The Yoruba Welfare Ideology and the Future of the Yoruba Nation – by Prof. Banji Akintoye

No Comments » May 31st, 2016 posted by // Categories: Yoruba Affairs


AKURE, MAY 28, 2016
Prof. (Senator) Banji Akintoye
His Excellency the Governor of Ondo State, our chief host on this august occasion and our dear and highly deserving son,
Our chief hostess, the First Lady of Ondo State, Mrs. Olukemi Mimiko,
Your Excellences, our Governors from other states of Yorubaland and from all over Nigeria,
And finally, above all, our father, Papa Chief Reuben Fasoranti, worthy father of the Yoruba Nation today, life-long dedicated servant of our people, mentor, teacher and promoter of a whole generation of distinguished servants and leaders:
It is with deep humility that I stand up to deliver this lecture in honour of you Sir, a titan whom I have known very intimately, and with whom I have walked closely, throughout my adult life.
It is also with pride that I hereby make the personal acquaintance of my cousin-in law, Governor Segun Mimiko, and that I have the privilege of personally seeing some of the good and futuristic development which Ondo State has experienced under his leadership. Even long before I met him, I had heard wonderful reports about his work, and occasionally written in the media my congratulations and appreciation of him. I remember that when I read reports of his establishment of an abattoir to handle beef slaughter and distribution in Ondo State, I was very delighted that one of our own young men was thinking such forward-looking thoughts, creating such a highly civilized future for our people, and providing a constructive termination to traditional cattle rearing in our part of Nigeria. I have now seen more of his achievements, and I hereby multiply my congratulations. Especially, I congratulate Ondo State for this governor’s outstanding achievement in the development of healthcare delivery system. I am told that more and more, people from other parts of Nigeria are coming to Ondo State for medical treatment.
I should add that I often say the following in my public statements – namely, that even in this era of general decline in Nigeria, our own Southwest state governors still manage to uphold our Yoruba nation’s standards in many respects, and usually belong to the highest levels of accomplishment among Nigeria’s rulers. I cherish a fatherly pride to be here today in the company of one of our most deserving young men – one of our younger men who are carving places of honour for themselves in our future leadership as a people.  I congratulate our father, Chief Fasoranti, for having such eminently deserving sons as Governor Mimiko.
When young people of my age were beginning to step like toddlers onto the political stage of the then Ondo Province of Nigeria in the years about Nigeria’s independence, Chief Fasoranti was one of the brightest lights illuminating our way. Calm in even the most challenging situations, diligent in ascertaining the facts of every development, brave in battle, selfless, self-effacing, and never running away from making sacrifices, for ever ready to  accept our failings in whatever mistakes our group might make, and for ever capable of leading to provide answers to such failings, always solid out there as a rock no matter what our adversaries might throw at us or at him, Chief Fasoranti has led us in these parts through the political life of Ondo Province, the larger Ondo State, today’s smaller Ondo State, and through our successes and vissicitudes in the rocky politics of Nigeria.
My wife and I congratulate you, Sir, on this your 90th birthday, and we wish you many more years – or indeed many more decades – of health and strength in the service of our people, our nation, and of Nigeria.
And I bring greetings from the leadership of Oodua Foundation in America, and from Oodua Foundation members in various countries of the world.
In his monumental book, Cities in Civilization, Sir Peter Hill wrote, “every great burst of creativity in human history – – – was an urban phenomenon; – – – every golden age of which we know was an urban age”.
In the history of Black Africa in the course of the past 1000 years, the Yoruba nation has led in the creation of an urban civilization. After founding our first city of Ife in the 10th century AD, our forefathers embarked on founding cities and towns like Ife all over our homeland. Most of the larger cities were walled.  Most were founded between the 10th century and the 15th century. By the time the first European explorers reached the coasts of West Africa in about 1470, virtually all of the cities and towns that we Yoruba have today were already in existence. A few more were added in the 19th century.
