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Why Yorubas cannot secede from Nigeria (II)

Why Yorubas cannot secede from Nigeria (II)
May 21
11:03 2024

The first issue that Banji Akintoye’s Ilana Omo Odua and Sunday Igboho’s “Yoruba Nesan” will face in the quest for Yoruba secession from Nigeria is that of Democratic Legitimacy. They and their fellow travellers would have to establish whether they have the mandate of the Yorubas through electoral or consensus to push their demands.

They will have to explain to Nigerians generally including Yorubas that their mandate, such as it is, is superior to that of the entire Yoruba elected representatives at the local, state and federal levels to embark on such actions. This will be the first question that the UN, EU, AU, ECOWAS and other International bodies would ask of them to move to the next step. If they cannot conclusively establish their democratic credentials, no global organisation in the world will support undemocratic groups and actions to establish democratic ends. In this regard, I recommend our Yoruba nation agitators to study the case of the Scottish Independent movement from Britain, the Catalans from Spain and others.

The second issue the Yoruba nation agitators will also have to consider is whether the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria supports their methods. They will also have to establish whether their action enjoys the democratic sympathy and support of other geo-political regions and groups of the country. Do they want to go it alone without the mandatory approval and support of the other five geo-political regions in the country who have massive residual business, commercial and residency stakes in Yoruba land? What will be the fate of the millions of people in those areas who have been residing in Yoruba land for generations and have trillions of naira worth of investments in those areas?

Then let us come to the potential contentious issues within Yoruba land which are likely to spill over uncontrollably. Of these, the issues of the geo-political map and prospective capital of the putative Yoruba Republic are key. I see that parts of Edo and Delta as well as Kwara and Kogi states are included. How is it possible to include Edo and Delta as this issue was conclusively settled in the first republic when the area opted out of the Western Region with the creation of the Mid-West Region in 1963? It will surely amount to turning back the clock on where these areas are to be included in the Yoruba Republic.


Per Kwara and Kogi states, yes they contain a sizeable population of Yoruba-speaking areas. But the Yoruba-speaking areas of these states are in the minority and even though ethnic Yorubas, they may not necessarily wish to join the Yoruba republic having been part of the North Central region for ages. The parallel to this is the situation with the Alsace and Lorraine regions in France (Elsace and Lothringen in German) where although the majority of the people are of German origin elected however to remain in France.

Then where will the capital of the Yoruba Republic be sited? Ibadan or Lagos? I know for sure that aboriginal indigenes of Lagos will neither want to host the capital nor want Lagos to be excluded as capital. It has always been a dilemma for Lagos political elites who though very much ethnic Yoruba have in many ways shown a preference for strict autonomy for Lagos in such matters over the years. Indeed I doubt very much if push comes to shove whether Lagos indigenes would want to be included in the Yoruba nation being currently canvassed.

And for that matter, it is not certain if the various Yoruba sub-groups now grouped in semi-autonomous states within the Nigerian system which they fought and got, will agree to collapse these structures which had served them well relatively under a yet undefined structure of a putative Yoruba republic.
In light of these undetermined issues, I do not think any Nigerian president would countenance any discussion or recognition of the Yoruba agitation for secession. Not even a sitting president of Yoruba ethnicity as President Tinubu is and who has ironically at some point in the past publicly declared that he did not believe in Nigerian unity and existence. As secession is not recognised in Nigeria’s constitution this bars any Nigerian president from considering the issue let alone responding to it in any way.


So given these imponderables, why are the Yoruba nation agitators pursuing the issue?
First, it is most likely a contrived response to the recent statement by Northern Elders that they will not support President Tinubu’s possible quest for a second term in the 2027 elections. It is probably meant as a subtle threat that should the north decide not to vote for Tinubu in 2027, then the Yorubas will calibrate their abiding political secession option thereby letting hell lose in the country as happened during political crises in the Western region during the first republic.

It is also meant to demonstrate Yoruba’s abiding claim to exceptionalism within the Nigerian polity which has gained traction under the present administration headed by President Bola Tinubu, a Yoruba man.
Secession especially as being flippantly bandied about by Yoruba individuals and groups is a dangerous self-delusion. Our own experience which occurred between 1967 and 1970 was a very bitter one which scars we still bear today. Millions perished in that sad chapter of Nigerian history and ironically among those who fought valiantly and gallantly to keep Nigerian one are outstanding Yoruba generals some of whom are alive today. It will be a great disservice and dishonour to those gallant souls on both sides of the civil war for us to want to re-enact that painful episode again.

Yorubas are not doing anybody a favour by Nigerians; indeed Nigeria saved them from themselves and they have thus prospered; they have been the biggest beneficiaries of the modern Nigerian state in every area of life and by that very fact have deeply affected and become affected by Nigeria. Yorubas are without doubt the most Nigerian of all Nigerian ethnic groups and in many cases they are the very definition of Nigeria and Nigeria to the world. And as foretold by the high priest at the peace settlement of the Kiriji war any recourse to another Kiriji-type war which this secession caper is will certainly result in Yorubas destroying themselves and Nigeria from which they have benefitted so much and in which they are irrevocably embedded in. As the late great Yoruba man of theatre, Herbert Ogunde admonished during the political crises in the Western region in the first republic; Yoruba Ronu!



Gadu can be reached via [email protected] or 08035355706 (texts only).

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