Groups promoting and defending the interest of Yoruba nation, on Thursday, came together in the spirit of unity to celebrate the 135th anniversary of the peace accord that ended the longest intra-ethnic war in Yoruba land christened the Kiriji war.
The gathering, which was facilitated by the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), under the aegis of Yoruba Assembly, met at the House of Chiefs, Oil State Hous of Assembly complex, Ibadan. They stressed the need to work together and speak with one voice for Yoruba land, without disparaging their different approaches.
The groups include Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Agbekoya, Ekun Oodua, Centre for Change, Omo Oodua, Majiyagbe, Ilana Omo Oodua and Yoruba Koya.
Kiriji war, aka Ekiti Parapo war, is one of the world’s longest intra-ethnic civil wars. It was fought among Yoruba people of South West Nigeria. The war was between the Yoruba in the Western part, including Ibadan and Ijebu, and those in the Eastern part, mainly Ekiti and Ijesa.
Setting the tone for the discussions, ARG chairman, Hon. Olawale Oshun, said Yoruba leaders came together exactly 135 years ago to cease warring and embrace peace and unity after fighting for 16 years .
He pointed out that the treaty paved way for the progress and development of Yoruba land as a whole, emphasising the importance of unity.
“There can’t be progress without peace and cooperation… That’s why we tagged this summit ‘Celebration of Unity.’ Let all groups begin to work together. Let all Yoruba politicians begin to work together, irrespective of their political affiliation so that they can work for the progress of Yoruba land. We must hold them accountable,” he said.
Oshun regretted that farmers in Yoruba land are currently afraid of going to farm because of attacks by criminal herders which has led to prices of food skyrocketing.
He noted that acquisition of formal education, skills in vocations mark out Yoruba, which he says makes them instruments of development wherever they live.
He called on stakeholders to begin to hold elected leaders accountable for the purpose of making the society a better place.
Speaking, the leader of Ilana Omo Oodua, Prof. Banji Akintoye, endorsed the move, stressing that the ARG is a strong and reliable force in promoting the interest of Yoruba.
Akintoye, who was represented by an activist, Dr Tunde Amzat, reminded the gathering that Article 1 of the 1886 peace treaty, stated that there shall be peace between obas, baales and their subjects. He reminded them of the warlords, their exploits and their laudable decision to end the war.
Akintoye emphasised the need to recognise differences in approach but said the goal was the same for all the groups. He urged members not to oppose one another because of differences in approach, saying that every Yoruba enjoys the freedom to adopt any legal approach to achieve their goals.
He said: “There is no difference between those who want restructuring and those who want self-determination. Only third parties are trying to divide us. We are all slaves in this contraption called Nigeria. But we must stand against this oppression. No single group can do it alone.”
He, however, warned against violence.
The Director General, Development Agenda for Western Nigerian (DAWN) Commission, Mr Seye Oyeleye, urged Yoruba youths to obtain their permanent voters card and shun thuggery in the 2023 election.
“Avoid being used as thugs in the 2023 election. Get your PVC and vote for those you know will work for the progress of Yoruba,” he said.
Also at the meeting were Dr Yemi Farohunbi, Mr Ayo Afolabi and several group leaders.