The first European explorer to enter into the interior of Yorubaland did so in December 1825 and, to his surprise, he found cities and towns at short distances as he travelled. These cities and towns were connected by well-kept roads guarded by armed men in the service of the Obas’ governments. He saw extensive and well-kept farms all along the roads, met caravans of traders and porters travelling day and night, visited sprawling market-places where thousands of traders were busy trading in each town, and saw gorgeously dressed Obas and their chiefs in council meetings in the Yoruba palaces. He remarked again and again that Yoruba people were cleanly dressed, comfortable, fashionable, wonderful artists and lovers of art, had great respect for the law, were proud of themselves, and were very hospitable. No other people in Black Africa achieved anything close to this copious urban civilization.
The above are the things that this outsider and visitor could see, and they were impressive and important. But much more important were the things he could not see. He could not see the philosophy, the principles and the ideals that underpinned and upheld the whole system of the civilization. He could not see the Omolouabi principle in which every Yoruba child was raised, and with which every Yoruba man or woman guided adult life. He could not see the Yoruba respect for human life and human dignity, or the Yoruba principle that power in society or the state belongs to the people, or that every individual deserves respect and the right to express his or her opinion, or that the people honour their rulers and the rulers dutifully respect their people. And he could not see the capping ideology of the “common welfare” that suffused and dignified society and the individual, and that imparted the uniquely Yoruba character to all organs of leadership and governance in Yoruba society, in Yoruba families, in Yoruba professions and enterprises, in Yoruba civic organizations, and in Yoruba interpersonal relationships. These philosophies, principles and ideals were the highest points in the achievements of Yoruba urban civilization.
In conformity with the welfare ideology, all leadership and governance among Yoruba people was dedicated to seeking and promoting the well-being of the people. Yoruba leadership and governance usually exhibited very little of command and control. For instance, as the Obas and their councils of chiefs held meetings daily in palaces across Yorubaland, the principal business was to find ways to protect and promote the well-being of the people – to seek the help of the higher powers so that rains might come regularly and prosper the farmers’ farms, so that workmen might not suffer accidents at work, so that peace might reign in the marketplaces and the traders might make profits, so that travellers might be protected from mishaps on the way, so that women of child-bearing age might be blessed with children, so that epidemics, drought and civil commotions might be kept away, so that the city might grow in population and even break beyond its walls.
The Obas’ governments were also very dutiful in many practical functions. They saw to it that the roads were kept clean and safe for traders and other travellers. They made and executed laws to ensure the safety of the highways even if there was war. For example, at one place on a road, the 1825 explorer came upon a crowd of traders who had heard that some criminals might be nearby and who could not continue with their journey. The explorer recorded that, very soon, many armed guards arrived from the Oba of the area, and protected the traders on their journey. The Obas’ governments equally diligently provided security officials in all marketplaces. And the diligent protection was extended to foreign traders as well.
At lower levels of Yoruba society, the welfare ideology equally prevailed. In each Yoruba lineage compound (agbo-ile), very good care was provided for all children. And very thorough provisions were made for the aged and the infirm. As a result, drastic deprivations such as destitution or street begging were virtually impossible among Yoruba people. The German professor, Ulli Beier, who lived for many years in Yorubaland in the 1950s and 1960s, wrote that he never saw any Yoruba beggar or any abandoned Yoruba person in the streets.
Even among those Yoruba who were taken as slaves to the Americas in the era of the Atlantic slave trade, the welfare ideology was preserved far from home. One writer who observed them closely in those lands wrote about them in the 1850s that “the principle of combination for the common weal has been fully sustained wherever they have settled in any numbers; in fact, the whole Yoruba race may be said to form a sort of social league for mutual support and protection”. This was one of the reasons why Yoruba slaves tended to get more respect and more influence than other African slaves in those lands. It is also one of the reasons why Yoruba culture contributed far much more than any other African culture to the making of the civilizations of the Americas.
