Worried by lack of unity among the Yorubas, a pressure group, Egbe Omo Yoruba in the North America, has concluded arrangement to hold The World Yoruba Summit in Ibadan this October to sensitize the Yoruba nation on the need to have a united force. The group has also identified the need for economic empowerment of the youths as the leaders of tomorrow and a vital component of the repositioning plan. The summit is slated for University of Ibadan between October 17 and 22 with “Yoruba Renaissance: Understanding our past for a better future,” as the theme of the event.
President of the organisation, Agbaakin Bolu Omodele, who spoke at a press briefing in Lagos said the association, which was founded as a result of the unexpected annulment of the June 12 election in 1993, decided to organise the summit to promote Yoruba unity and empower the youths. Agbaakin Omodele expressed his concern over the lackadaisical attitude of Yoruba leaders toward issues of general interest and their unbridled concern for financial gain.
He however pointed out that there are some Yoruba leaders, who are equally concerned about lack of unity among the Yorubas and have strived very well to arrest the situation. The president pointed out that Egbe Omo Yoruba is convinced that a big platform like the proposed Ibadan summit will help leaders of thoughts in Yoruba land to reason together and identify challenges facing the people and how to chart a new path for the development of the nation.
“23 years after we established the association with record of involvements in some national discourse, we have decided to move in at this critical period of our country to address issues related to unity. We have not have any meeting in Nigeria since then, that is why we are convening a world summit of all Yorubas in October in Ibadan. I stand to be corrected but the truth is that we have discovered over time that the Yorubas are not as united as our counterpart from the Northern part of the country.
“It appears that our leaders are more concerned about personal gain in the power game. We members of Egbe Omo Yoruba in North America now think there is urgent need for us to bring our people together to talk about our unity, our culture and those inherent values deposited in us by almighty God that will help us speak with one voice. We believe the best thing to do is to allow our collective interest to override our individual interest,” he said.
Earlier, a former president of the association, Agbaakin Adeola Odusanya, had appreciated the new Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who he said has since assumed office, been campaigning for unity. He also appreciated former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who during a visit to the US advised members of the association to come to the country and galvanise their people on the need to have a united force.
According to him, the Ife monarch is fully aware that the Yorubas cannot get anywhere without a united voice. He pointed out that with such a royal father as a chief campaigner, members of Egbe Omo Yoruba believe that they could add their voice at this critical period in the nation socio-political life to bring Yoruba together and address salient issues that would help reposition the Yoruba nation.
To make the impact of the summit to cut across, Agbaakin Adeola stated that the group had reached out to the Yorubas in Cuba, Brazil, Republic of Benin and other places to join hands with them and assemble for the summit. He also added that the leadership of the association has been moving round to meet traditional rulers, leaders of thought and top government functionaries in the South West to impress them on the importance of buying into the summit.
“Before now, we have been having our annual convention in the US and we have been working closely with other organizations like the Igbo Union and the Sumunta, which is the umbrella body of the northerners in the US. When I was the President, there was a time we came to Nigeria with Sumunta’s President, Dr. Ladan and the president of Igbo Union in the US, and we traveled to Abuja to talk about the 3rd term issue being conceived by some friends of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo and gave reasons why it shouldn’t be allowed to stand. Of course we all know the result, it died on arrival,”
Speaking on measures being put in place to make sure the summit is not hijacked by any politician or political party for selfish interest, the Publicity Secretary of the association, Mrs. Sola Yusuf-Aiwinnilomo, said the funding of the summit is restricted to members’ donation and support from individuals, who share their dream. She also traced the origin of the association to 23 years ago when Yorubas in the United States of America came together following the unjustly annulment of the June 12 Presidential election, which was believed to have been overwhelmingly won by late Moshood Abiola, a Yoruba leader.
She said: “Egbe Omo Yoruba was established 23 years ago following what happened after the June 12 general elections. That was when it occurred to us that Yorubas in America should come together as one. Prior to then, there were Yoruba Organisations in North America but as a result of June 12, the national body called Egbe Omo Yoruba, North America – EOYNA, which is the National Association of Yoruba Descendants in North America, was established. The organization is the umbrella organization of all Yoruba Organizations in USA and Canada. Our mission is to promote the unity, progress, and empowerment of The Yoruba people in USA and Canada for peaceful co-existence based on justice for all.
On the empowerment programme, the Publicity Secretary said the summit will create a forum for workshop on empowerment, where youths will be given orientation on how they can put their one naira into work to get two naira.
“We want to use the workshop to galvanize the youths to be agents of change. We want our people to support federal government move on job creation and economic diversification. The truth is that we have many of our people out there who have no clue about how to create wealth. This is one area where the Igbos are better and that is why we want to nurture entrepreneurs among our people.
“We are sad that we have many graduates out there doing nothing. For instance, we are in Ibadan recently at a local cafeteria and we saw a young man next door making shoes without any modern technology. We reasoned instantly and imagined what such a guy could contribute to the economy if given the needed encouragement,”
She also disclosed that the World Yoruba Summit has received the royal blessings of Ooni of Ife and other traditional rulers in Yoruba land, including the monarch of Ile-Oluji, in Ondo State, who she said had given the organizations some hectares of land for Agricultural purposes.