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YORUBA NATION: THE LAST ROAD TO VICTORY - Chief Bode George

By Lere Olayinka
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KEYNOTE ADDRESS ON CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND THE REPOSITION OF THE PARTY ORGANISED BY THE SOUTH WEST PDP BOARD OF TRUSTEES ON 14 FEBRUARY, 2013 AT TRANSCORP HILTON, ABUJA.

YORUBA NATION: THE LAST ROAD TO VICTORY
Sons and daughters of Oduduwa. Mothers of our ancestors. Fathers of our great beginning. Scions of immortal names and heritage. Leaders of Yoruba nation. I beseech you all, look around you. I exhort you all, stop, think and ponder: pray, what now is the position of the Yoruba people in the Nigerian firmament?

Are we joyous and grateful? Are we dallying in triumphant glory, engaged in celebratory pageantry in the sun? Are we in some victorious latitude, vividly extolling our ancestors for our significant attainments?

Or are we mourning, sunk into some somber reality, dark, gloomy and sad riven by our present desperate straits and collective irrelevance?

We are presently dangling on a precipice of irrelevance and dark, bitter ruination. We are now halted in a mournful twilight zone, bewildered, wondering about the crucibles of the present, pestered about the lost opportunities and the forfeited dreams.

From the depths of the ancestral forests and the awe inspiring hills and valleys of Ondo and Ekiti, to the primordial groves of Osun, to the rolling plains, the undulating hills and the hallowed woodlands of Oyo, to the rocky saturated eminence of Ogun, and far into the life-giving swampy mangroves and the oceanic mightiness of the ancient Lagos, the land of King Ado Keme- the Yoruba nation is now torn in disunity and tribal imbalance. We are now lost, deprived, roaming in self-contrived shadows.

We are stunted without growth. We are frozen in chaotic tumult without movement. We are halted in muddle and misery by our own contrivances. Alas, we are orphaned, detained in self-inflicting conundrum and despair. Pray, where is the way forward? How do we plow through this prevailing murkiness? How do we restore our path to the desired road of redemption and collective progress?

There are no easy solutions. There is no magic wand anywhere. Our collective salvation dwells within us all. We must plunge within our culture and sift through the depths of our ancestry for the way forward. We must look through the precedents of our founding fathers and the defining examples of our tradition for a lasting solution to our present confrontations.

We were once in the forefront of exemplary excellence in the larger Nigerian Union. We used to define and determine the pace of scholarship and learning. We used to exemplify and anchor the best graces of commerce and entrepreneurship. We used to dictate and determine the profound verities of the judiciary and the law.

We were once the reference and the pioneering leadership in medicine, in transportation, in network of roads, in aviational field, in broadcasting and in all the unifying testaments of the journalistic media.

In a way, the restless vision and the vast breadth of the achievements of our founding fathers- from the estimable Herbert Macaulay to Chief Obafemi Awolowo – guaranteed succeeding generations the pivotal leadership role in the competitive theatre of the Nigerian Union.

Invariably, the huge sacrifice, the self-denying commitments, the incredible selfless exertions of our heroes of yore assured several generations of Yoruba people immeasurable advantages in the Nigerian life.

Such advantages are now in the past. The bounteous fruits and gains of yesterday are now frittered and lost. We lack cohesion and truth. We are now without vision or centrality of purpose. We are no longer defined by the ancient, time-honoured precepts and principles of Omoluabi.

We dwell in retrogressive circles, frozen in perpetual blame game, halted in bickering and muddle, thereby creating a leadership vacuum now absorbed and seized by charlatans and the avatars of dubious and unknown pedigree.

As I look around me now, I see men and women of distinctions who can hold their own in competitive distinctions anywhere in the world. I see lawyers and doctors, engineers, philosophers and journalists, acclaimed writers, architects, accountants and computer wizards.

We lack nothing. We have the tools of distinctions and competitive edge. But we lack solidity of purpose. We lack a common dream and a common mission.

We steer our ship in different directions. We are led by different, contrary captains on the same boat of life. We all cry and shout about progress but we still move and hurry in separate directions. We lack clarity and a unifying articulation.

