The failure of Akingbasote’s idealism and the ignorance of History

By Remi Oyeyemi.

Shortly before the gubernatorial election, Mr. Wole Akingbasote, one of the champions of the so-called Yoruba liberalism had characterized the reactions to those who described Yorubaland as “no man’s land” as “tribal hatred.”

He had out of the blues, came to describe those reactions to obvious invasion of Yoruba land by the Ibo who have been insulting, abusing, disrespecting the Yoruba and lacing such obnoxious behaviors with putrid braggadocio as “tribal hatred.”

Obviously, the expectations of Mr. Akingbasote is for the authentic Yoruba sons and daughters to fold their arms akimbo while they are kicked around in their land and forced into second class or third class citizenship.

Without any doubt, Mr. Akingbasote has not read his history. He is oblivious of it. He has not been properly tutored in History. For if he was familiar with his own history and he still came out with the fallacious idealism which described stating FACTS about the noxious behavior as characterized by aggression of the Ibo against the Yoruba as his evidence of “tribal hatred”, his action left so much to be desired.

Also, if he knew his history and he was so much off-the-mark with his idealism which eventually turned out to be vacuous, then he turned out to be unduly mischievous. It was an idealism that was glassy and inanimate at best. Its hollowness and seismic shallowness were put to bed in the gubernatorial election that followed on March 18, 2023.

It all started in 1945 when a group of Yoruba led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Oni Akerele, Chief Abiodun Akerele, Mr. Akintola Williams, and others founded in London, Egbe Omo Oduduwa.

As soon as this event took place, there was instant hostility from the Ibo from the East of Nigeria. Although the Ibo Union has been formed about twenty months earlier without any concern from any quarters including the Yoruba. But why should the coming together of Yoruba for their own interest irk the Ibo?

According to Joseph Appiah in “The Autobiography of an African Patriot,” published by Accra based Assempa Publishers in 1996 on pp. 160-161 recently quoted by Chinweizu as follows:

“In Nigeria itself, the new Association did not take root until 1948, when another powerful group of Yoruba leaders formed one in Lagos. The names of the founders were indeed names to conjure with among the Yorubas in the capital—Sir Akintola ( he meant Akinola) Maja and many others. It was after that great event in Lagos that Chief Awolowo himself plucked up courage to inaugurate a branch at Ibadan.

An editorial in Nigeria’s West African Pilot of September 8, 1948, which reached us in London, warned of the battle ahead.

Among many other things, the editorial carried these ominous words:

“Henceforth the cry must be one of battle against the Egbe Omo Oduduwa, its leaders at home and abroad, up hill and down dale, in the streets of Nigeria and in the streets of London and in the residence of its advocates.”

The language was familiar enough.

This was Nnamdi Azikiwe’s….” (Parenthesis mine)

I wonder what Mr. Wole Akingbasote would call this. Is this a demonstration of tribal love of the Yoruba by the Ibo? So, reacting by putting out some of these facts about Ibo hatred and aggression against the Yoruba is “tribal hatred”? What kind of philosophy is that? How is that intellectually sound?

Then there were the elections in the Western Region in 1951/52 in which NCNC was thoroughly defeated and yet wanted to form government. The Action Group had more seats in Parliament.

“At the end of poll, the standing of the parties was as follows: Action Group 38; NCNC/Independents 25; IPP 6 and Ondo Improvement League 2. Otu Edo candidates won the three Benin seats, namely, Chief SO Ighodaro, Chief Humphrey Omo-Osagie and Chief Chike Ekwuyasi. Chief Ighodaro opted for the AG, while the latter two went to the NCNC. And of the six IPP elected members, only Adegoke Adelabu joined the NCNC. The rest of them: AMA Akinloye, Chief DT Akinbiyi (who later became the Olubadan of Ibadan), Chief SO Lanlehin, Moyosore Aboderin and SA Akinyemi, opted for the Action Group. The NCNC National Secretary, the late Chief Kola Balogun had sent declaration forms to the IPP assemblymen asking them to declare for the NCNC but Chief Akinloye returned all the forms uncompleted.

