The Yoruba Committee on National Conference met two days ago at the Isara-Remo, Ogun State-home of an elder statesman, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, to strategise on the selection of delegates for the Southwest geopolitical zone ahead of the National Conference.
Some of the prominent Yoruba leaders at the meeting were Sir Olaniwun Ajayi (host); Chief Olu Falae; Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State; Gen. Alani Akinrinade (rtd.); Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti; former presidential candidate, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite; Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; Pastor Tunde Bakare; Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi (rtd.) and Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) perturbed that there is no single Muslim among the prominent Yoruba leaders who attended the meeting. It gives room for suspicion. Such a gathering lacks balance. It is not only parochial but also myopic. They should be able to look ahead. Are they saying there are no Muslims in Yorubaland?
Governor Mimiko (Ondo) was there. He is a Christian. What of Governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Isiaka Ajimobi (Oyo), Iklil Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Raji Fashola (Lagos) who are all Muslims? Why were they not invited? Is it because they are Muslims?
Why was the attendance heavily tainted with Christian clerics? A prominent pastor was there with a bishop and an archbishop whereas there was no single Imam. Where are the Imams and Sheikhs of Yorubaland?
The Yoruba Committee on National Conference has started on a wrong footing. They should realize that the world is changing and they should allow that change to reflect. Gone are those days when decisions are taken without consulting Muslims. Muslim docility has become history. Nigerian Muslims have donned the garb of proactiveness.
It is a coup against Muslims. The Committee is on its own. We reject its deliberations and whatever the outcome may have been. For it to be credible and relevant, it must convene another meeting where Muslims will be well represented. At least the likes of Professor Daud Noibi, Executive Secretary of the Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria (MUSWEN); Shaykh Zughlool, founder and proprietor of Daar ad-Da’wah, Isolo, Lagos and Shaykh Habeebullahi Al-Ilori of Markaz, Agege should be there. These three alone are renowned Islamic clerics and they would have balanced the list and made it acceptable.
Alhaji Abdul Azeez Arisekola Alao, the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland and Vice President-General of the whole South West of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs is the undisputable leader of Muslims in Yorubaland. Any meeting of Yoruba leaders without his presence is a charade. Others are former Minister of Works and President of the Ansarud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Alhaji Femi Okunnu; foremost industrialist, Chief S. O. Babalola and Chief Bola Babalakin. Anyone who claims that he does not know these Muslim leaders is being economical with reality but extravagant in imagination.
The notion of a Christian South is misleading. Islam had been in Yorubaland more than a hundred years before the British bombarded Lagos in 1851. Today, Muslims form a large majority in Yorubaland. Any attempt, therefore, to take a stand among the Yoruba on the proposed National Conference without due recognition for and consultation of prominent Yoruba Muslim leaders and scholars is not only an exercise in futility but also autocratic and therefore unacceptable.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)