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21.03.2021 Justice ‘Another Civil War Looming?’ — Sunday Igboho’s Yoruba Secession Controversy

Published 21st Mar, 2021

By Ibrahim Adeyemi

Like the southeast’s Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), some southwest groups are agitating for the secession of the Yoruba from Nigeria. Since he came to limelight after issuing a quit notice to Fulani herdsmen in Igangan, Oyo State, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has been at the forefront of agitating for a ‘Yoruba Nation’.

Igboho became more prominent when up to 40 soldiers, police and other security agents tried but could not arrest him along Lagos-Ibadan expressway. 

However, Nigerians have likened him to Nnamdi Kanu, who is currently leading the IPOB group. Kanu is taking after Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who initiated the Biafra secession that led to a civil war that cost Nigeria thousands of lives in 1967.

On Wednesday, Igboho speaking at an event in Ibadan, declared that the Yoruba are no longer part of Nigeria. In a video that has now gone viral, he said all southwest borders would be opened. He also lamented that major institutions in Nigeria are headed by people of Fulani origin.

The Yoruba Nation map

“We will hold a meeting and open our borders so that rice, food and other things can enter easily. Enough is enough,” he said. “All our borders that Nigerian government closed, we are telling them we are no longer under them, we will go and open the borders. We are ready for everything they want to do to us. I am speaking on behalf of Yoruba people.”

Igboho’s declaration of the ‘Yoruba Nation’ has left tongues wagging, especially on social media where hundreds of Nigerians exchanged banters.

THE CONTROVERSY

Those who supported Igboho’s controversial declaration argued that Yoruba people are long due for their own country. They also blamed President Muhammadu Buhari’s style of leadership for the ethnic violence that is already consuming Nigeria and its habitants.

“I keep hearing that Sunday igboho has an agenda, who doesn’t have an agenda? Buhari has an agenda, he signed railways to Niger Republic by closing yoruba borders. Kanu, who wants Biafra, has an agenda. If the Igboho agenda is for Yoruba. It’s a good thing. Na mumu person believe in one Nigeria,” said Ifa Funsho, a social media influencer, via her Twitter page. 

Ayemojuba, another social media influencer, shared the same view with Funsho in throwing support for the proposed Yoruba Nation that seems like a fantasy or mere words of mouth. 

“Since you guys have chosen not to treat us as citizens in your One Nigeria, what do you expect us to do?

“We’ll keep saying it until we see it.

“Living in the fantasy of Oduduwa and Biafra is more fulfilling than living in the reality of One Nigeria,” she said.

However, many other Nigerians have tagged Igboho a “jingoistic war-monger” and called his call for a Yoruba nation a “mischievous one”.

Reacting to Igboho’s declaration, Shehu Sani, a former Kaduna senator, said some champions of self determination are gradually rubbishing their causes with comical and hollow declarations that are not worth the value of the paper they were written on.

Dr. Ben Gbenro, another Twitter user, also condemned the Yoruba groups who see Igboho as their mouthpiece.

He said: “When you elevate people like Gani Adams to prominence,then you embolden the likes of Sunday Igboho to think of themselves as your mouthpiece. Iran Yoruba, se eri aiye yin lode? Our acclaimed education is useless.”

ANOTHER CIVIL WAR LOOMING?

As a Yoruba warlord, Igboho has advocated for war while agitating for a ‘Yoruba Nation’. On many occasions, he had asked his kinsmen to prepare for war, noting that freedom could not be achieved peacefully. In one of his controversial comments, he said: “Fellow Yoruba youths, go and prepare, it’s going to be war. Some people might think fighting war is not the way but I’m telling you we can’t get our freedom without fighting for it.”

Following the eviction of Saliu Abdulkadri, the Fulani leader in Igangan and the Yoruba-Hausa crisis that cost lives and properties in Shasha, Ibadan, Nigerians have become more ethnically violent. More recently, a northern group, Arewa Youth Assembly, gave Igboho 72 hours to move Yoruba people from the north. But experts have warned that another civil war may erupt if authorities do not take necessary steps to curb it.

Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, the Executive Director of the African Heritage Institution in Nigeria, said perceptions of unfairness, discrimination and marginalisation have led to increased activism for secession not only by people from the south-east but across the country.

“This includes the call from the South-West for an Oduduwa Republic led by the Yoruba Liberation Command, and the call for a Niger Delta Republic in the South. Even in the North, there is a growing quest to liberate the Hausa from perceived Fulani hegemony. The Boko Haram insurgency that has exhibited extreme violence in its fight for an independent Islamic state counts among Nigeria’s secession challenges,” Okeke-Uzodike argued.

According to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), the grievances that led to the Biafra declaration of independence and the civil war still remain, with Nigeria still infamous for stoking conflict through heavy-handed approaches.

Ndubuisi Christian Ani, a researcher with ISS, suggested that the government must move away from its default military response to dissent, because such responses have only improved the publicity and support base of the secessionists.

“Systematic dialogue is needed to convince Nigerians of the need for unity through ideas rather than through force. It should make genuine efforts to ensure equity, fairness and positive change in the lives of ordinary Nigerians,” he said.

Published 21st Mar, 2021

By Ibrahim Adeyemi

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