Following the insinuation of the looming incursion of Boko Haram insurgents into the South West geopolitical zone, Yoruba leaders, under the aegis of Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF), Thursday declared that proactive steps have been taken to curtail the incursion.
There had been wide spread speculation about the plan of members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect into the region which had hightened the tension in the region.
The leaders, who converged on the Ikenne, Ogun State residence of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo met under the leadership of Yeye Oodua, Chief (Mrs) HID Awolowo, allayed the fears of the people in the region over the incursion of Boko Haram.
Yoruba elders also called on President Goodluck Jonathan and all organs of government especially the Judiciary to prosecute the war against corruption without fear or favour.
They urged Yoruba leaders irrespective of political affiliation to join forces and protect the socio-economic and political interests of the region on account of what they described as marginalisation of Yoruba land.
In a communique signed by retired Archbishop of Akure Diocese, Rt. Rev. Bolanle Gbonigi; and Senator Femi Okurounmu and made available to reporters stated that the meeting unanimously endorsed the report of the Uyo meeting and ratified its decision.
The forum said “the meeting examined seriously the security situation in Yoruba land, the possibility of Boko Haram incursion into the zone and took proactive steps to ensure the zone is not caught unprepared”.
It further said the meeting had resolved to intensify efforts to ensure that Yorubas, who have not yet identified with YUF are brought into its fold soon.
The forum which deferred the adoption of Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) draft constitution to a later date, however pointed out that the SNPA was not a gang-up against the North but to strengthen the unity of the country.
According to the forum,the SNPA was jointly set up in July in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State by delegates from the South-South, South-East and South-West zones.
Lamenting the continued threat to lives and property in some parts of the country especially by the activities of the Boko Haram Sect that have led to increasing loss of innocent lives especially Christians and Southerners and worsening corruption, the group asked the President to take urgent steps towards convening a National Conference to produce a truly people’s federal constitution to guarantee a united and stable Nigerian nation.
Reading a communique jointly signed by Southern Nigeria leaders – Rt. Rev Bolanle Gbonigi (South-West), Chief Edwin Clark (South-South ) and Chief Mbazulike Amaechi (South-East), the group said the impunity with which corrupt practices were being perpetrated in the country as revealed by various probes such fuel subsidy, pension fund and Securities and Exchange Commission, has had cancerous effects on the economy.
According to the group: “The President should not hesitate to rid his government and the nation’s security forces of all persons of dubious loyalty and to treat the activities of the sect as treason and apply the relevant laws on the culprits and their sponsors.
“Leaders and elders of the North should take more pro-active responsibility to manage their restive youths with a view to bringing the Boko Haram menace to an end in the manner Southern elders and leaders have been doing to effectively manage the insurgence in their respective areas”.
It went further, “until the security situation in volatile and life threatening areas of the country improves, we insist that none of our youths should be posted to serve the compulsory one year national service in any part of these areas in the North”.
Speaking at the event, Chief HID Awolowo said the coming together of Yoruba elders under the umbrella of Yoruba Unity Forum will make Yoruba land a great nation just as she prayed that the insecurity going on in some parts of the nation will not come down to the South-West.
According to her, “We sent people to the Southern Leaders Conference in Uyo to represent us at the Southern Nigeria’s Peoples Assembly (SNPA) to solve some of the major issues affecting Yoruba land.”
Rt Rev Bolanle Gbonigi, in his submission, said it was time for Yoruba leaders and elders to work hard and come out strongly to defend their rights as Yoruba land had been marginalised for too long.
Yoruba under one umbrella
“There are lots of Yoruba groups that meet from time to time yet nothing comes out of such meetings. So there is need for all of us to come together under one umbrella to move Yoruba land and Nigeria forward.”
Speaking in the same vein, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade implored Yoruba leaders never to allow the Yoruba race to go down adding that the Yoruba race had always being on top and should remain there.
His words: “God has us on top and we should work hard in order not go go down. There is need for us to come together to ensure we do not come down. Once our minds are clear towards achieving this goal, we will continue to move up”.
Prominent personalities at the event include Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade; Mrs HID Awolowo; former Alliance for Democracy, AD Senate Leader, Senator Akinfenwa; Ondo state Deputy Governor, Ali Olanusi; former Attorney General of the federation, Prince Bola Ajibola; former Lagos state Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande; Chief Ebenezer Babatope.
Others are former Deputy Governor of Lagos state, Kofoworola Bucknor; former Minister of Health, Prof Adenike Grange; Alhaji Shitta Bey; Most Reverend Ayo Ladigbolu, OPC leader, Otunba Gani Adams; Senator Iyabo Anisulowo; Senator Anthony Adefuye,Chief Deji Ariyibi; and Reverend Dr Isaac Adeniyi.
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