In the first years of the 20th century, the beginning of British rule over most of the Yoruba nation, the first generation of Western-educated Yoruba people immediately began to give new and dynamic expressions to their nation’s ideology of Afenifere. They formed themselves into various local Progressive Unions or Development Associations which sought to spread the benefits of the new modern changes into the lives of their people. In particular, they engaged in various efforts to encourage Yoruba parents to send their children to school. They also engaged in community development programmes. In the 1940s, the veterans of these local Associations and Unions finally founded a pan-Yoruba organization, Egbe Omo Oduduwa,  to pursue broad plans and programmes for the advancement of Yorubaland in Nigeria.
Because the Yoruba people are products of this centuries-old civilization of the common welfare ideology, the Yoruba are unique in their political and social attitudes and sensitivities.  They are intensely freedom-loving. They expect to be decently respected by the people who rule over them. They hate the use of leadership for self-centred and crooked purposes. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why masses of Yoruba people are experiencing serious stress about their nation’s membership in Nigeria today – they fear that Nigeria’s culture of public corruption and impunity is destroying their nation’s splendid culture of leadership and governance which has always emphasized serious concentration on seeking the people’s common well-being. The Yoruba tend to put up more determined resistance to election manipulations and rigging in Nigeria, and many of their youths die often in the fight against election rigging. The Yoruba are usually more active in demonstrations and other actions against injustice – even when the fight is not for their benefit but for the benefit of others.
Moreover, the Yoruba have a profound culture of religious tolerance. Unlike among most other nations worldwide, Yoruba people of different religions live harmoniously in the same homes and communities, marry and raise families together, join in each other’s joys and festivities, and work together for the good of their communities.  Yoruba of all religions are therefore unhappy about the religious conflicts and pressures that are perpetually emanating from some other parts of Nigeria.
The Yoruba also have a strong culture of openly welcoming immigrants from other ethnic groups and cultures. If the Yoruba do migrate to other cultures, they very carefully respect their hosts there. They do not get the same kind of respect from many immigrants who come to Yorubaland from other parts of Nigeria these days, and still, they keep welcoming and including the immigrants.
In short, we Yoruba have very unique clarity and focus about the description of the kind of country that we want, and deserve, to belong to – and more and more of us are now saying that Nigeria does not answer, and can never answer, to that description.
That, in brief, is the content of the Yoruba peoples’ welfare ideology – or Afenifere ideology. We Yoruba, individually and collectively, desire prosperity for ourselves; we desire prosperity for our neighbours; and we desire prosperity for all citizens of the country of Nigeria to which we belong. We are deeply grateful to our forefathers for evolving this wonderful ideology and for bequeathing it to us. We do not despise other nations for not having the same or similar ideology. But we will defend and preserve our ideology with all our strength, and we will never let any other nation or nations, or any circumstance whatsoever, rob us of it.
 Unfortunately, since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, the affairs of Nigeria have been managed in ways that poignantly negate the Yoruba welfare ideology, and that seriously hurt the interests of the Yoruba nation and of other nations of Nigeria. In the decade before 1960, Nigeria was managed as a federation of three Regions, in recognition of Nigeria’s ethnic national diversity. Each Region had its own constitution, and managed its own resources and its own affairs in its own way. By rivalling one another, the three Regions achieved much in development, and made Nigeria a land of hope for all.  The Western Region, to which we Yoruba belonged, achieved the greatest and best of the three – because our leaders were motivated by the Afenifere ideology. The only weakness in the Nigerian arrangement of the time was that each of the three Regions contained one large nationality and many small nationalities. The small nationalities in each Region combined to demand a Region of their own, but the British rulers of Nigeria refused to grant it to them. In accordance with the Yoruba welfare ideology, Yoruba leaders stepped out and supported the demands of the small nationalities. They even wrote books to explain that, for a multi-nation country like Nigeria, a federal system of government was the only sustainable arrangement, and that the making of the federating units must respect the nationalities.
This was the situation as Nigeria became independent. Then, the persons in control of the Federal Government decided that the Regions were too independent and too strong, and that they needed to be weakened in order to make the Federal Government, and the controllers of the Federal Government, masters of all. In 1962, they embarked on this ill-advised adventure by attacking the Western Region, by meddling with its leadership, by suspending its elected government and installing a sole administrator over it, and by rigging its elections.
