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OUR DEMAND FOR ODUDUWA SELF DETERMINATION AND SOVEREIGN NATION: The Gist of the Matter

By EGBE IRAPADA OODUA, EIRO

Our organisation, EGBE IRAPADA ODUDUWA, EIRO, was set up as a direct response to social, political, economic and cultural repression of the children of Oduduwa in the Nigeria nation. For the past over 2000 years, the children of Odua, now referred to as Itsekiri, Yoruba, Ilaje, Ijebu, Ekiti, Oyo, Egba, Igbomina, Ikale, Edo, Yewa, Awori, Akoko, Ondo etc have struggled to assert themselves as independent and self-righteous people, proud of their history, their culture, their heritage and desirous to determine their future in all ramifications. This battle has been between light and darkness, falsehood and truth, the weak and the poor and hope as against despair.

The need for us to survive the ongoing persecution, repression, the lack of the right to chose our leaders, based from the deepest conviction, the lack of a territory from whence our freewill can be ascertained, is the reason for our decision to seek for self-actualisation informed by our culture, our heritage and our history.

Who is the Odua Person? When we use the term 'Odua', we are talking of the Odua people, we are talking of our women, our men, the young, the old and more importantly the leaders of our tomorrow, that is our children who share the common ancestry as children of Oduduwa, our progenitor, created by God and through which light was shown upon mother hearth, whereof we rediscovered our being and essence.

Who are the Children of Oodua?

They are a great indigenous nationality that could be found in the following countries: Nigeria(the largest single population of them are in Nigeria), Benin Republic, Togo, where a sizeable population of the Yoruba people exist as natives, and millions of them could be find in Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, Suriland, and many of the Latin American countries where they are mostly distinguished by their indigenous religion and as disciples of the creator, orisa, yemoja, etc. Our history says we are indigenous, having inhabited our present Nigerian territory for hundreds of thousand of years ago.

The people have a long and rich history of civilization, a unique system of government, of a system of belief, of philosophy and of sociology.. The people are indigenous and one of the most intelligent race on earth, with a vast array of professionals in every human endeavour and with her scientists, lawyers, technicians and literary icons like Professors Wole Soyinka, Olu of Warrri, Ogiame Atuwatse, Chief Alfred Rewane, the first African Literature Nobel Laureate, Professor, Kole Omotosho (South Africa), Brigadier Esijolomi Tuoyo and hundreds of thousands of such people in sports, art and science (Henry Akinwande, Europe Heavy Weight Boxing Champion, Obafemi Martins, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Decathon Champion, Daley Thompson, the US based singer, Sade Adu, Hakeem Olajuwon (Basket Ball), and the great musicians, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Sunny Ade, Ebenzer Obe among many others that have registered themselves on the world map of history. The Odua people are academics are African firsts in many respects too many to be listed here.

Long before now, our people have continued to cherish their agelong history which is one of the world's earliest. For instance, the carbon dating of remains excavated from Igbo Elewu, in Ondo state , that is at the hinterland, showed that they have been in their present territory for 35,000 years. There have been other historical claims that the our most distinguished progenitor was Oduduwa, who came directly from heaven and from which all the Yoruba came forth.

Some renowned historians say that all humanity came forth from Ile-Ife, the cradle of the Odua people, where Oduduwa's remains are kept till date. The peoples' population in Nigeria is 50million, though the Nigerian federal authority has often used population as a political weapon and in many cases have consciously undermined the Yoruba numerical strength.

OUR PAST

Long before now, the Odua people had their own way of doing things in the real of economics, politics and good governance. As early as the 9th century, the Yoruba has an organised political system, manned by the Obas, and the Baales, who were masters in the art of governance and the craft of commerce. In Ile Ife for instance, there are records of a native administration over the entire Yoruba country by 9th century. The Oba's rule is not supreme, because he derives his powers from the people, who could, and in many instances recorded, be asked to “wo igba” that is to commit suicide if he broke the norms and traditions of the society of if he suddenly becomes tyrannical against the wish of the people. In about 1600, the Olu of Warri once exchanged ambassadors with the Portuguese.

Traditionally, the Odua people are democrats, and on some occasions, have had to wage war on each other's communes in the strive to assert the independence of one federal state as against the unitary wish of some of the sometimes recalcitrant kingdoms in the ancient commonwealth.

One of such often cited examples of the battle for autonomy among the federating ancient Yoruba kingdoms, was the Kiriji war, which ended in 1889 when Ibadan , a city established by the Yoruba generals wished to conquered all the free kingdoms and bring them under military rule. The war lasted for 16 years, with the other Yoruba kingdoms repelling and resisting the hegemonic political agenda of a section of the commonwealth.

