You may have heard about the declaration of the Yoruba Nation to separate from Nigeria and become an independent nation. This came after the Biafran agitation in the South East, also pushing for the same purpose. The Yoruba Nation has clarified its plans to start an independent nation that lives by its laws and governs itself.
Yoruba Self-Determined Movement
In August 2022, the Nigerian media reported that a group, the Yoruba Self-Determined Movement (YSDM), wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari seeking a “peaceful break away” of Yorubas from Nigeria. Chairperson of the group, Banji Akintoye, said in the letter that an overwhelming number of Yorubas want to be separated from the country because of their “worsening and painful plight.”
According to a report by Premium Times, Mr. Akintoye, also a professor of History, said that in the 1950s, Yoruba leaders requested the input of a secession clause in the Nigerian Constitution but was overruled by the colonial master at the time.
The letter read, “Mr. President, the Yoruba Self-Determination Movement now serves you notice of the decision of the Yoruba people to assert their right to self-determination, which right of self-determination is an inalienable and unquestionable right of every indigenous nation in the world,”
“Upon asserting this right of self-determination, we Yoruba nation shall be free to determine our political status, pursue our economic, social, and cultural development according to policies chosen independently by us, and to live under the government independently chosen and ordered by us.”
Call For An Independent Nation By Sunday Adeyemo
The call for an independent nation was championed by Yoruba activist Sunday Adeyemo (popularly known as Sunday Igboho). The call gathered momentum following the killing of indigenous Yorubas in the South-West region by herdsmen. The activist was arrested and detained in the Benin Republic on his way to Germany. He was released on bail in March of that year. The agitation quietened down following his arrest. Mr. Akintoye is credited with having been instrumental in his release at the time.
In the published letter, Mr. Akintoye stated that “over five million members of Yoruba adult population have, within a short time, signed the petition to affirm without equivocation their support for creating an independent Yoruba Nation-state.” He stated that the letter’s purpose was to “formally” give the president “notice of the decision of the overwhelming majority of our Yoruba nation and people to exercise our right to self-determination to have our independent and sovereign country separate from the country of Nigeria.”
He also stressed the group’s commitment to this quest of what he called the “formation of our own independent Yoruba country separate from Nigeria.” In closing, he claimed that “Present-day Nigeria amounts essentially to something like forcing the nations of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Belgium together as a country and expecting such a country to function optimally.”
The Movement & Fallout
In November 2022, while responding to claims that an independent Yoruba Nation had been declared, the official Yoruba Self-Determination Movement called them “false, not only misleading but having the dangerous potential to destabilize the true and legal route of self-determination.”
In January 2023, Daily Trust reported that the efforts to create a separate nation in the South West were facing “a hiccup” because leaders of the Yoruba nation agitation were facing allegations of fraud, funds mismanagement, lack of transparency, and corruption within the leadership.
In the same month, three weeks after taking leader from Banji Akintoye, the newly appointed chairman of Ilana Omo Oodua, Prof. Wale Adeniran, announced he was stepping aside due to allegations of funds mismanagement against him. The movement has since been in limbo.
On February 5, the Lagos State Police announced that they had arrest some suspected Yoruba Nation agitators who had gathered to set camp for a massive protest in the area. The police also stated also stated plans to continue investigations.