But their adventure soon back-fired, and that led to destructive revolts, military coups, massive inter-ethnic blood-letting, and a civil war. The same elements that controlled the Federal Government seized upon this confusion to build a military-civilian axis that then proceeded to complete the fulfilment of their plan to give Nigeria an all-controlling Federal Government. Their belief was that an all-controlling Federal Government benefited the elite of their part of Nigeria. When oil from the Niger Delta became a great source of wealth for Nigeria in the 1970s, their desire to control the oil spurred them into greater acts of centralization. They ultimately succeeded in giving Nigeria a more or less unitary system of government. Their success was finally wrapped together in a dictated constitution in 1999.
But their success has devastated Nigeria. It has degraded the Federal Government into a horribly confused, incompetent and hideously corrupt government. It has promoted corruption all over Nigeria and made Nigeria one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It has weakened the states and made them cowering victims of federal manipulation. It has virtually destroyed socio-economic development initiative in all of Nigeria’s states and local government areas. It has thus pushed the masses of Nigerians into abject poverty and hopelessness. It has robbed Nigerians of all sense of loyalty, duty, morality, and dignity. It has turned Nigeria into a country that the rest of the world fears to do business with.
These disasters have resulted because it is impossible to manage a country like   Nigeria successfully under a unitary government. Nigeria is not a nation; it is a country of about 300 nationalities, each of which lives in its own ancestral homeland, and each of which cherishes its own culture, its own way of doing things, its own desires and expectations, its own image of itself, and its own national pride. Many of these nationalities may be small, but many others are so large in territory and population that they easily rank among the largest ethnic nations in the world. Our own Yoruba nation is one of these largest nations. Others are the Igbo, the Hausa-Fulani, the Ijaw, the Kanuri, and somewhat smaller ones like the Edo, the Urhobo, the Nupe, the Tiv, the Igala – forgive me if I omit any.
Of the 53 countries of Western and Eastern Europe, our Yoruba nation is larger in population than about 48. Of the over 230 countries that are members of the United Nations, only 21 are larger than our Yoruba nation; we are larger than everyone of all the rest. Of the 54 countries of Africa, only four are larger than our Yoruba nation, and we are larger than all the remaining 50. In population, we Yoruba are larger than the five countries – Benin, Togo, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Gambia – together.
What all these facts and statistics mean is that many of our nationalities in Nigeria are the equals or superiors of most of the countries we deal with in the world, countries that Nigeria sometimes goes to for aid. Many of our nationalities do not need to be part of any larger country to fulfil their destinies as nations in the world. A separate sovereign country of the Yoruba, or Igbo, or Hausa, or Ijaw, or Kanuri, to mention only a few, has all it needs to live in success and dignity in the world. Nigeria is fortunate to have these nations in Nigeria. Nigeria needs them more than they need Nigeria. Therefore, Nigeria must learn to treat them with respect. Even the smallest of our nationalities deserves to be treated with respect. That is the only way Nigeria can live in harmony and achieve prosperity.
That is the way we Yoruba think of Nigeria. I repeat that we Yoruba want to prosper in Nigeria; and we want every other Nigerian nationality to prosper in Nigeria. That is what our welfare ideology commands of us. We disagree completely with those who think, and who have been saying, that to build Nigeria into a united country, the various nationalities of Nigeria must be weakened and subdued – and even destroyed. We reject the subtle efforts being made to destroy the languages and cultures of Nigerian nationalities, and to suppress their knowledge of their history. We reject the constant statements made by the fabricators of Nigeria’s unitary government that the nationalities in Nigeria do not exist or should not exist. We reject the constant pressure of certain larger nationalities upon the smaller nationalities of the Middle Belt, pressure occasioning sudden mass killings of their people, destruction of their villages, and the forcible occupation of their ancestral homelands. We reject any notion of superiority of any nation of Nigeria over others; we reject the notion of domination by any nation over other nations of Nigeria or over the whole of Nigeria.
