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Why Yoruba must Ronu (1)

PERMIT me to start this very important topic with an instructive quotation from a document, entitled: Ibo National Caucus-protocol and marked “secret and confidential” by Igbo leaders during the turbulent political situation arising from the Action Group (AG) crisis in the Western Region in the early 60s. The document stated inter alia:
“Play up Awolowo at all times, this will keep up the resistance of the Action Group members and stop them from uniting with the NNDP to form a solid Yoruba front. This is vital and there is no longer a headache or danger to us. Intensify all propaganda against Akintola. Don’t hold that he is sufficiently discredited already; he is still dangerous. We must always keep the quarrel between himself and the Action Group alive. This will ensure the disunity amongst the Yoruba leaders. Seek all means to discredit Fani-Kayode. He is the real and only barrier to OUR ULTIMATE DOMINATION OF THE WEST AND OUR ULTIMATE CONTROL OF THE FEDERATION.”
For the Yoruba, one of the major ethnic nationalities that make up the conglomeration called Nigeria, things have not been what they suppose to be for them in most cases in the polity, especially since independence. Things were even not as bad as they are now for the Yoruba ethnic group when the late Hubert Ogunde alerted the Yoruba to their shameful and avoidable descent into a pitiable situation in his popular song, “Yoruba ronu,” released in the early 60s. It was an advice for members of the Yoruba nation then to think deeply about the ignominy which had become their lot in the scheme of things within the political contraption called Nigeria.
According to the late renowned artiste, as a result of the careless (if not senseless) attitude of some Yoruba quislings then, the Yoruba nation was turned to a football for other competing ethnic groups in the polity to kick about in all directions of the nation’s murky political playing field. The pathetic current situation of the Yoruba in the scheme of things since independence becomes obvious when juxtaposed with their divine placement for excellence and leadership role in modernisation process.
For many decades, the Yoruba people were far ahead of their compatriots in other ethnic groups in the country in terms of Western education, both in quality and quantity, and consequently access to modern civilisation. For instance, the first university graduate among the Igbo nation, Nnamdi Azikiwe, did not emerge until 1934 and the first Igbo medical doctor, Francis Akanu Ibiam, was not produced until 1935. Also, the first university graduate in the whole of the defunct Northern Region, Dikko, did not emerge until 1952.
But, in sharp contrast, the Yoruba nation had started producing university graduates, medical doctors, bishops and engineers since 1876. They included Dr Nathaniel Thomas King; Isaac Oluwole; Alexander Akinyele; Charles Phillips; James Johnson; Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther (1864) etc.
Implicit in the above is the hard fact that the Yoruba ethnic group was far ahead of other ethnic groups in the country in modern civilisation. Others looked up to them mainly for direction to modern civilisation. This explains why Yorubaland became the beehives of activities that tended to showcase modern civilisation.
The sophistication of the Yoruba could partly explain the exclusive great landmarks under the premiership of the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. First class civil servants in the Western Region then made the Western Region civil service to be the best in the whole of Africa. The well planned and dexterously executed free primary education of the time remains a unique reference point throughout the country today.
The programme was so credible that even the premier himself and his top government functionaries could not hesitate to register their children in such public schools, unlike today that having one’s child in public primary school signifies the acme of penury. With various landmarks under Chief Awolowo, Western Region became the cynosure of all eyes, not only in Nigeria, but in the whole of Africa. Then, any Yoruba man or woman could boldly and proudly sing a song waxed by one of them to portray the cheering situation in the West. The song says: “Oh my dear lover, Western Region lawa, a jurawa.”
But things have turned upside down for the once vibrant people. Why? This is the main question. Why the descent into social and political backwardness? Agreed, Obasanjo is considered to be a Yoruba man and was at the helms of the nation’s affairs for good eight years apart from the three and a half years he spent as military head of state. But, this is subject to a debate. Obasanjo himself knows that his political factor is a minus rather than plus for the Yoruba nation.
What has made the Yoruba nation so susceptible to bastardisation and relegation by other ethnic nationalities in the country? Why was it possible for the satanically goggled General to attempt the total decimation of the race with such an unreserved impunity? Why were the Yoruba people the main targets for slaughter by the rampaging Fulani in the recent Jos serial unrest? We shall start from here next week by the grace of God.

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