The three AG secretaries who had run as independents – Adegbenro, Osuntokun and Hassan, five IPP members, one Etu Edo, and one Ondo Improvement League, Chief F.O. Awosika; and Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola (Independent, Ijebu Ode) had swollen the number of the AG elected members. All the transactions had taken place before the inauguration of the Regional Assembly on 7 January 1952. These were not known members of the NCNC, nor did the party publish their names on the list of its candidates. For over a half century, the NCNC, the Ibo political party, has yet to provide evidence to back its claim that it had won the West Regional election in 1951 and was denied the opportunity to form the government.

Then there was the 1953 Constitutional Conference in London between July and August. At that conference Nnamdi Azikwe led the Ibo to describe Lagos as “no man’s land.” (see the Report by the Conference on the Nigerian Constitution: held in London in July and August, 1953).

The Yoruba in Kogi and Kwara had a referendum to be united with their Yoruba kinsmen. It was Nnamdi Azikwe who reportedly convinced Tafawa Balewa not to actualize this after independence. To destroy Obafemi Awolowo and clip his wings in their own estimation, they created the Midwest out of the Western Region. Unknown to them, Yoruba was and is never after any extra territory. We are comfortable in our land.

Then, they put the kangaroo tribunal together to jail Obafemi Awolowo. They claimed he was trying to overthrow the government. They never showed Nigerians any cache of weapons, just all pack of lies. The judge (we should skip his name) had to lament that his “hands are tied.”

In between 1962 and 1966, a lot of water passed under the bridge. The Ibo Coup of January 15, 1966, saw to the assassination of only Yoruba and Northern leaders. Samuel Ladoke Akintola was murdered. Sir Ahmadu Bellow was murdered, Tafawa Balewa and a host of Northern officers and Yoruba officers. Conveniently, no Ibo politician or military officer was murdered!

And before we could say “jack”, Aguiyi Ironsi, the Ibo man who took over the reins of power promulgated Decree 34 of 1966 and got his kinsman, Ben Nwabueze to put together a unitary constitution with the hope that the Ibo would dominate Nigeria at the expense of the rest of Nigerians.

They ridiculed the Northerners. They mocked them on the death of Sir Ahmadu Bello. They went about their nauseating braggadocio all over the cities of the North, beating their chests. They did not bargain for revenge.

Revenge came in July 1966. The Ibo were taught a lesson. But they never learn. There was pogrom. And then the civil war. Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu started bombing Ikeja when the war had not even started. Ikeja was not even the seat of the Federal Government. What could have been the rational behind the bombing of Ikeja if not the hatred for Yoruba by the Ibo? In Mr. Wole Akingbasote’s book, this is another tribal love from the Ibo to the Yoruba! And when one states this FACT of History, it is “tribal hatred!”

It was followed by the Ibo invasion of Midwest and the Southwest until they were stopped at Ore. The pogrom happened in the North. But it was the Southwest that the Ibo decided to invade! The Ibo have always coveted Yoruba land. Like we stopped them at Ore, we will stop them across Yoruba land. Not just Lagos.

One does not have to dwell on the political betrayals of Ibo against the Yoruba, especially contemporarily. 1979, 1983, 1993. And the resurgent claims and insults on Yoruba, calling us “lazy,” and “cowards.” They disrespect our culture and tradition at will. They abuse our Obas.

Even the so-called Chinedu promised to install Ibo Obas on the same level with Yoruba Obas in our Yoruba land!

In the rancid and fetid idealism of Mr. Wole Akingbasote, responding to these kinds of insults, and with FACTS, is “tribal hatred.” And this is a journalist, who is assumed to be a Yoruba. If you do not have the balls to defend your land as Yoruba son, why are you so challenged as a journalist to be fair?