For us, these are fundamental tenets and positions. Since the founding of Nigeria, we have repeatedly advocated them. Now, it is time for us to take up courage and speak up far more boldly and far more loudly than ever before for the world to hear. It is time that we serve notice that no nation that is co-member with us in this country, and no country that we may belong to as a people, has a right to push us back and down into poverty, confusion, decline, and national death. We refuse henceforth to be party, directly or indirectly, to policies and actions that aim to subdue or destroy any Nigerian nationality, no matter how small.
In the light of these tenets, we Yoruba have always advocated that the constitution of Nigeria should respect the nationalities of Nigeria, and that Nigeria should be structured as a rational federation – so that, as much as possible, each of our nationalities may manage its unique concerns in its own way, and be able to make its own kind of contribution to the overall prosperity of Nigeria. From leaders of our nationality, as well as leaders of many other nationalities, various proposals have been offered for thus restructuring the Nigerian federation peacefully. Whenever Nigerian authorities call a National Conference to consider Nigeria’s ever-worsening problems, we Yoruba have put forward these proposals. When the latest such Conference was called in 2014, we formulated these proposals very carefully, collaborated closely with leaders of various other nationalities, and succeeded considerably in getting the Conference to adopt our proposals. Our representatives contributed significantly to the limited success the conference achieved.
In contrast to our constructive Afenifere approach, those who have fabricated an over-centralized structure for the Nigerian federation tell us from time to time that they would do anything to preserve that over-centralized structure. They have even commonly threatened that they would go to war to prevent any change to it. But we Yoruba, like most other Nigerian nationalities, reject any suggestion that the problems of this country would be sorted out by war. In the interest of Nigeria, we seriously counsel that Nigeria should stop using the threat of war in its national debates. Such threats only highlight the weakness of Nigeria’s cohesion, and enhance the probability of Nigeria’s dissolution. We and the rest of Nigeria that want a rational federal structure, and that desire thereby to lay solid foundations for Nigeria’s stability, sanity, success and prosperity, must now unite determinedly to achieve those purposes peacefully, without any resort to war. We can do it.
I must now end this lecture by summarizing what I believe to be the task before the Yoruba nation, the nation of the welfare ideology, the homeland of the Afenifere ideology. We Yoruba find ourselves in a large and mightily endowed country, a country that commands the potentialities to achieve great prosperity and power in the world, a country that could easily become the Blackman’s World Power of modern times. The horrible mistake has been made by a section of our own Nigerian political elite to direct Nigeria onto the path of over-centralization, disharmony, conflicts, poverty, hopelessness, and probable ruin. Countless millions of Nigerians are suffering abominably, and Nigeria itself stands close to collapse from time to time. The Afenifere nation must now spring forth and stand more strongly in the gap, and find ways to knit together an alliance for success and prosperity.
To be able to do that, the Afenifere nation itself must find ways to mobilize unity and strength at home. We Yoruba must conceive the Afenifere ideology anew as the ideology of our whole nation, and not merely the banner of a group, or of a partisan section, among us. We must conceive it anew as the fundamental direction and task that our forebears fashioned for us and bequeathed to us as a people in the world. On the basis of that, we must evolve a new leadership structure which combines all the many leadership fragments among us, which dedicates itself faithfully as a servant of the Yoruba welfare and progressive ideology, and which is capably sustained and equipped. It is true that our strong love of freedom makes it often difficult for us to achieve instant unity. That is not a weakness; it is one of the main strengths of our nation. But when the crises of life come, the good cause must find the path to victory. I am sure that not many will disagree with me when I say that the crises of life have descended for decades onto the life of Nigeria, onto the life of the Yoruba nation in Nigeria, onto the life of all nationalities of Nigeria, and onto the life of the citizens of Nigeria.
