Yoruba Historian and chairman of the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS), Professor Banji Akintoye, has said anyone who says Nigeria is better together wants Yoruba people to perish.
In an interview with Guardian, Akintoye said people who want to benefit from Nigeria at all costs to the detriment of their people, are those against self-determination but are instead pushing for restructuring.
“We are insisting on self-determination because it is the only solution now that is meaningful. Any other solution is not meaningful. We are facing an existential situation and the answer is not just to protect ourselves now but also to take the measure that will lead to perpetual protection. The only way to achieve that is to have a separate country of our own,” he said.
“There will always be some Yoruba leaders that believe in restructuring instead of secession: One, people who do not understand fully the enormity of the danger facing the Yoruba nation.
“Two, people who understand but are wondering what will happen to them to replace the benefits they are enjoying. People who have high ambitions and they have contributed high to Nigeria and they want to benefit from it at all cost. Even if their people perish, such people will oppose it.
“They are opposing, but we don’t blame them. They are human beings. What is important is that those of us who believe in our objectives will be strong in the struggle. Anybody who says Nigeria is better together is saying that some people must perish.”
Commenting on the statement by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, that there would be a need to obtain a visa to Kano if Nigeria splits, Akintoye said: “If we want to go to the Benin Republic, won’t we take a visa? There is no problem. Anywhere outside Yo rubaland, we will take a visa. That is natural.”
The professor also faulted the insinuations that if Yoruba nation gets independence, sub-units in the region might also demand independence and what happened in Sudan, might repeat also happen.
“Sudan has the problem we don’t have. Sudan is made up of small ethnic groups. They were fighting as different ethnic groups. When independence came, despite the assurance that they were going to hold together, the leaders could not do it. Therefore, they were fighting among themselves. And they have been killing one another since then.
“That cannot happen in Yorubaland. We are one people, one culture and one language. That is a deliberate distortion. Ethnic factors have never played a part in our history.
“We can get out of this Nigeria without violence. We don’t have to insult any people. We don’t have to insult other ethnic groups.
“We don’t have to be hostile towards other people. We don’t have to disobey the government or disrespect the laws of Nigeria. We can achieve our purposes by being ourselves. We are civilised people. That is my message to the Yoruba people. We are sophisticated people.”
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