The endless enslavement of Yoruba Nation: My experience in the Army

By Lt Col Ogundele (Rtd).

I discovered that the Yoruba have no social regulations that guide both the indigenous people and the settlers, or might have lost such regulations through colonialism and amalgamation that brought strangers into interference and leadership position in Oodua land to make laws. In so doing, it could be that the interpolation or introduction of government laws and indigenous local societal norms soon found a divergence where good characters and moral values got deformed, leading to societal dysfunction. This situation led to the flagrant abuse of the entire Yoruba substance and essence by those strangers who were privileged to hold power, in helping their people to migrate into a ‘New found land’ (or the no man’s land) like lords and conquerors subtly and gradually.

Therefore, when the Yoruba were being abused, we never realised it, until we totally lost our respects to liberalism and hospitable mentality. We lost respect of value acquisition too to satisfy the requirements of Federal regulations of the Nigeria nation. We therefore promoted this imported new social order and imposed it upon our land without realizing its hidden objective to our existential survival.

We employed foreigners to teach our children to no longer be Yoruba but ‘Nigerian child’.

Even people of other tribes who were given employments as teachers in our land were not obliged to teach Yoruba children their language and values. We labeled our language vernacular and made it to be inferior to English. If we did respect our values, why employ Igbo, or Ijaw or Efik at all, as teachers to groom our children from nursery to secondary levels? Where are the books of Yoruba history, culture, philosophies and mythologies?

  • Táíwò Kẹ́hìndé.
  • Aláwìíyé.
  • Ojú lówó Yorùbá.
  • Ìrèké Oníbùdó.
  • Ìrìnkèrindò Nínú Igbó Elégbèje.
  • Ògbójú Ọdẹ Nínú Igbó Irúnmọlẹ̀
  • Modern Lessons in Yoruba.
  • etc

Were Igbo teachers given these books to teach our children? What were the criteria for employing them in Yorùbá school system?
Yorùbá children got the abuses and punishment for daring to speak ‘vernacular’ in the classrooms in their natal boroughs. That was the beginning of the loss of identity that the Yorùbá suffered just because, Lagos was the Capital of Nigeria.

Noticing the fragile relationship already setup in Yorùbáland, they went ahead to split us the more with religion.

We least expected high calibre officers like Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha to be enmeshed in such religious sentimentality; they being products of orientation in a secular organisation like the Army. That one took us by surprise and beat everyone’s imagination.

We cannot forget how that affected the Yorùbá psychologically and with grave social disharmony, which is still here till today, as assisted by Chief Mashood Abiola (MKO) their friend, the vanguard of Islamic supremacy in all administrative sectors.

During MKO’s preparation to get set to be President, so many religious sponsored campaign tenacities were carried out whose development was strange to Yorùbá people.

Churches in Yorùbáland had to resort to posting on the Church entrances’ Notice Boards anti divisive creeds of Yoruba oneness weekly.

The Church Authorities were doing that to diffuse the divisive tendency in their congregations, which was being created by Babangida and MKO among the Muslims over the OIC saga.

The belief was that when Christian children saw those things and read them, they would continue to love their Muslim neighbours, brothers, sisters and friends at schools. And in so doing, such religious hate campaigns would not take root in them. Some of the unity creeds in the Churches read like this:

  • “We Yoruba are one and only one family, both Christians and Muslim in our fathers households.
  • We cannot survive religious acrimony if created in our society”.
  • “This is a ploy to conquer the Yoruba with religious differences. It is not in our character. We have intermarried and we are products of both Muslims and Christians”.
  • etc.

Until MKO was given the secret Treatise and treatment of Northern Interest, he never understood Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and the reason for his nonacceptance by the North.

At that time again, at the door posts and Notice Boards of Churches all over the Cathedrals in Lagos, the Creeds had changed from religious threats to:

  • we strongly oppose the annulment of the presidential elections.
  • hand over power to the acclaimed winner of the June 12th elections.
  • we Yoruba eschew violence and injustice.
  • we can’t afford another civil war.
  • etc.

I went to Lagos briefly from Zaria before President Babangida ‘Stepped Aside’.

During MKO’s travails, the News Commentaries on Kaduna Radio by one Abdulkudri was a flagrant abuse of the Yoruba race, Chief Awolowo and MKO; putting them side by side. In one edition, on the June 12th political imbroglio, the Yorùbás were referred to as Area-boys politicians in the broadcast.

