South-West Group Begins Campaign for Forum of Yoruba Obas

The Alliance for Yoruba Democratic Movements, (AYDM) has begun the campaign for Obas in the South-West to have a regional body.

The group after its extended meeting in Lagos on Monday said it had set up a committee that would visit Yoruba traditional rulers in the six South-West states and Delta, Kogi and Kwara states towards establishing O’odua Council of Traditional Rulers.

The committee is also visit Togo, Benin Republic and Ghana where people of Yoruba descent abound in large numbers.

Over 100 representatives from across the South-West, Itsekiri, Edo, Kwara, and Kogi attended the 2-day event to which epresentatives also came from across West African countries.

An Ekiti first class Oba, Onikun of Ikun-Ekiti, His Royal Majesty Oba Olusola Olatunde, is one of those promoting the initiative.

The AYDM said traditional rulers were by age-long convention, expected to defend the indigenous values of their people and protect their ancestral land physically and spiritually.

The group said there were small and big conflicts across Yoruba territories that could be easily resolved by the traditional rulers instead of waiting government intervention.

A prominent multi-award winning journalist and expert on peace building and conflict prevention, Adewale Adeoye, was asked to preside over the 2-day historic meeting.

“As we speak, there is no forum that brings all Yoruba traditional rulers together to the extent that when three Yoruba traditional rulers were killed, the Obas did not speak with one voice. This is not good. There are growing challenges that demand collective response. We are determined to have a platform for all traditional rulers who are descendants of Oduduwa. At this critical moment, Yoruba Obas need to speak with one voice on common interests’, the AYDM General Secretary, Popoola Ajayi, said in a statement on Monday.

AYDM is an alliance of 130 pan-Yoruba socio-cultural groups spread across the old Western Region.

The group said it was impressed by the response of traditional rulers that have been contacted on the issue, while praising Oba Olatunde for his forthrightness and determination to ensure the platform of all descendants of Oduduwa traditional rulers emerged.

The AYDM said it was not unaware of the differences between the Obas, but noted that it was optimistic that the AYDM would be able to bring the traditional rulers together on the basis of the lowest common factor (LCM) of Yoruba interests.

Ajayi said the forum would address boundary issues, dispute within and among Yoruba communities, preservation of ancestral land resources, artefacts, history, language and culture.

“The forum will also address emerging threats, opportunities, strength and weaknesses in Yorubaland with demonstrated commitment to the preservation of historic monuments and even the environment”, AYDM said.

Ajayi explained that the committee would meet with all kings in Oduduwaland, irrespective of their status, including but not limited to the Olu of Warri, the Oba of Bini and traditional rulers in indigenous territories of Togo, Ghana and Benin Republic.

He added that the absence of a common platform has led to conscious distortion of Yoruba history by ignorant social media dregs, saying that a collective voice of the Obas would stamp out false narratives about history and civilisation of the people.

“We are working towards constructive engagements with all the Obas who descended from Oduduwa. It will be an amazing experience to see them come together to speak with one voice for the peace and prosperity of their people”, Ajayi said, adding that the forum would strengthen and consolidate unity among the people.

He said the AYDM was working on a structure that would be acceptable to the traditional rulers, bearing in mind the often bloated differences of ego between them.

“We used to have a forum for traditional rulers in the old Western Region. We can do it again. At this time, the need is even more imperative’, Ajayi said.

He said the AYDM looked forward to a situation where each of the states constituting old Western Region would host a local secretariat while the main secretariat would be located at Ibadan.

Ajayi said the forum would have to agree democratically on how the structure and modalities of the forum would work, adding that lack of a common forum had continued to fuel division and lack of effective communication among people of common descent to the detriment of Yoruba race all over the world.