Pan Yoruba, civil society groups target 40m voters in South West
By Abiodun Ojo
A coalition of several pan Yoruba and civil society groups have launched the campaign for a minimum of 40million voters in the old Western region comprising of the current six South West States and Delta, Edo States. The group also targets Yoruba in Kwara, Kogi States.
The project, according to the group is driven by the quest to explore the full political strength of the Yoruba nation and also to tell the world what “we can do with the population of the people of the old Western Region.”
In a statement on Thursday made available to Irohinoodua, the Alliance for Yoruba Democratic Movements, (AYDM) said the campaign is not affiliated with any political party but aimed at energizing the Yoruba and people of the old Western Region to be able to get what they want using their population strength as a bargaining chip.
The group said the project will further assert the strength and dominion of Yoruba people and open up understanding on the real population of the people of the old Western Region. The AYDM is a coalition of 88 civil society and Pan Yoruba groups launched in Lagos late December last year.
“Population is strength. For over half a century, the Yoruba people and the old Western Region including Edo and Delta, plus Kwara and Kogi States have been undermined in terms of our numerical strength. It began during the 1952 Census conducted by imperialist forces that gave figures to nationality groups based on their own vested interests”, the AYDM General Secretary Mr Popoola Ajayi said in the statement released on Thursday. The group said in the 1980s, the South West produced millions of voters but that the figures have continued to diminish in arithmetic progression. He said the underestimation of the South West voting strength is partly responsible for the inability of the people to take over power and run country to addressed the grievances of various agitated groups.
In the 2015 elections, AYDM said less than 20 percent of the eligible voters in this focal point registered, in 2011, the percentage dropped to 18 percent while in 2019, the number of registered voters was less about 17 percent of eligible voters. ‘This has placed the region at a gross disadvantage,’ the group said adding that it is ridiculous that Lagos with a population of some 18 million with 10 million eligible voters came up with less than 1.8 million votes in 2019. The group said it will be difficult for politicians to mobilise the people to obtain voters cards and that the best option is a mobilization project driven by non-state actors who enjoy the trust of the organization calling on them to register.
The AYDM plans to complete the setting up of state structures in all the concerned states before the end of February 2022 with the mandate to mobilise active and docile Yoruba people in rural, urban areas including peasants, workers, farmers, students, rich and poor who have developed cold feet against the electoral system due to years of exploitation and mis-governance by those elected to lead the people.
The group said its position is grounded on the possibility of holding the forthcoming elections and the need for the old Western Region to have appropriate response to the situation.
“We are aware of internal and external threats to the forthcoming elections and even the fact that elections have been discredited and threatened by social ills and misfortunes caused by the exploitative ruling class. This means that the people of the South West should have a masterplan including appropriate response to the forthcoming elections if the elections will hold in Nigeria”, AYDM said.
Some members of the Alliance include but not limited to ANACOWA, representing Okada riders in the South West, Agbekoya, South West Professionals, (SOWPROF), South West Civil Society Coalition, (SWCC), Green Peoples Environmental Network, (GREPNET), South West Farmers Solidarity Front, (SWFSF), O’odua Nationalist Coalition, (ONAC), South West Automobile Technicians Association, (NATA), O’odua Peoples Congress, (New Era), Covenant Group, (CG), South West Vigilante Groups, (SWVG),O’odua Peoples Congress, (Reformed), Yoruba Women Congress, (YOWEC), Apapo O’odua Koya, (AOKOYA), Oodua Students Coalition, (OSC) and many groups from Itsekiri, Edo, Kwara and Kogi States.