A socio-cultural organisation, the Yoruba Welfare Group (YWG), last week met with leadership of the Yoruba and Hausa communities in Ibadan, Oyo State, to broker peace and also forestall what may lead to further loss of lives and property.
The YWG preached peace and unity, saying both tribes who have the noble culture of accommodation and enviable hospitality and who have lived together for centuries need each other to survive.
It will be recalled that a week ago, a minor disagreement between a Yoruba woman and a Hausa-speaking Nigerien man triggered an ethnic clash between the Yoruba host and the Hausa settlers, resulting in loss of lives, razing of the market and houses as well as massive looting of goods in the market.
The popular Shasha food and vegetable market is situated in Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State.
Addressing both the Baale (the traditional ruler) of Shasha and the Seriki (head) of the Hausas in their respective palaces, the national president of the group, Mr Abdulhakeem Adegoke-Alawuje, said the Hausa and the Yoruba had become so intertwined through intermarriages and interactions that have spanned centuries, urging Nigerians not allow politicians to use them against one another.
Adegoke-Alawuje claimed that politicians could not survive without crises and warned the citizens, particularly Yorubas, not to allow their territory to be used as a battle ground.
“We are on a peace mission and our intervention is pure reconciliation. When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. In fact, the grass might not even survive after all.
“In Nigeria, when you move out of the North, the only place you see Northerners living comfortably, settled en masse and in large number, is Yorubaland. Correspondingly, when you move out of Yorubaland, the only place you see Yorubas living comfortably, settled en masse and in large number, is the North. Definitely, we must not keep quiet when something like this is happening between the Northerners and Westerners. We must come in and seek peace,” he said.
Adegoke-Alawuje, who explained that the main objective of the Yoruba Welfare Group is the over all wellbeing of all Yorubas across the world, berated some elders who he said were clandestinely supporting killings and insurrection in the land, saying such disposition smacks of shortsightedness that puts Yorubas living in other regions in danger.
“As Yoruba Welfare Group, we are concerned because this crisis is taking place in Yoruba land. We believe Nigerria must remain one and we must live as brothers. We must ensure that we prevent a recurrence by finding lasting solution to the misunderstanding. It is politics that divides us into groups. Our relationship should resume and be better than before. Reconciliation, peace and tranquility in our land are essential to us. Without them, there cannot be any meaningful development.
The YWG president, said he had spent 35 years of his life in the North, noting that the number of Yorubas living in the North is more than the population of Ondo, Ekiti and Osun states put together, hence, the need for caution.
Speaking at the Seriki’s palace, Adegoke-Alawuje, on behalf of the entire Yoruba race, commiserated with the Hausa community regarding the avoidable loss of lives and property. He promised that the YWG would do all within its reach to appeal to all the aggrieved to sheathe their swords.
He said no Yoruba has the right to eject any Hausa or even Igbo. “Rather what Yorubas are saying is that criminals, bandits and kidnappers should leave their land. We should rather live together as one and jointly battle the criminals to a standstill, without harming or shedding the blood of the innocent,” he stated.
Also speaking at the Baale’s palace, another member of the group, Sheikh AbdulFatai Thanni, noted that unseen forces from within and outside the country are interested in breaking the country and Nigerians must not play into their hands.
“They tried it with Boko Haram in the North East, they failed, and they are presently trying it with banditry and kidnapping in the North West. They tried it in the East with IPOB, they are failing. They tried it with EndSARS in Lagos, their wish was to burn down Lagos in October, they failed. And going by the experience of the First Republic, these forces are aware that Ibadan is the most sensitive city in the South West. Once we allow their evil experiment to succeed and flourish in Ibadan, that will be the end of Nigeria. We should therefore not allow this to happen us in Yoruba land.
“Yorubas were arguably the most civilised nation before the advent of the colonial masters. It is not by error that the colonial masters prefered to settle in Yoruba land, ahead of other regions. It is because they found civilisation and civility here. Subsequently, all other tribes strive to get civilisation here.
“So, Yoruba is like sugar that attracts ants. Sugar should not get angry because it is natural for it to attract the ants. Only the recalcitrant ants should be gently removed without destroying the sugar. Therefore, Yorubas should not allow it’s land to be a battle ground by the destructive enemies,” Sheikh Thanni said.
While addressing the Seriki, Thanni, who remarked that one of his wives is from Sokoto, said the only solution to the shenanigans of Shaytan (the Devil) is unity as typified by a statement: La ilaha illa Llahu (there is no god but Allah) – this is a statement of unity that unifies all mankind.
He then prayed that the market would not become history so that the livelihoods of the residents of the community are not hampered.
Responding, the Baale of Shasha Community, Chief Hamza Akinade, said the two tribes had agreed to sheathe swords and were ready to reopen the market.
He blamed the crisis which engulfed the market on greed, saying some mischief makers within both tribes were bent on destroying the market in order to get it relocated.
“The government and the leadership of both communities are on top of the situation and we are ready to embrace peace and live peacefully with our brothers from the North. We do not want the government to nurse the idea of relocating this market. We don’t want them to play politics with the market,” he said.
Addressing the delegation of the YWG, the Seriki of the Hausa community in Shasha, Mallam Haruna Mai Yasin, walked down the memory lane, narrating how how the site of the market was allocated to the Hausa community in 1979, a development meant to avoid frequent clashes between the two tribes at Oja’ba Market in Ibadan.
“With the approval of the relevant authorities – the Federal Government, state government, state House of Assembly and the local government authority, we were presented with two choices, between Ojoo and Shasa, but we chose Shasa for security reason and because Ojoo was too close to the highway. We then visited the late Baale Fijabi who also gave his blessings.
Whiile noting that leadership tussle might have fueled the crisis, Mai Yasin called on the Yoruba leaders to assist in cautioning their youths who he said often trample on the rights of the Northeners in the markets. He claimed that Yoruba youths hardly listen to their elders as they consistently harassed the Hausa youths who sell wares in the markets and on the streets
Both the Baale and the Seriki were, however, united in asking the goverment not to relocate the market as this would affect the livelihoods of the people. They demanded that the market be cleaned up and reopened for business, even if the goverment would later assist in rebuilding it.
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