Working together with others in the context of Nigeria, we must find ways to restructure the Nigerian federation peacefully, we must find ways to revive economic and social development initiatives in all parts of Nigeria, we must find ways to restore hope to the masses of Nigerian citizens, we must find ways to persuade various aggrieved peoples of Nigeria (such as the angry youths of the Niger Delta, the Igbo youth advocates of Biafra, the youths investing their talents in Boko Haram in the Northeast, and others) to stop hitting at Nigeria, to lay down their arms now and forever, to join hands with the rest of Nigeria to create a harmonious structure for Nigeria, and to turn Nigeria’s destiny around for the good for all Nigerians. The end objective must be to make all Nigerian peoples happy to belong to a harmonious family of equal Nigerian nationalities, and to give every Nigerian citizen a confident hope in life more abundant.
We Yoruba nation must demand that, as a matter of overriding state principle, Nigeria must henceforth employ peaceful negotiations rather than military violence to find solutions to Nigeria’s difficulties. We must demand that President Buhari should lead Nigeria to embark on serious and far-reaching discussions with the leaders, peoples and militants of the Niger Delta, the hurting peoples of the Middle Belt desperately in need of security, the Igbo citizens demanding Biafra, the Yoruba people intensely demanding national autonomy for the benefit of all Nigerian peoples, and the Hausa-Fulani insisting on an over-centralized federation for the defence of their interests. Nigeria must also acknowledge each Nigerian nationality as primary owner, primary developer, and primary beneficiary of its resources, and the Federal Government as authority vested with power of taxation over the exploitation and transactions of all resources. Rulers of Nigeria must cease behaving as if Nigeria is always set on fighting many wars on many fronts against various Nigerian peoples.
Working together also with other peoples of Nigeria, we the Afenifere nation must rise up to give dedicated support to the war against public corruption which the president of Nigeria is now fighting. There is no doubt that if President Buhari, with the support of most Nigerians, makes a success of this anti-corruption war, great new doors will open to a new Nigeria – a new Nigeria of sanity, prosperity and hope for all Nigerians.
We the Afenifere nation, also working with other Nigerian peoples, must work to ensure that sane solutions will be found to the tortuous crisis which armed and murderous herdsmen are currently generating in most parts of Nigeria. The whirlwind of fears and agitated comments now sweeping through Nigeria does not bode well for Nigeria. To achieve effective and lasting solution, the President of Nigeria must set up some measure to ascertain the true facts of this situation. Merely ordering the Nigerian military and police to stop these herdsmen from attacking farmers and villagers, as the president has done, is not enough. The military and police may succeed in restraining these people to some extent and for some time, but as long as they remain and important questions about them remain unexplained, wild and inflammatory speculations will continue to rattle Nigeria. From no more than the materials in the open media, many questions pointedly call for answers.
Who really are these so-called Fulani herdsmen? Even though it is known that the civil commotions in the Maghreb (especially in Libya) makes it easy to get sophisticated weapons in the Sahel parts of West Africa, some critical questions still need to be answered: How do ordinary nomadic herdsmen afford to buy expensive things like AK47 Rifles; how do they get trained to use such sophisticated weapons; is any rich or influential person or group supplying them with these weapons and/or training them; if yes, who are these rich or influential persons and what are they trying to achieve?
President Buhari was recently reported to have revealed in an interview with CNN in London that some of these herdsmen are really Libyan militiamen, trained under Ghadafi, well-armed desperadoes who fled southwards to West Africa after the fall of Ghadafi. If so, how did these militiamen become cattle herdsmen? Who gave them thousands of cattle to herd? Our president said that these militiamen have become an Africa-wide problem. Why did the government of Nigeria not inform Nigeria about this problem, and why did the government not take action to stop them from coming into Nigeria? Why have some prominent Fulani leaders been representing these militiamen to us as merely Fulani herdsmen and claiming Nigerian citizens’ rights for them? Why have some Fulani spokesmen been threatening that they would break up Nigeria if these Libyan militiamen are thrown out of Nigeria? Do we now have the president’s word that Nigeria is now under invasion by Libyan militiamen, and what does the Nigerian government intend to do about that?
