The newly elected Yoruba leader, Professor Banji Akintoye on Tuesday urged Yorubas across the country to stand up for their rights and uphold what rightly belongs to them, noting that the country is declining due to the way its been governed over the years.
He maintained that his mission as a leader of the race is to ensure that the Yoruba takes back its place of pride in the comity of tribes in what he described as ‘declining nation’.
He made the assertions while leading the delegation of other noble Yoruba groups to Popoyemoja, Ibadan palace of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji to seek the royal blessings of the monarch on the new task entrust in him by Yorubas.
Among Akintoye’s entourage were Agbaakin Olubadan of Ibadan, Chief Lekan Alabi, Akogun Odu’a, Chief Tola Adeniyi and Leader of Yoruba Koya, Chief Deji Osibogun, Mr Kunle Adesokan, Mrs Ronke Akinlolu, Chief Mrs Anike Obot among others.
Akintoye who said he had turned down attempts to woos him to take the position by some concerned youths recounted that he could not help the situation later when the youths challenged him to put into practices all the plans and views he had written about over the years in the interest of the region.
He said, although he was a founding member of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and had even written the party manifesto back in the years, Prof Akintoye reiterated that he was long done with politics and would never be swayed to renege on his words.
Rather, he said his vision is to relate and work with all Yorubas across party and political divides in order to restore the region to its enviable height in the interest of the youths and the future of the race.
According to him, “My agenda for the Yoruba race is simple, we are a strong nation and we have accumulated a great deal of strength in human power and in a whole lot of other things. It is not right that we should be declining with Nigeria.
“Nigeria is declining because of the way Nigeria is structured and because of the way Nigeria is governed. Even if we cannot change that, we can change our own destiny in Nigeria, that’s my agenda.
“I want to cry to the Yoruba people, firstly, do not be scared by the people who says they are coming to conquer, kill and destroy among you. Stand up, you are great people, stand up and defend your land. There is nothing more than that.
“Continue to honour our tradition of hospitality and inclusion of foreigners among us, continue to do that. But if any foreigner comes and want to come and distrupt our land, or to come and kill, maim and destroy among us, tell them they cannot succeed. That is the first thing.
“The second thing is that, there are many things we can change if we would pay attention to them. I want to call on the Yoruba people now and point out the things that we can do, so that we can change and change our destiny. A nation like Yoruba should not be producing millions of children from universities and other high institutions of learning who have no jobs, who have no prospects, who have no hope, we can change that and we must change that, there is hope.
“There are examples of countries where it had been done, we can do it too in Yoruba land in very many ways. Yoruba nation, you’re a great nation, defend your land. Yoruba nation you are a great nation, you are a pacesetter at an important time in the history of Nigeria, Africa, return to your position as pacesetter.
“I want to be able to enter every Yoruba man’s house, enter every office of a Yoruba governor. We’re not politicians, no partisanship whatever. We’re ready to change our lives and have a new order.
“Kabiyesi, I want to tell you that I am concerned about Yoruba, I still love Nigeria but I am of the opinion that we can change our Yoruba nation in Nigeria within the armpit of law. There are examples of countries where it had been done, we can do it too in Yoruba land in very many ways.”
Responding, Oba Adetunji who was flanked by his Olori, Rashidat Adetunji thanked the new leader for his resolve and acceptance to work for the progress of the Yoruba race.
The first class monarch assured Akintoye that his doors are open to him for consultation at any point on short notice, saying “I am ready to adjust my itinerary to accommodate your visit and consultation at any given time.”
The Olubadan then offered his royal blessings and prayer for the success of Akintoye’s mission.
Recall that Akintoye, a member of the senate (between 1979-1983) on the platform of the UPN was elected by the Assembly of All Yoruba Groups Worldwide on August 22 in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.