I am not here to apportion blame. I am not here to affirm the superior attestation of any position. My own counsel is that we should move forward. We should start anew. Wherever our ancestors were confronted with any troubling divisive challenges, they did not meander in confusion and ill-defined purpose. They would quickly buckle up and summon everyone with a declaratory fiat: E je ka da le ka tun sa! ILE TI A FI OWO MO, A KI FI ESE TU KA.

Let us start anew. Let us begin afresh. But I do not say we should not discuss the grievances confronting us all. No. We should not shy away from airing our challenges. Let everybody speak up now or forever hold his peace. Let us ventilate all the identifiable ills that are mitigating against the progress of our people.

Nothing should be hidden. There are no go areas. Nothing is sacrosanct. Every embittered voice must be heard. Every aggrieved must present his own case so that there will not be any lingering hostility or doubt in any camp.

But most importantly, we must all recognize that our coming together today is not about illustrating personal triumph or apportioning defeat. No. Our purpose is to confront the truth and move forward. But moving forward is also about the nobility of compromise and reconciliation.

Moving forward is about healing the broken places, mending the divisions, patching up the differences, weaving together a solid united front in the pursuit of our collective glory.

We must all admit and acknowledge that the collective fate of the Yoruba people is greater than all of us. The collective progress of our people is greater than the parochial recourse to personal ambition.

We must jettison our prejudices. We must eschew the narrow provinces of personal vendetta. We must forgive, we must forget, we must ignore the animosity and calumny of partisan politics.

We must grow beyond the limiting confines of petty jealousy and envy. We must defer to the wisdom of Heaven and dictates of fate. We must be humble enough to acknowledge that leadership is always the making and the prescription of God. It cannot be forced. It cannot be hijacked. We can only envy the leader in vain. What God has sanctioned we cannot change.

We can only have one leader at a time. Let us work together with whosesoever God has chosen to lead us. This is the only way we can rebuild the broken walls of the Yoruba nation.

Together in unity and firmness of purpose we can restore the sterling position, the dignity and eminence of our people. That should be our commitment from now on. That should be the pivotal fixity of every well meaning Yoruba leader.

Naturally, as human beings, there may be some intimations of the pains and anguish of old over some perceived injustice. This should never detain us. The perceived treachery or injustice suffered must always remain in the past. We must never drag the cobwebs of the past into the present or the future.

This is the essence of beginning on a clean slate. We must move into the future with the chastening and sobering acknowledgement that we are all guilty of whatever was wrong with the past.

Once we all bear the badge of collective indictment and culpability, we would have created an enabling environment to rectify the identifiable wrongs assailing us all.

This is our last opportunity to change our ways. This is our last chance to claim the road to our collective victory and relevance.

We are now the attractive bride that is desperately wooed and cultivated by every ethnic group. We are the game-changer whose nod can make or mar any other group. But that is a mere potential that others see in us.

This general perception can only be fruitful and effective if we are able to harness this potential value and strength into concrete reality. And there is no other gainful reality than the potent cohesive force of our united leadership. There is no other fruitful reality than the observable committed purpose of our collective vision. There is no other progressive reality than the firmness of our collective position and the collective, indivisible lock-step articulation of our unifying ideal.

This is what will enhance our respectability and value in the larger Nigerian Union. This is what will reclaim for us the lost ground and the luster of our once polished graces.

I now appeal most passionately to everyone here and even beyond this place that the reconciliation and the way forward that I envisage should go beyond the narrow confines of political party identification. Let us cultivate and bring to our fold distinguished Yoruba men and women of pedigree and substance who can contribute meaningfully to the progress and enhancement of our people.

Let us bring to our embrace and accommodation all men and women of goodwill who treasure honour and good name than a mess of porridge. From traders to the students, from professors to artisans, let us all bring to the reconciliation table men and women of principled candour who are not detained by personal gains, who are committed to the collective good, who are willing to make sacrifice for the growth and development of our people.

This is the way I see it. This is my personal vision. Please let us move forward for the greater good of our people.

A DA RIN EJO, WON MA FI DI IGI WA LE NI O!
Finally, I want to leave you with the words of the Holy Bible, St Mark, Chapter 9 verse 50: “Let us establish the salt of friendship among ourselves and live in peace with one another"

CHIEF OLABODE GEORGE, CON
ATONA OODUA OF YORUBALAND.