravely for excellence, prosperity and power, and towards the true national destiny of our nation.

“In all activities, therefore, I personally commit myself to continuing as resolutely non-partisan as I have been for decades, and to join, support or oppose no political party, so that I may be able to move and communicate without inhibition among all our people, towards the advancement of our Yoruba positions and goals in Nigeria, and towards enhanced progress, prosperity and the right destiny for our Yoruba nation.

“In all directions, our resolute thrust must be that we Yoruba people fully and definitively reject the mindset of the underdog, and the treatment as an underdog, in the affairs of Nigeria, and that we stride boldly forward to assert our strength, our dignity, and our dominance.

“We Yoruba are the people of the light, and we must now make that clear, and demonstrate it unambiguously, to Nigeria and the world.

“With God blessing our efforts and our nation, we can, and we shall accomplish all these goals.”

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