Since the war, during which the militarists were humbled, the Odua's egalitarian spirit has been further strengthened. Many scholars have likened the successful takeover of the Odua territory by the British to the war weariness of the Odua fighters and more so that the British took the Odua hinterland through the trickiest proposition that the Yoruba army who were then fighting on both sides, one for a military state and the the for federalism and self determination, to both hand down their weapons since the British had come to make peace. The war tired fighters did and gave the foreigners an opportunity to end the war. In the dead of the night, the British took over the weapons and eventually established the Nigeria space which was give name in 1914 by Miss Flora Shaw who later married Lord Lugard, the first colonial ruler of Nigeria .


OUR PAINFUL PLIGHT IN THE NIGERIAN NATION.

Nigeria came into existence through the fiat of the British colonial masters. The British invaded the Odua territory in 1865 when they took Lagos , the most important economic city of the people by force. In 1914, the Nigerian multi ethnic nationalities were forcefully merged together by force of arms. After the 1960 independence, the Yoruba people, who were the first to gain self-government in 1953, opted for self-determination as against the wish of the overwhelmingly feudal North. In 1960, as against the wish of the Yoruba people, the Federal Government of Nigeria, then controlled by the feudal North insisted on foisting on the people a rookie as against the liberal, social democratic government led by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who was the political leader of the Yoruba nation. In the 1964 Federal Elections, the Yoruba leadership, about 29 of them, led by Awolowo were hauled into jail by the Northern held nation. The result was a popular uprising in the Odua Southwest and subsequent political upheavals across the Nigerian nation. A coup of 1966, led mainly by the Eastern Igbo brothers led to a counter coup by the North again in 1966. A military, ethnic government seized the nation. The Igbos resisted by going to war in 1967, in the famous Biafra War which lasted for 30months.

The South West could not join the Igbos mainly because it was by that time weak militarily, due to the fact that many of her siblings have opted for professional courses, rather than going into the army. The war ended in 1970 and since then the ethnic government kept the country together by force or arms. This was compounded by the high rate of corruption, maladministration, the destruction of merit for ethnic considerations of the race that hold on to the mantle of power and the total destruction of the moral and historic ethos of the Odua nation.

Iota of foreign, alien culture were foisted on the South West states, the consequence was cultural and sociological genocide on the Yoruba people. In the years that follow, the Ibrahim Babangida regime, fronting for the Hausa-Fulani regime, conducted elections in 1993, which was eventually won by a Yoruba politician, Chief M.K.O Abiola. For purely ethnic reasons, the elections were annulled. After 8 years in power, occasioned by widespread looting and unprecedented human rights abuse, Babangida handed over power to a surrogate, Ernest Shonekan, a Yoruba, ostensibly to appease the people. The regime lasted for only three months, he was again swept aside by the Northern General, Sanni Abacha.

Under his five years of misrule, Nigeria was thrown into a state of blood, many activists, mainly Odua were killed, many of them were dismissed from the military, the police and the civil service. A generation fled abroad. Again in 1998, the local and international protest of the Odua people led to the barter killing of Abacha and the another northerner, Abdusalami Abubakar, a military dictator, came to power. After one year, Abiola's own death was arraigned.

To delude the South West people, the elections of 1999, led to the emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo, against the preferred Yoruba candidate, Chief Olu Fasae. In fact, Obasanjo, a Yoruba but an agent of the Hausa-Fulani North, lost the elections in his ward to Falae. The elections were blatantly rigged and for eight years, the Hausa-Fulani rule the country again through its surrogate Yoruba.

Obasanjo's regime brought pains and anguish to the Odua people. We were not surprised because Obasanjo was not the true representative of the Odua nation he was imposed on us, he never won even his ward in the elections, he never believed in the mainstream of Odua political and libertarian tradition.

Abuse of human rights and repression of public dissent characterized Obasanjo's regime. Yet during this draconian era, the Odua people were vociferous in combating his tyranny. The loudest criticism of the Obasanjo regime came from the people of the South West. Many protests in the SouthWest were crushed, agitators for self-determination in the SouthWest were massacred.

For instance, during the reign of Obasanjo, all the prime demands of the Odua nationality, that is self-determination, Sovereign National Conference, SNC and control and management of indigenous resources were relegated to the background and those who made such demands, like Chief Bola Ige were murdered in cold blood. The ethnic self-determination group, the Odua Peoples Congress, OPC which led the demand for self-determination was hounded and their leaders thrown into prison. In one day, Obasanjo's regime killed 49 members of the OPC in Owo, an ancient city in Ondo State . In Lagos, one afternoon on a Sunday, 19 OPC members were gunned down in cold blood. But rather than kill the spirit for the Yoruba self-determination it has rather emboldened it.

ISSUED BY EGBE IRAPADA OODUA, EIRO