By Musa Toyyib Olaniyi
This contribution is informed, in the main, by the challenge thrown by Chief Akin Aruwajoye, the National Coordinator of Owo is One Association, to members of the social arm the WhatsApp platform of the organisation about the fate of Owo-Ose community in the midst of the occurrences seizing the moment in Nigeria and Yoruba nationality.
Chief Akin Aruwajoye challenged members of the platform to begin to interrogate the role and position of Owo-Ose community, and by political demarcation, Owo-Ose Federal Constituency, in view of the current agitation for Oduduwa Republic. Basically, the inference from the challenge was how do we protect our interest in this axis.
Looking at it deeply, since Owo-Ose is a subset of the Yoruba nation, it stands to reason that we cannot really begin to discuss Owo-Ose without having an idea about the Yoruba nation of our dream, and that is, if that eventually becomes a reality.
THE YORUBA QUESTION
Recently, I read two document bothering on the Yoruba question within a corporate Nigeria.
The two document were: ‘The Yoruba Vision’ by Wale Adebanwi, and a rejoinder to it titled ‘The Vision’ authored by Prof. Banji Akintoye, the leader of the Yoruba World Congress.
The contents of the two documents symbolize the unique ingenuity of the Yoruba nation and the resourcefulness of her citizens.
The argument by the two intellectuals were no doubt persuasive, and the core ingredients of their presentation irrefutable.
Even though I find Adebanwi’s paper exciting and intellectually scintillating, my enthusiasm about basing our federalism on regionalism or regional government is a bit constrained.
Prof. Akintoye’s rejoinder was no less poignant and charming, laced with more than enough examples of ethnic-states or nations that performed better invariably when they left parasitic unions like that of Nigeria.
Sighs. Tough choice you would say.
Given a choice between Prof. Akintoye diagnosis and prescription and that of the very cerebral Banji Adebanwi, I’m persuaded that Nigeria, if it can be remedied, still remains a veritable habitat for glory for the nationalities, and even for itself in the comity of nations in the world.
However, if this proves unachievable, as it is increasingly becoming evident to all, Prof. Akintoye’s thesis, which is severance of ties with the behemoth, which in this case, means secession, will become alluring.
Still, one thing is certain. Between Prof. Akintoye fixed opinions on dismantling the Nigerian octopus, and the more optimistic and expansive vision of the scholarly Adebanwi, which draws copiously from Awolowo’s thoughts and eclectically from scholarly outputs across time and space, a troubling question emerges.
Will Sunday Igboho now leads the Yoruba nation?
This previously inconceivable reality is another food for thought and a call to action for the Yoruba elite class.
We, and any society for that matter, can only prosper, when we are led by our best.
OWO-OSE IN THE NIGERIAN MATRIX
It makes eminent sense to begin to interrogate the position of Owo-Ose vis-a-vis the precarious political situation in Nigeria today.
I mentioned earlier on that Owo-Ose is a subunit of the Yoruba nation, and the implication of this is that where we eventually find ourselves is not going to be different from the destination of the Yoruba nation.
If this is the case, then it also means that our options are a bit circumscribed.
But a few things may be helpful:
One, deliberate effort to make our voice strong and audible enough to shape the debate of what we feel is the best course of action for the Yoruba nation
Two, equipping ourselves formidably enough to be able to thrive and prosper whether in Nigeria or in Oduduwa Republic.
Three, and a critical component of number two above, is to ensure there is compass for our existence as a community.
After all, vision is no doubt the compass of progress, averred the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo.
And this means, a realistic plan as a community to matter in the scheme of things. We can only matter through the index of our development.
Four, forging organic unity and fraternity between Owo and Ose communities.
Deepening the fraternity between the two communities is in our enlightened self interest. We share similarities in culture and language, and before now, in the defunct Western Region, we are a division, and presently we belong to the same constituency. Therefore, by all means, strengthening our fraternity is an enlightened self interest for us as communities.
EXAMINING THE OPTIONS
But any of the above options will require having strong leadership at political, community, cultural and other levels of the society.
The first option seems to suggest having visible voices of Owo-Ose extraction contributing to the debate about the fate of Nigeria or Yoruba nation, or coming together as a collective to stake a position on this critical question of our time.
I wouldn’t know how feasible this is. But the following questions are germane:
Do we have people speaking for us at the moment?
How visible are they on the national stage?
Are we speaking for ourselves as a community?
If we are speaking for ourselves as a community, are we heard, or are people listening?
The second option which is formidable equipment of Owo-Ose Axis to thrive irrespective of where it found itself requires a more collective effort. And the following therefore become imperative:
•The government will do it bit by catalysing an all-round development of the axis
• The traditional institution will drive its own development agenda
• Critical stakeholders like Owo Is One Association and other community development groups will also play their part
On this point, having a Development Plan for the axis will not be out of place. And of course the political class, must be made to key into such grand plan.
These are tangible ways to make the axis thrive whether located within Nigeria or in the Oduduwa Republic.
THE QUESTION LEFT UNASKED
The agitation for Oduduwa Republic has consumed us to the extent that we hardly bother about the details.
What sort of governance model are we going to adopt even if Oduduwa Republic becomes a reality.
This question becomes critical so that we do not end up recycling the same problems we complain about Nigeria
My thinking is that, even though we are largely homogeneous, still there are a sprinkle of minorities within us, and across the states making up the envisaged Oduduwa Republic, we are differently endowed.
The best model for such case then will be an adaptation of the federal system, in which case, fiscal federalism is practised wholeheartedly.
The constituents parts should be allowed to generate revenue, explore, exploit and develop their resources while they contributed taxes to the central government.
This is the only way to achieve development that will astound the world. United Arab Emirate is a good example in this regard
To find our feet as a constituency, whether within Nigeria or in the Yoruba nation, we must not forget the importance of quality leadership. Quality leadership at all levels or strata of our society is sine qua non to societal growth and development.
There is a need to ask those presently occupying political positions what exactly is their thought about the Nigerian or Yoruba question.
Frankly, that is part of their responsibilities as political leaders.They should be able to chart the way for the people.
And if there is anyway these representatives are blank about the existential questions regarding our corporate existence today, then that means that by 2023, and that is if Nigeria is still a corporate entity, we should begin to look for CAPABLE PEOPLE as leaders.
REPENTANCE AND REDEMPTION
As a people, we need to urgently repent to God and turn away from evils.
There is so much evil in the land, both at individual and corporate levels.
Redemption and blessings naturally follow repentance.
There is no doubt that the raging issues in Nigeria today call for concern. The nation is tottering on the brink, and rescuing it calls for great statesmanship.
Irrespective of the stridency of the views for dissolution, a united, truly federal republic of Nigeria is the best bet for all the components parts of this great country.
But do we have people that can make this happen and help deliver Nigeria’s greatness?
Toyyib Olaniyi Musa-Omoloja put up this analysis.