Delegates list does not represent Yoruba “First 11,” groups say

By Segun Balogun

Some Yoruba groups on Wednesday said it is difficult for anyone to prove that the region's delegates to the National Conference are the best the region can offer.

The final list, they said in a press release signed by representatives of each of the eight groups, is a detour from the advocacy being made from all quarters, especially the Yoruba royal fathers, that the region must send its 'First 11' to the conference, if it must maximise the opportunities it present.

The groups and their respective representatives are: Afenifere Renewal Group - Hon. Olawale Oshun, Oodua Foundation - Prof Banji Akintoye, Oodua Nationalist Coalition - Grp. Capt Adesoji Aderemi (Rtd), Agbekoya Reformed Society - Chief Kunle Oshodi, Oodua Peoples' Congress - Edward Olusola Ajayi, Atayese - Chief Adekunle Olaiya, Covenant Group - Dr. Kola Afolabi, and Afenifere Youth Forum - Dotun Atilade.

The statement, titled 'Southwest's Confab Delegates List: is this our 'First 11'?', described the final delegate list published by the Federal Government as a 'gathering of the good, the bad, and the ugly,' and said the controversies trailing the published list 'suggests that some delegates were forced in against the wish of the people.'

'While we cannot speak on how delegates from other ethnic nationalities and interest groups emerged, we owe the Yoruba people a duty to provide some insights about the delegates from the Southwest. Not doing so, in our view, may be misinterpreted as an endorsement of the process,' the statement said.

'We could have sent our own list of delegates to the Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation. But we did not. We put the region's interest above any other considerations in order to create a united platform that will best serve the aspirations of Yoruba people. This decision seemed right, considering the advocacy from every quarter that the region must send its 'First 11' to the conference. This informed our decision to participate at the Ishara unity meeting and also at the Grand Yoruba Summit in Ibadan.'

'However, it is difficult for those that masterminded the final list, or any one for that matter, to prove that the list truly represents Yoruba's 'First 11.' The "selection" process got so convoluted that people who did not expressly endorse the harmonised Yoruba Agenda for 2014 National Conference made the delegates list!'

'This is a worrisome development that gives some credence to the rumour making the rounds that the delegates to the National Conference might have been selected for other reasons at variance with the plan to restructure the country and find lasting solutions to our many problems. Should this conference therefore fail to meet the expectation of our people - which is to attain true federalism - let every Yoruba son and daughter know where the betrayal emerged form. We are still asking ourselves if there is truly an unspoken agenda that the president wants to achieve by convoking this conference and we would wish the answer is negative. But the myriad controversies trailing the published delegate list by the federal government suggests that some delegates were forced in against the wish of the people.'

'Certainly, there are some delegates whose credibility and loyalty to the Yoruba agenda and the pursuit to restructure Nigeria is unwavering. There are also those who are perceived, largely due to their antecedents, as reactionary elements who would rather want the retention of the status quo. We hope those in the latter category can prove their worth at this conference and put national interest above any parochial interest.'

'However, we would like to remind all delegates of Yoruba extraction that the people of the region have set their minimum irreducible agenda for the outcome of this conference, and it would be in the interest of all that the agenda is fully pursued and realised.'

'Finally, as a group that is irrevocably committed to true freedom and development of the Yoruba people, we shall focus on the opportunities that the conference presents and continue to work and press for the interest of our people at the National Conference, believing that delegates no matter their platform would see reason to seize this golden opportunity to change the misfortune of the country and put it on a path of the much required development and purposeful governance.'

Segun Balogun
Programme Officer
Afenifere Renewal Group
23, Fola Jinadu Crescent,
Gbagada, Lagos.