Sikiru Ajayi and Biodun Adeniran write on crisis in the Yoruba World Congress and the way forward.
The Yoruba World Congress (YWC) is in trouble and the body might soon die or break. The body formed just over a year ago to start a new dawn in the Yoruba Nation seems to be reaching its end thanks to infighting caused by allegations of various kinds among its leadership.
In the past one year, YWC has gained the attention and respect of many Yoruba people at home and abroad because of its innovative ways of doing things.
In just one year, YWC that led the successful Amotekun rally has hosted what was billed the biggest Town Hall meeting ever held, the event saw the largest ever gathering of Yoruba groups and leaders featuring over 1,800 delegates from 27 countries in five continents.
It has set up an International Secretariat in Lagos, a National Secretariat in Ibadan, the political capital of Yoruba Nation.
The body has also established chapters in virtually all Local Governments and Towns in all Yoruba States and some parts of Kwara, Kogi, Edo and Delta States. The body announced plans for the biggest Yoruba Library worldwide and just last week, on Saturday, it announced a mentoring programme for 300 young Yoruba Graduates selected from 10 states to be linked with 50 accomplished Yoruba professionals from various sectors of the economy and countries around the world.
All these accomplishments now seem to be at risk.
Trouble started on Tuesday 25th August when a press statement signed by Banji Akintoye, professor emeritus of history, and some other names communicated that members of the YWC Leaders Council had been removed.
Names of those announced as removed were Amos Akingba, Tola Adeniyi, Anthony Kila, and Solagbade Popoola. The statement, sent to various news outlet, went viral within minutes due to the astonishing content.
Those listed as removed are the known Leaders of YWC.
Akingba, the 82-year old NADECO veteran, is perceived to be the deputy Leader of YWC. Adeniyi, veteran journalist and an accomplished public servant, was the one that presented YWC to the world. Adeniyi pushed the young YWC using the media and his extensive National and international contacts with high net-worth personalities.
Popoola is Head of the Generational Diaspora Yoruba. Kila, a senior professor, is the Secretary General and the one regarded as the brain box of YWC.
What is going on? Why now? Why such extreme measure against respected YWC Leaders? Who are the people that took the decision, were some of the questions on social media platforms and Yoruba groups.
These questions remain unanswered.
The media release signed by Akintoye did not give reasons for such extreme measure beyond saying that the four leaders refused to participate in a meeting with other members.
The purportedly removed members have refused to speak to the press when contacted.
Adeniyi dismissed the story saying “it cannot be true and that it will be corrected”. Kila simply laughed at the story saying that “YWC is a serious organisation and he does not comment on ridiculous stories”.
On his part, Akingba said he got to read about the news on social media platform and he described the story as unfair and embarrassing.
According to Akingba, the only thing that happened on Tuesday was that a meeting of seven people was called but close to twenty people arrived and obviously it was for another meeting.
Investigation has, however, revealed that the close to twenty people said to have attended the meeting are members of groups that elected Akintoye in Ibadan last year in August.
These people, according to our source, have never been comfortable with the YWC. After they elected a Yoruba Leader, they have often felt sidelined in the YWC of Professors and elites. Investigations show that Akintoye, however, seems more comfortable with his Ibadan electors than with the YWC group. A source very close to Akintoye told our reporters that “those that attended the meeting were mobilised to protect Akintoye from the YWC people”
The relationship between the role of the Yoruba Leader elected in Ibadan and that of the YWC Leader is a knot that needs to be untied and clarified.
The Ibadan electors do not seem to have a space in the YWC and most of the groups that came together to elect Akintoye as Yoruba Leader do not seem to exist anymore.
A lot of Yoruba Leaders and traditional rulers are said to have intervened, calling on Akintoye to sit with the four YWC leaders to discuss issues. That has not happened since Tuesday, although Akintoye has had two separate meetings with other people without the four members of the YWC Leaders Council.
Right now, tempers are high and most members are saying there has been no clear and direct communication.
“Nobody has said exactly what is wrong or what happened” said a YWC female leader we spoke to.
A YWC member currently in the United States (U.S.) told our reporters on the phone that “Akintoye needs to take a clear and unequivocal stand”.
The former prominent leader of the YWC said he is not surprised at what is unfolding.
Our findings show that with the events of the last one week, YWC has been split into two, the pure YWC faction led by the founders of the global YWC which include the four members of the Leaders Council and hundreds of Diaspora YWC with chapters in the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Australia; and the other led by members of the Ibadan groups that elected Akintoye as Yoruba Leader.
Another dimension to the YWC crises is the 2023 permutations. An Ekiti based member told our correspondent that Akintoye and his new associates are said to have a presidential candidate in mind while those in the YWC Leaders Council are said to be vehemently opposed to partisan politics.
For them, YWC has one and only one Agenda: Emancipation and Self-determination of Yoruba nation through peaceful and negotiated means and to defend the homeland if attacked. Akintoye and his new associates, therefore, need a structure that will not scuttle the plan of their candidate for President according to the source.
The coming days will see major clarification that will see the YWC either break or die.