That was when I knew Alhaji Yakasai as an abuser of Yoruba in raw and foul language.

At Zaria then, I asked myself, what was our offence? Even the Igbos that cause the first coup massacre and fought the Nigeria at Civil War and are still fighting the north, were never insulted like what I saw. Haba! What was the crime of the Yoruba? Is it because one of us wanted to be a president legitimately? Those were the questions (and many more) that, as an Army Officer, I charged myself to provide answers to, no matter how long it took me.

That was the time when one Fulani 2nd Lieutenant in the Nigerian Military School told us Yoruba officers to our faces that MKO would not be president, but Sonekan would be Head of Interim Government ditto ditto ditto, he gave us on a plain slate and it all happened as he said. “Abacha would be a Khalifa to Babangida” (coming behind or Successor). So it was.

When those things happened, and Abacha came reading a riot act, I asked myself again, what was our crime, as Yoruba people? Chukwumerije too as propaganda Commissioner got set to work against NADECO and the OPC.

I was at Lagos Garrison (81 Division now) with Gen Bamayi as Commander. There, it was a tense atmosphere. I didn’t like it, he was talking tough against NADECO and Yoruba in the Officers Mess. When I moved to 82 Div he came again in the same tone of speech. Yoruba and General Oladipo Diya and others were the objects of references and ridicule, in his address to officers on the supposedly failed coup.

We leave the floor to our historic narrators, what our offences were to Igbos, Fulani, Hausa etc. Don’t even talk of Idomas and Igbira. They detest Yoruba with passion. Kilode?

There was a day in 1995, when an Igbira Major said to me that, Awolowo was the one who prevented his people from developing and made them educationally disadvantaged, and I asked him if Okene was once under Western Region when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was Premier. He could not give me any answer. I inquired no further, because at that rank as a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, he had not recovered himself. I knew he would ever be disillusioned with acrimony.

Later, I said to myself, we must know the crime that the Yoruba committed against Nigeria, that whenever a Yoruba man wanted to be President, similar scenarios are created to heat up the atmosphere for an upheaval.
One day we shall ask the Igbos and Fulani. Yoruba fought and won the civil war with Awolowo as the strategist, but still command no respect of the Northern elements. Igbos also concocted poisonous narratives, laid down for their generations following them.

The religious acrimony that was set up against the Yoruba is still there with our suspicion against one another, a disease which we did not meet when we were born, but that was imported by Hausa/Fulani from the North and the well favoured or indoctrinated Muslims from Kwara. Unlike the Yoruba Christian organisations that often react against such, Muslims in Yorùbáland feel unperturbed, they naively dance to the divisive music of outsiders. They’ll rather whip up ‘the Hijab War’ in Government and mission Schools as a pride to satisfy their assumed equality of religiosity with northerner, who still call them inferior Muslims.

If Fulani noticed that there is a strange development that seems to affect the quality of content of their social norms, they fight it and fight the system that promotes it (e g Boko-Haram against Western Education). That is why they crave for power to preserve their own interests. Does this happen with Yoruba? No! No Yoruba interest. That is Tribalism < Grammar.

What brought abuses and insults to Yoruba hegemony was the dissipation of the social order by the criminal and civil laws of oppression, educational curriculum and religious doctrines that are not reflective of the people’s views of their social and public life. May be because Lagos accommodated all the people outside Yoruba land and therefore, contents of instructions do not have to reflect on the heritage of the people of the land. That means, the land has been conquered. Since it is under other social principles, its people do not have to maintain their identity and self preservation anymore. In so doing when the Yoruba are being offended, they are no longer aware of it, because we never saw it coming that many things were getting lost about the social standards that we were supposed to preserve.

In Social Criminology, Emile Durkheim says,
“If we say that crime is relative; it then means that what constitutes a crime in one society may not necessarily be a crime in another society. This is as a result of cultural variability”.

In that regard, we take it that, crimes being committed against the Yoruba nation is as a result of her not being enabled to maintain her century long inherent social principles in educational developments due to Nigerianization and through Lagos as the Capital of Nigeria, because other citizens of varying cultures came to take their pride of place in our midst. May be by the overriding Western Education of Federal powers controlled by strangers from other cultural backgrounds that formulated policies, everything about Yoruba values was altered. Crimes were then being committed against the Yoruba intrinsic custom without us taking cognizance.

According to Emile Durkheim (1893); the sociologist again,

  • “crime is as a result of a necessary consequence of the existence of a collectively supported morality.”

