Several Pan-Yoruba groups have again met in Lagos with a vow to ensure that the people of South-West determine the future of elections in the region.
The groups, which have now adopted the name ‘Alliance of Yoruba Democratic Movements’, said ethnic conflict, violence and the national question were critical issues that must be resolved if elections have to be meaningful and impactful in Nigeria.
It said it will soon launch an opinion poll across the South-West including Kwara and Kogi states to feel the pulse of the people on presidential aspirants in the context of the future of democracy and elections in the region.
The coalition condemned attacks on Yoruba territories by armed groups, the latest being the violence visited on Molege and Arimogija in Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State by armed herdsmen.
It had earlier met in Lagos last week when it resolved that any election in Yoruba territory should be about the resolution of the national question and nothing more.
According to coalition, any presidential aspirant from the South-West will receive the support of the people if the focal point of the election was to resolve the lingering national question without which credible future elections and sustainable developments were impossible.
In a statement after its meeting in Lagos by the General-Secretary, Mr Popoola Ajayi, the coalition said many Yoruba people were tired of elections that have failed to address the fears and aspirations of the people.
The statement reads, “Election has become a private political affair and no longer about the people. Voting is now more about members of political parties and not about the people. Democracy is gradually becoming government of the political parties, by the political parties and for members of the political parties. This must change. The people must seize their destiny with both hands.”
The group further said that it was aware of various tendencies in the old Western Region including those, who wanted a break-up of the country and those wanting the election not to hold at all.
The alliance said the demand for a break up of Nigeria by some ethnic groups was based on long standing injustice, corruption and anti-people constitution and the rise in terrorism that appears to be supported by some people in power.
The coalition said if elections must hold in Yoruba territories, the people should be the deciding factor, not money or sharing of material inducements which destroys the moral fabric of the nation.
It added, “We are preparing to mobilise Yoruba people, the poor, the middle class, the haves and have-nots, artisans, market men and women, deprived and the privileged so that real democratic power will be in the hands of the people.
“Democracy is government of the people by the people and for the people. It means the majority must have their say and they must have their way not a tiny cabal.”
The coalition said it had set up committees to meet with groups and associations in the five geo-political zones to work out a trans-regional alliance.
Among those, who attended the meeting were representatives of Nigerian Automobile Technicians Association represented by the National General Secretary, with some seven million members in the South-West alone, ANNACOWA (the association of Okada Riders in the South-West) represented by the Chairman, Mr Ade Ikuesan who is also the Secretary General, Okada Riders Association of Nigeria, Oodua Nationalist Coalition, Agbekoya represented by Chief Kunle Oshodi, Apapo Oodua Koya, Oodua Peoples Congress,(New Era) led by Alhaji Rasaq Arogundade, South-West Farmers Coopeative, South-West Women Congress, Coalition of Oodua Student Associations.
Others are Covenant Group, Network for Yoruba Alliance, Oodua International Democratic Movement, Ikale Peoples Coalition, Edo Peoples Alliance, Network of Itsekiri Unions, Oodua Hunters Union, Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC Reformed) led by Alhaji Taofik Adeyemi, Liberty Movement, South-West Progressive Peoples Movement, South-West Professionals, representatives of Yoruba communities in the North and some West African countries among many others.