Two Yoruba pressure groups, the Odua Descendants Union, ODU, and the Odua Solidarity Forum, OSF, jumped into the raging debate on the national question Wednesday evening in Lagos, warning against what they claim is the ‘incessant attacks against the Yoruba race’.
The groups, in two separate statements on Wednesday in Lagos, said they were reacting to the controversy generated by recent articles written by former Aviation Minister Femi Fani-Kayode, and for which people and groups of Igbo extraction have frowned.
The ODU, in a statement by its coordinator, Adeyemi Aboderin, said it was drawing the attention of ” all Nigerians to the calculated campaign of calumny and threat against the Yoruba people by some Igbo groups”.
It said the campaigns became ‘loud since the publication of an article by former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode”, adding that these attacks have continued unabated despite his explanations that his comments have been greatly misunderstood, and that his intentions were not to ridicule or malign the Igbo.
The group also said “some Igbo groups have not stopped at attacking him alone, but have gone ahead to issue threats against his wife and children”.
The Odua Descendant Union said it had taken time to study the attacks and others like it in the recent pasts, and have concluded that the attacks on Fani-Kayode were mere smoke screen, saying, “the main target of these attack dogs is definitely the Yoruba race”.
On its part, the OSF said the former minister “only responded to a national issue and comments made by some Igbos concerning the Yoruba race”.
They added that “It is funny how these people who have found it a game to attack Chief Fani-Kayode remained silent when an Igbo man and leader,former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, found it convenient to describe Lagos as ‘no man’s land’ and that 55% of the revenue generated in the state belong to the Igbos”.
They said Mr. Fani-Fayode’s comments were his personal opinion as a Nigerian, adding, “what was he expected to do when his father’s land is being disparaged by an Igbo man?
“It is not only funny, but ridiculous that Orji Kalu would refer to Lagos as a no man’s land,” the group said. “Perhaps he has forgotten so soon that shortly after the June 12 crisis broke out, and Lagos was on fire as a result of the activities of the military junta, his Igbo brothers packed their loads and headed back to their ‘homes’.”
OSF said It took the Yoruba, who are the ‘owners’ of Lagos to stand and fight to protect their land.
“It is also instructive to remind them that the Yoruba account for between 20% and 30% of buildings and businesses in Abuja. But we had never for one day lose sight of the fact that Abuja belongs to the Gwari people, though it is the Federal Capital of Nigeria.
“The reason is very simple, the Yoruba is not in any way covetous, and so will never lay claim to whatever is not his”.
OSF said the average Yoruba is very accommodating. “It is for this simple reason that you will find an Igbo, Hausa or even a non-Nigerian with properties spread across Yoruba land without any problem.
OSF said It was against this background that it viewed the comments credited to the Ohaneze Ndigbo in the Daily Sun publication of Tuesday August 6, 2013,”as not only insulting to the Yoruba, but also an affront”.
The Ohaneze were quoted in the Sun report as saying “The Igbo are key stakeholders in the affairs of the state (Lagos). We constitute over 46% of the population of the state…It is the Igbo that make Lagos what it is and without them Lagos will go to sleep. The Igbo in Lagos have the capacity to defend themselves…”
OSF said, “This reckless statement is a subtle claim by the Igbo that they own Lagos, with a veiled threat to destroy it if they don’t have their way.
The Yoruba group however said “despite the open threat, no Yoruba man has picked the gun to attack the Ohaneze. Perhaps we should ask our brothers one simple question. How many Yoruba have C-of-Os in Enugu, Aba or Onitsha?”
The group said the Yoruba do not own property in the east “not because they don’t want to have it or because they are not as industrious as their Igbo counterpart. The truth is that the system there will never allow them to own such things because they are viewed as ‘strangers’.
“Therefore, we would like to use this opportunity to warn them not to abuse our large hearts and accommodating spirit,” they warned.