This can be explained that either the strangers that came to Yoruba land formulating and living under the Federal Government policies did not meet any social moral standards in practice or they suppressed it, and that is the question that needs to be revisited. Or how could Yoruba not be able to detect that crimes were being committed against the norms and values of their society, let alone to possess the power to inflict retribution as measures of discipline in order to stop the slide into defeat, if the norms were there?

Durkheim says,
“Crime can be seen as a necessary part of every social order because every social order needs a collectively supported morality.”

He uses laws as an indicator of moral norms.
He divided laws into two kinds:
(a) Criminal Laws.
(b) Civil Administrative Laws.
He therefore said,
” A violation of criminal laws constitutes a violation of the collective conscience.

This character code could also apply to strangers in Yorùbáland, – which an indigenous person would have been groomed to maintaining its adherence from the cradle. In the same vein, the teacher is at the school to impart in the children and inculcate the value system for proper integration with the society. If strangers in Yorubaland therefore violated the moral code which he met, then let him face the consequences.

Emile says,
“As it is also, since it is obvious that a person who violates a society’s law invites society’s anger and must be disciplined.” How have the Yoruba been handling justices to the offensive Igbos, Fulani, Hausa and others who dwell with us in Oodua territory by virtue of Federal Services and official presence?

Durkheim asserts that “an action does not shock the common conscience because it is criminal; rather it is criminal because it shocks the common conscience. We do not reprove it as a crime, but it is a crime because we reprove it”. That is when the rules and regulations set for yourself is being violated by visitors, it is regarded as an insult and a crime, to be faced with the consequences.

In Northern Nigeria, for example, Islamic laws are to be kept whether one is brought up in it or not and as a stranger, ignorance of it is not an excuse. It attracts death by lynching if there is a slip.

The case of Akaluka in Kano, during Gen Ibrahim Babangida’s regime was a typical example. He was retrieved by the Police from the initial mob-action into a safe custody. Sooner or later, the mob broke into the Police Station and got him back on the ground that it was a Penal Code Offence (of Islamic Jurisdiction) for them to administer justice, for allegedly cleaning defecation with an Arabic sheet of paper. This is the point of interest on societal norms which non indigenous fellows must follow to keep and be careful. To know it, the safer for you.

Because it does not happen in Yorùbáland this way, strangers have no behavioural boundaries therefore, they insult Yoruba and our leaders with impunity and hold us in contempt.

This is where things went wrong for the Yoruba as we go to other places and keep to their laws, but right in our homes in Yoruba land, the same people keep us low to their whims and caprices. Taking the advantage of their positions in Federal and States laws, they submit law proposals that give everybody equal rights and treatments irrespective of the preservation of our core values. They killed every native qualities of Yoruba philosophical expression in the system, being completely absent in administrative actions.

This is exactly what we mean by a conquest. We are not expected to draw inferences from something none existing, but by what actually happens and are palpable in all socio-cultural, socio-political and socio-economic behaviours of our people.

On the political aspect, whenever I see a young Fulani or Hausa officer, I see in him an inspired hope of a General, just waiting for his time to come. Becoming a General to them means authority, unlike us the Yoruba, not over his own people, rather over the affairs of the organisation of the Nigeria state, and for Northern Interest alone.

In those days, they used to relocate Military formations of heavy armaments to their villages at will. Today, one would upgrade the Battalion Unit in his village to a Brigade or select a place in his local government to establish an Army University. The one that has no Army Unit in his village will create one from his formation. Before the end of his tenure, he must have given his own nativity its own take of the Nigeria resources. That is what it means to be a Northern General in Nigeria. The day a Yoruba General would breathe like a real officer, he may get a warning shot. He will then appear on the ‘watch list’ to be faded out one way or another. This thing is irritating, to me it is. I don’t think my reader is comfortable with it also.

There must be a change, if there is a chance to do so. It only needs the impetus to act. I don’t believe that getting out of Nigeria is the solution when we least understood what actually is wrong with us.

Fulani and Hausa will come to Yoruba land and act with impunity. Yoruba can not react against them in the North, no matter what they did.

Igbos came together and launched MASSOP in Satellite Town, Lagos with songs of triumph. At that time, I was in Enugu. No pump and pageantry there. The city was calm. I don’t blame them. The Yoruba have no laws that strangers in the land are subject to. That is Yoruba land. Who is in control?

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