Only restructuring can guarantee Yoruba’s interest in Nigeria —Agoro
Dr Olapade Agoro, an Aladura patriarch, is the Owa’Tapa of Itapa-Ijesa, Osun State, and a former presidential candidate of the National Action Council. In this interview conducted by SULAIMAN OLANREWAJU, he speaks on the security situation in the South-West, and other pertinent issues. Excerpts:
WITH kidnapping becoming a daily occurrence in many parts of Yorubaland, it appears that herdsmen are closing in on the South West. How do you see this?
The question we the Yoruba should ask ourselves is that how serious, collective and together, is the Yoruba nation on commonality of approach to challenging issues of hard pressing concern to the interest of all? When was the last time that the Yoruba people collectively approached a national pressing issue and fought together for a common cause? Yes, where the matter concerns noise making to draw attention to self you will find some self-centered people of Yoruba jumping up. But no sooner than the negotiating table is laced with booties in particular naira, US dollars and juicy appointments, the kite is let off to fly to the divide to soft landing.
Please let me ask you when did the Fulani start marauding Yoruba land? Have they not been here with us since the days of old? Have they not established their colonies in our choice areas? Have they not married and taken our beautiful Yoruba girls as wives? Have we not opened our doors wide open for them to invade us? Have we not freely yielded our land to them? The issue before us now is the pertinence of our seriousness of purpose of collective approach to begging issues.
The undoing of the Yoruba is that basically a Yoruba man, especially if he has some means, lives for himself. He is not bothered about the challenges others are facing. We love our lives too much to allow anything to put us at risk. Unlike other people and tribes with one tongue and approach to matters of national concern, the Yoruba people are divided on national matters. Until we learn to speak with one voice and put the issues of the Yoruba nation above personal interest, we shall continue to be subjected to harrowing experiences at the hands of those who regard themselves as our overlords.
What should our governors be doing?
Taking this question on its seriousness it becomes pertinent to say that their Excellencies our state governors cannot do much than talk and talk on both sides of their mouths. They are politicians per se holding political offices under ambit of their oaths of offices in a federation with not well separated gambits. The truth must be said here that we are currently running a unitary form of government, not a federal system. In a unitary government, it is what the central government wants that gets done. So, the governors are in a strait; there is little they can do to protect their people from the hands of their adversaries though they go about with the title of being the chief security officers of their respective states.
Is there any role for traditional rulers in Yoruba land in this matter?
Thanks be to the Almighty God I am also a State of Osun government recognised Kabiyesi. I am the Owa’-Tapa of Itapa-Ijesa land but I never cease to realise that I hold my traditional office in honour of my state governor. The fact must be faced that no traditional ruler can play any role not allotted to him by the state governor. As I have always said, a traditional ruler is somewhat a glorified civil servant. The recent faceoff in Kano State between the highly respected Emir of Kano and his state governor should be a good lesson on where exactly the power lies. The Kabiyesi can only do what the state governors permit them to do. If, as we have established, the state governors cannot do much to protect their people from attacks, what can the Kabiyesi do other than to lament and complain and probably hope that one day, the constitution would be tweaked to give powers to the states?
The Agbekoya and Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) members say they can’t do anything to protect the people unless they have government’s backing. Given their antecedents, do they need the backing of the government to protect the people?
The fact is that given the present structure of the country, no sensible or reasonable person can do anything in terms of security without government’s backing. But having said that, I seriously doubt that the Agbekoya and the OPC, with their acclaimed metaphysical powers and acclaimed prowess, should wait for any government’s backing before showing the herdsmen and the entire world the powers the Yoruba people have. I see their claim of needing the backing of the government before deploying their metaphysical powers to protect the people as mere pretence. If they are as powerful as they claim they can fight the marauders without appearing to them physically. I know that their concern is the fear of being arrested by security agencies in the event that they kill the marauders, but with the kind of powers they lay claim to, they can attack without being seen. So, if indeed they are powerful, they should use their power to protect the people and stop playing to the gallery, asking for government’s approval.
Can our having state police help the matter?
It would be difficult to comment on what difference having a state police would have since it is impossible to tell the prowess capability of a child still in embryo. But anything that can give us a better result than the one we currently have would be a better option. If the consensus is that state police would be better, let’s give it a try.
Can you say the interest of the Yoruba nation is guaranteed in this federation?
The Yoruba people, being in this loose federation with no clearly spelt out specifics, cannot be said to have their interest guaranteed unless what they can work out for themselves as a people. The only thing that can guarantee the interest of the Yoruba people in the Nigerian arrangement is the restructuring of the polity that is when we can take our own destiny in our hands, that is when we can carve a desirable future for ourselves. As things are currently in Nigeria, the Yoruba nation is at the mercy of others, and that is not in our best interest.