Prominent Yoruba leaders Friday reiterated their support for the proposed national conference but insisted that Nigeria must run on true federalism.
The group which cut across different ideological and party lines met at the residence of Afenifere Chieftain, Chief OlanihumAjayi at Ishara Remo, Ogun State but regretted that former governor of Lagos State and All Progressives Congress leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief BisiAkande refused to attend the meeting.
According to the leaders, the Yoruba race is demanding among others; regional autonomy, true federalism and resource control.
In attendance were Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae, chieftain of Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, elder statesman, Dr. Tunji Braitwaite, Secretary General, Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF), Dr. Kunle Olajide, Gen. Alani Akinrinade (rtd), Pa Reuben Fasoranti and Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi.
Also present were; Bishop Ayo Ladigbolu, Chief Supo Shonibare, Mr. Bisi Adebuyi, Spokesperson, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Mr. Shina Kawonise, Prof. Wale Are Olaitan, Dr. Akin Onigbinde, former Minister of Mine, Alhaji Sharafa Ishola, Senior Pastor, Latter Rain Assembly Church, Pastor Tunde Bakare, former Chairman, Punch Newspaper, Chief Ajibola Ogunsola, former DPP governorship candidate in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo Dosunmu, National Coordinator, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), OtunbaGani Adams.
They agreed on the need for wider consultations for the region to properly articulate its position before the conference.
Odumakin, who addressed the press on behalf of the group said: “This is assembly of people who are political, people who are non-political and from various cadres of life, nobody should see it as a political thing. It is about the Yoruba nation. We are here to take a position on the planned national conference.”
He said the selection of the 15 representatives of the Yoruba nation to the conference has been shifted to February 17, when the meeting will reconvene at the same venue.
“We have reviewed the modality for the conference. We do not accept the idea that we would be having 75 per cent vote at the conference where we don’t have consensus. We want that where we don’t have consensus, two-thirds should suffice”, he said.
While talking about attempts to bring Tinubu to the forum, Chief Adebanjo said, “We have done everything to bring in APC. Go and ask General Alani Akinrinade.
We have done everything to bring in Tinubu. Some people wanted to meet him two days ago, he gave them an appointment, twice, he didn’t keep it.
“Before we came here that was the battle we first had, that we wanted to get everybody that this is not a political matter, but he wouldn’t respond. What are we discussing that he (Tinubu) shouldn’t be there, we are talking of federalism, is that for our selfish interest, we talk of resource control and these are the things we have been agitating ever before he became the governor of Lagos State in 1999. I was the chairman of the party that made him the governor.
These are the agitation we have been doing 20 years ago and you now have the opportunity to achieve it.”
Braitwaite on his part, maintained that the planned conference was a great opportunity once more open for Nigerians to address the anomalies in the present federal structure.
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