Yoruba Leader, Prof Banji Akintoye, has called for a sober reflection on Nigeria. The Emeritus Professor of history made this call during a reception held to honour his 85th birthday at the Secretariat of the Yoruba World Congress in Lagos.
Though ebullient and pleased to see leaders of various Yoruba groups affiliated with his Yoruba World Congress, Prof Akintoye was quick to clarify that he had no intention to celebrate or have a party for his 85th birthday.
Amidst laughter and applauses, he declared: “I was at home receiving some family members and friends when our Secretary General, Prof Anthony Kila summoned me to a meeting at the Secretariat and I came to meet all this. Well, all I can say is thank you very much.
When asked why he did not want to hold a party? Prof Akintoye was emphatic and the historian gave a historic answer:
“There is an ongoing tradition that started close to three decades ago in which I celebrate my birthday only every Ten years and the Yoruba Communities in the United States have a sort of exclusive rights over that celebration; the next one will be in five years’ time if God spares me, so no big celebration today.”
He also added that though there are more than enough reasons to thank God for a being hale and healthy after seeing over eighty-five years in this world, he also not in a very festive mood because of the conditions of the country.
The celebrated Historian is worried and unhappy about the Nigeria of today: “When I think of what we had in mind for this country, our lofty ideas and the great steps we took at least in the western region under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and we compare the country to where we are today, then you will see why I am not happy.
“I look at the state of security or rather insecurity, I consider prospect of our youths, I look at our education and health facilities and other infrastructure, I see too many of our people in abject poverty and I want us to have a sober reflection on what is going on the country.
“People are sad and unsafe; the future is not looking bright for too many of young our people.
“I think we should rethink this Nigeria! The way it is so far does not seem to be fit for purpose. We need to change things. We must have sober reflection devoid of partisan affiliation and retrace our steps to where we were before now, we need to ask ourselves who is this country working for? We need to review how we want to live together as a people in order to come up with a clear, fair and effective country.” He added.
Asked if the country is working for his own Yoruba People? Prof Akintoye is quick to disagree:
“It is certainly not working for Yoruba people; this Nigeria does not reflect the omoluawbi principles that make up an important part of the Yoruba essence. “Besides, I do not see big improvements in Yorubaland in this country and Yoruba people are not doing well either. It is sad to see that a young person of 25 years old had better prospects 65 years ago than today. That is not acceptable.”
Asked what message he has for Nigeria? He says “I want everyone in Nigeria to have a sober reflection on the country, to ask real questions about our security, health, education and standing in world.
Asked what message he has for Yoruba People? He says he wants the Yoruba People to rediscover the Omoluabi principles that defines a Yoruba person and to be their brother’s keepers anywhere in the world.