Akintoye, Igboho Wrote Tinubu, Seek Yoruba Nation Exit from Nigeria

Leaders of the Yoruba Self-Determination Movement, Professor Banji Akintoye and Chief Sunday Adeyemo, widely known as Sunday Igboho, have formally addressed an open letter to Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, advocating for the peaceful separation of the Yoruba ethnic group from Nigeria. The letter, which underscores a significant movement within Nigeria’s geopolitical landscape, was also signed by Ola Ademola, marking a united front within the senior ranks of the movement.

Dated April 17, 2024, the correspondence urges President Tinubu to initiate within two months a negotiation process aimed at facilitating the orderly and non-violent exit of the Yoruba territories from the Nigerian federation. This call for secession follows a recent surge in tensions, exemplified by an incident last week where armed supporters of the movement stormed the Oyo State Government House in a failed attempt to raise the Yoruba flag.

The incident at the state assembly resulted in the arrest of 29 agitators who were subsequently charged and remanded in custody by a magistrate’s court in Ibadan. Both Akintoye and Igboho have publicly disavowed the violent tactics employed during the event, emphasizing their commitment to achieving their aims through peaceful means.

The letter to President Tinubu represents a pivotal moment in the long-standing grievances expressed by some factions within the Yoruba community, who argue that their economic, social, and cultural aspirations have been consistently marginalized within the current federal structure. By proposing formal negotiations, the Yoruba Self-Determination Movement is seeking to carve out a new path that respects the rights and identities of its people without recourse to violence.

The Nigerian presidency has yet to respond to the letter. However, the move has sparked widespread debate across the country’s political and social spectrums about the feasibility, implications, and consequences of such a secession at a time when Nigeria faces various internal challenges. The coming weeks are expected to be critical as both the national government and Yoruba leaders navigate this complex and evolving situation.

However, in their open letter made available to our correspondent in Ibadan on Sunday, the Yoruba Self-Determination Movement, said, “We have the honour to send to Your Excellency this important letter on behalf of the many millions of Yoruba people at home in Yorubaland in Nigeria and in the Yoruba Diaspora in almost all countries across the world.

“We send this letter as a follow-up to our earlier letter, dated August 06, 2022, which we delivered to your predecessor, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his exalted position then as President of Nigeria.

“Since 2015, the Fulani have been killing widely among the other peoples of Nigeria, including us Yoruba, destroying farms, villages and other assets, kidnapping men, women and children, extorting large amounts of money as ransom from friends and family of the kidnapped, and repeatedly asserting their intention to seize the homelands of all the indigenous peoples of Nigeria for the purpose of turning all into a Fulani homeland.”

The group said in the Middle Belt, horrendous blood-letting was going on with many families forced into Internally Displaced People Camps while many of their villages were seized by the Fulani and renamed as Fulani villages.

“In our Yoruba homeland, our people are resisting somewhat better, but the Fulani attacks and killings and kidnappings are unrelenting and are coming daily, leading to horrific instability, and forcing most of our farmers to abandon farming altogether, thereby dooming Yoruba people to years and years of famine.”

It further alleged that an unofficial estimate showed that Fulani had killed as many as 29,000 Yoruba people since 2015 till date, adding that aforementioned reasons were enough for them to seek breakaway from Nigeria.

“All these actions by the Fulani are, to us Yoruba, a sufficient reason for our seeking to separate our Yoruba Nation from Nigeria. Most of us, Yoruba have no confidence in the ‘restructuring’ that some of our most respected Yoruba leaders (such as our fathers in our highly exalted Afenifere) are advocating.

“And our reason is that we know that restructuring cannot keep the Fulani marauders away from our homeland. Since, after restructuring, the Fulani would still be Nigerians like us, and would still have full citizens’ rights to come in large numbers, and with weapons and intent to kill and destroy and seize land, to our homeland.

“The Fulani elite seem to be saying in effect that they intend to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Tinubu, and that they would never accept any official action of his.

“We are acting for and on behalf of our 60 million Yoruba people of the Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo State, respectively, plus the Yoruba Local Government Areas of Kogi and Kwara State, and plus the Itshekiri homeland of Delta State, all together constituting the Yorubaland in Nigeria, hereby most humbly place our crowning request before Your Excellency as follows:

“That the Nigerian Federal Government shall, within the next two months, but not later than June 15, 2024, inform us Yoruba Self-determination Movement that the Nigerian Federal Government has graciously agreed to our proposal for negotiation and that they have set up a negotiation team that will meet and have a dialogue with our Yoruba Nation’s negotiation team.

“That the Nigerian Federal Government shall invite the United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, to send observers to the negotiation meetings.”

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