Pan-Yoruba groups identify ethnic strife and violence as threat to peaceful poll
Several pan-Yoruba groups have again gathered in Lagos with a vow to ensure that the South West determines the future of elections in the region. The group, in a statement signed by the Secretary General, Mr. Popoola Ajayi, adopted the name Alliance of Panyoruba Democratic Movements (APYDM) and declared that ethnic conflicts, violence and the national question are critical issues that must be resolved if elections are to be meaningful and impactful in Nigeria.
The group said it would soon launch an opinion poll across the southwest, including Kwara and Kogi states, to gauge the influence of the people on presidential candidates in the context of the future of democracy and elections in the region.
The group condemned the attacks on Yoruba territories by armed groups, the latest being the violence perpetrated against Molege and Arimogija in the Ose local government area of Ondo State by armed herdsmen.
“The 57 pan-Yoruba and civil society groups met earlier in Lagos last week when they decided that any election in Yoruba territory should be about resolving the national question and nothing more.
“Groups made up of artisans and pan-Yoruba, civil society, labor groups have now grown to 84 as more groups enlist in the coalition whose focal point is the former region of West including Edo, Delta and also Kwara and Kogi states The group said any presidential candidate from the South West will receive the support of the people if the focal point of the election is to resolve the issue persistent nationalism without which credible future elections and sustainable developments are impossible,” the statement noted.
The group explained that many Yoruba are tired of the elections which failed to address the fears and aspirations of the long-suffering people.
“’The election has become a private political affair and no longer that of the people. The vote now concerns more the members of the political parties and not the people. Democracy is gradually becoming the government of political parties, by political parties and for the members of political parties. This must change. The people must take their destiny in both hands,” he said.
The group further noted that it is aware of various tendencies in the former western region, including those who want a breakup of the country and those who want elections not held at all.
According to the group, the demand for a break-up of Nigeria by certain ethnic groups is based on long-standing injustice, corruption, a biased and anti-people constitution and the rise of terrorism which seems to be supported by some people in power.
The statement revealed that if elections are to be held in Yoruba territories, the people should be the deciding factor, not money or the sharing of material incentives which destroys the moral fabric of the nation.
“We are preparing to mobilize the Yoruba, the poor, the middle class, the haves and the have-nots, the artisans, the traders, the have-nots and the privileged so that real democratic power is in the hands of the people. Democracy is the government of the people by the people and for the people. It means the majority must have a say and they must have a say, not a small cabal,” he said.
The group said it has set up committees to meet with groups and associations in the five geopolitical zones to work out a cross-regional alliance.
Among those attending the meeting were representatives of the Nigerian Automotive Technicians Association (NATA) represented by the National General Secretary, with some 7 million members in the South West alone, the Okada Riders Association in the South West (ANNACOWA), represented by the President, Mr. Ade Ikuesan, who is also the Secretary General of the Okada Riders Association of Nigeria; Oodua Nationalist Coalition, (ONAC), Agbekoya represented by Chief Kunle Oshodi, Apapo Oodua Koya, (AOKOYA), Oodua Peoples Congress, (New Era) led by Alhaji Rasaq Arogundade,
“South West Farmers Coopeative South West Women Congress, (SWOG), Coalition of Oodua Student Associations (COSA), Covenant Group, (CG), Network for Yoruba Alliance, (NEYA), Oodua International Democratic Movement, (OIDEM), Ikale Peoples Coalition, (IPC), Edo Peoples Alliance, (EPA), Network of Itsekiri Unions, Oodua Hunters Union, (OHUN), Oodua Peoples Congress, (OPC Reformed) led by Alhaji Taofik Adeyemi, Liberty Movement, South West Progressive Peoples Movement, (SWPPM), South West Professionals, (SOWPROF), representatives of Yoruba communities in the North and some West African countries among many others.