Is this indeed an insurgency aimed at achieving political objectives, and planned by very influential Nigerians – as a seasoned Middle Belt politician said in 2014? When some Arewa North citizens have threatened war in recent years and assured us that the North is more ready for war than the South, is this part of what they have been talking about? Is it that some influential Nigerians have hired Libyan militiamen to wage war against some parts of Nigeria?
An important citizen, who claimed to be speaking for the Fulani nation, wrote in 2014 that, to keep control over Nigeria, the Hausa-Fulani would “kill, maim and destroy – – – and turn Nigeria into the largest refugee camp in Africa”; that “the Mujaheedin are ready, and by Allah, we shall win”, etc. Is the rampage now going on part of what he was talking about? Are these Libyan militiamen, (whom Ghadafi named Mujaheedin) the Mujaheedin that this important Nigerian citizen was bragging about? Are we now seeing part of the outcome of the secret importations of arms to Nigeria that the media have been reporting repeatedly since 2013?
The “grazing reserves”, are they designed by some people to house illegal armies of occupation in the states of the Middle Belt and the South? Are they meant to be also jihadist instruments for forcible Islamization of Nigerians? Or are they designed as weapons of one ethnic group’s conquest of other Nigerians?
Speculations along these various lines are rife in the media. The President of Nigeria owes Nigeria a clear and certifiable statement on this situation. The President of Nigeria also deserves, and must have, the support of the Afenifere nation, and of other Nigerian peoples, as he investigates these matters, as he explains to Nigeria, and as he strives to remove this immense new challenge from the life of our country. We Yoruba must also get our state governors to set up security apparatuses adequate for protecting our farmlands – as the Governor of Enugu State has already done for his state.
Moreover, beyond politics, has Nigeria not reached the point in its history when a modern solution should be found for the production of cattle? What the peoples of most parts of Nigeria are saying is that having nomadic cattle herds that destroy the handwork of farmers is backward and unacceptable in our present state of development. From all that is publicly known, the cattle herds do not belong to the herdsmen but to some rich citizens; the herdsmen are only labourers. Yoruba sensitivities totally reject having government seize parts of our farmlands and evict our farmers in order to create grazing reserves for some rich men’s cattle from anywhere. We are aware that many other Nigerian peoples feel the same way.
Also, now that traditional cattle herding is hurting many peoples by destroying lots of valuable property and killing lots of farmers, is it not obvious that its continuation can only provoke more and more determined resistance and violence? Are these developments not a sufficient reason for finding ways to bring traditional cattle rearing to an end in Nigeria, and for vigorously promoting modern ranching – using states’ resources, with federal assistance, to encourage and help rich owners of cattle to establish modern cattle ranches in their own states?  Needless to say, this will benefit a lot of substantial citizens in the North, and also change for the better the lives of a whole class of traditional nomadic herdsmen. And it will advance considerably Nigeria’s development and prosperity.
We Yoruba must use our northern grasslands, from the Oworo grasslands near Lokoja to the Yewa grasslands near the Benin Republic border, to create modern ranches owned by our own people, and thus open up a new field of wealth for ourselves and our nation. We must urge our state governments to promote and assist this, and urge our people to take advantage of it. Hopefully too, other nationalities in the South and Middle Belt will do the same, and Nigeria will benefit greatly from the whole development.
I am aware that I am laying out a lot of tasks for our nation. But these are tasks that the present time demands in the life of our nation. I can only hope that we all now see the need, the desperate need, for a new and strong Yoruba leadership structure that is capable to face these tasks creditably.
I am sure that our father, Chief Fasoranti, would forgive my seeing him, in these tasks, as the major player that he has been in our nation’s history. Some days ago, I telephoned him and, among other things, wished him more decades of service to our nation. He answered that his body was no longer that strong, and I quickly interjected, “That may be so Sir, but your spirit is still as strong as ever, and we love and trust you as ever”.
Long live Chief Fasoranti. Long live Odua’s nation.
Thank you all.
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