The people of the South West have insisted that they are going ahead with a summit planned to take place in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on September 7, 2019, to discuss the basis of the Nigerian nation.
The planning secretary of the Yoruba Summit, Mr Yinka Odumakin, made this known recently in a telephone chat with the Tribune Online, on Friday, saying the proposed summit is a legitimate and peaceful means to discuss the state of affairs of the country.
This was against the backdrop of the recent declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari that the Nigerian unity was settled and not negotiable.
The president had in his last national broadcast, said, “We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddled others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary, with their blood.”
While acknowledging that every group has grievances and legitimate concerns, he however ruled out the possibility of any further discussion on the vexed issue of restructuring as he said “the national consensus is that it is better to live together than to live apart.”
The president was categorical in his assertion as he declared that “The National Assembly and the National Council of States are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse” and directed the security agencies to take charge.
However, Odumakin said, while the president’s stand was very important to the national discourse, he should allow other people to express their own views and opinions as Nigeria is a democracy.
He also said the summit would be presided over by the renowned legal luminary, Chief Age Babalola SAN and would have in attendance the South West governors, traditional rulers and prominent leaders of thoughts, among others, in the zone.
“What we are planning to do at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan on September 7, 2019 is not a rally. Rather, we are holding a summit to discuss the place of the Yoruba people in the national agenda.
“It is a solemn summit of the Yoruba people; a gathering of Yoruba people from within and outside the country to deliberate on the state of the nation and to articulate an agenda for our people. It is also aimed at the realisation of the common aspirations of our people,” he said.
Odumakin also dismissed insinuations that the summit may be seen as confrontational against the stand of President Buhari, noting that it was a peaceful and legitimate gathering of a constituent part of the country.
“There is nothing confrontational about the summit. The president didn’t speak against our programme in his broadcast on Monday. He even acknowledged that every group has grievances and legitimate concerns.
“If he speaks, it is his opinion and he is entitled to it. His opinion is very important in the issues at stake because he has the mandate of the people. But other people have their own opinions too and he should bow to and accept superior arguments and opinions.
“A healthy and progressive nation is all about discussions, a daily and continuous deliberation on issues affecting all its constituent parts.
“Don’t forget that, even the late Sani Abacha repressive regime couldn’t stop the 1995 National Conference. Now, we are in a democratic country where the opinion of the people must be respected.
“Yoruba people are coming from all over the country and outside the shores of Nigeria. We are not going to the summit to foment trouble. All over the world, the Yoruba are not known to be hooligans or thugs.
“We are a peace-loving and law-abiding people and we are gathering in Ibadan to discuss our common interests. It is a solemn gathering to discuss issues affecting us in the nation called Nigeria,” he added.
Odumakin also said the summit was not sponsored by any single individual or politicians, disclosing that “the financiers are the ordinary Yoruba people who are contributing their N10,000, N20,000, N50,000, according to their abilities, to a worthy cause.”