The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, on Thursday 16 January, gave a veiled hint that under certain circumstances the South-west of Nigeria could possibly consider the option of secession from Nigeria.
The remark was made by the Secretary-General of the apex body, Mr Yinka Odumakin, reacting to a carrot dangled at Yorubas by Miyetti Allah Kaute-Hore, who through its National Secretary, Alhassan Saleh, appeared to suggest that Amotekun – the Western Nigeria Security Network recently launched by the governors of the region, could potentially affect the region’s chances of clinching the presidency in 2023.
“It is best they give up on this idea (Amotekun) because it may affect the chances of the South-west to produce the president in 2023”, Mr Saleh was reported to have said.
“The thinking is that if the South-west, a major stakeholder in this government, can be toying with this idea now, they may do worse when they get to power.”
Miyetti Allah Kaute-Hore is an umbrella body of Fulani Herdsmen fingered in Nigeria for terrorism and mass murders following herders/farmers clashes around the country.
Nigeria’s Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, over last weekend pronounced the regional security outfit “illegal and unconstitutional”, but the state governors appear undeterred insisting they have a responsibility to halt rising criminality and protect lives in their jurisdiction.
In a swift and angry reaction, Odumakin of Afenifere said the Miyetti Allah’s comment on 2023 presidency was an “insolence” to the Yoruba people and wondered if the cattle-breeders association “now owns the Presidency which they can gift to who they want and deny who they choose”.
“Cow-herders threatening a people that produced the first lawyer in 1879 because a lawyer who doesn’t know the law is overreaching himself?”, Odumakin opined in an apparent reference to the attorney-general, himself as well as the President both Fulanis.
“To hell with their Presidency if the condition for it is that we must allow them to continue to waste the lives of our people.”
Then he made a veiled suggestion about possible secession by rhetorically asking, “Who told these people Yoruba cannot opt for self-determination and have our own president? If they see the protection of our lives as politics, we are definitely in a wrong and impossible country.”
“Can they go and tell Yoruba in Benin Republic such idiocy? Is it now a crime that we inhabit the same country with them? If Yoruba would be colonised, is it by those we should employ on our ranches?“
Similarly, outspoken critic and former government minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode in a Facebook post reacting to the comment credited to Miyetti Allah, wrote “To hell with your Presidency. The sons and daughters of Oduduwa would rather live free without the Presidency than live as slaves with the Presidency.
“Self-determination is our right and it is time for us to consider it. No devolution, no Nigeria. No restructuring, no Nigeria. No freedom, no Nigeria. No protection, no Nigeria. No equality, no Nigeria. No prosperity, no Nigeria. No peace, no Nigeria. No justice, no Nigeria. No equity, no Nigeria.“
These brit bats between representatives of the two ethnic groups comes just a day after the 50th anniversary of the end of the Nigerian-Biafran war on 15 January 1970 which the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria fought but failed to extricate itself from the internal contradictions of the Nigerian state.
Many observers warn that Nigeria may yet again be drifting towards another conflagration if not checked, and several southerners including a former president, Olusegun Obasanjo (also a Yoruba), blame the spate of insecurity on the current administration of President Buhari which he claims is pursuing a covert Fulani supremacist agenda over indigenous tribes in Africa’s most populous country.