Even, Chinweizu, a Ibo himself had this to say:

“This testimony from a Ghanaian who, for many years, was a member and President of W.A.S.U. in London, should give Igbos pause about the version of the Igbo-Yoruba Cold War they have accepted. The key point is that the Ibo Union had been in existence before the Egbe Omo Oduduwa was founded. Yet Zik declared war on the Egbe Omo Oduduwa. Why? If it was because the Egbe Omo Oduduwa was not Pan-Nigerian, then what of the pre-existing Ibo Union? In other words, it wasn’t the Yoruba who introduced tribal unions and tribalist politics into Nigeria but the Igbos. But whatever his reason, Zik was the one who declared war on the Yorubas; he was the aggressor.

…… In other words, Zik is ultimately responsible for our disasters and oppression under the Caliphate. But the pertinent issue at this time is that we, not the Yorubas, are responsible for the Yoruba-Igbo feud. We are not the innocent victims of Yoruba tribalism and hatred.”

So, how does Mr. Wole Akingbasote characterize Mr. Chinweizu’s reaction? “Tribal hatred” against the Ibo by merely stating the facts? Must we be afraid to tell the truth and subscribe to putrid and self-destructive liberalism, the type being hawked by Mr. Wole Akingbasote?

Since when did hawking falsehood cocooned in moldy and malodorous pretexts become the basis of love among the constituent units in Nigeria? This is a ghoulish and ghastly idealism that serves no one well, especially the Yoruba who have been at the receiving end of insult, abuse, aggression, ingratitude, from the Ibo.

For every action, there is a reaction. But in Mr. Wole Akingbasote’s world, there ought to be no reaction to any unacceptable action from the Ibo by the Yoruba. Any such reaction, even though based on FACTS OF HISTORY, is tantamount to “tribal hatred.”

Mr. Wole Akingbasote’s idealism is very ghoulish, ghastly, and grotesque. It is self-destructive. It is too malodorous. And thank goodness, most Yoruba saw the handwriting on the wall and rejected the Ibo insurgency in Lagos.

Obiageli Ezekwesili has been hawking idiocy all over the place saying that Bola Tinubu would not be sworn in as president because her kinsman lost the presidency. It must be Ibo by all means. Paul Smith Obasi, a former Senatorial candidate on the platform of APC has been saying the same thing. All those rant by these Igbo cry-babies is not “tribal hatred,” in the books of Mr. Wole Akigbasote.

If Mr. Wole Akingbasote is driven berserk with the loss of his principal, who was also my principal in the previous cycle of elections, H.E. Atiku Abubakar, he should go and relax. A Fulani man could not spend eight years in Aso Rock to be succeeded by another Fulani in a country of over 374 ethnic nationalities. And some of us would not support an Ibo in Yoruba land if their history is anything to go by.

In fact and indeed, those Northerners who worked and voted for Bola Ahmed Tinubu are the heroes of this cycle of elections. They made a promise and they stood by it to the end. That is very honorable of them. It reminded me of what the people’s General, late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua said to a few of us (fourteen in number) in the home of the former deputy governor of Ogun State, Chief Sesan Soluade, that a working relationship between the Southwest and the North is the lifeline of Nigeria.

TRUTH can never hurt. Only its antagonism destroys.

Mr. Wole Akingbasote should come off his fallacious idealism, that is self-destructive and anti-intellectual. He should remove the garb of putrid liberalism and get real. He should know that no authentic Yoruba son or daughter would stand-by and allow his/her ancestral land be invaded by interlopers.

You cannot call my Papa’s land a “no man’s land” and expect me to roll out the drums to celebrate you so that I would not be accused of “tribal hatred.” It is arrant nonsense. It is not going to happen. Ma f’oko mi da ona, ojo kan laa f’oun e. (Don’t use my farm as a footpath, is a declaration made in a day).

We will tell our children these stories. We will educate them. We will show them the facts. We will remain who we are. But we will pay more attention and behead any green snake before it does any damage.

Mr. Wole Akingbasote should be properly guided. And if you do not like what I write, it is up to you what you do. I would be at peace standing by my conviction.

Lies never last, history never dies, and the truth is always constant.

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