Below is the City People TV Instagram Live Chat with London based Hon. Alderman Erelu Ajiun Lola Ayonrinde. She is a member of the British Conservative party. She’s also the Convener of Agba Koni Tan Nile Oodua and she is at the vanguard of the agitation for Yoruba nation. On that programme she told what the Yoruba really want. And why there has been a lot of agitation for the Yoruba nation. She’s a stateswoman. She’s an experienced politician in England. She is the Erelu Tuwase of Ode-Remo. She is an orthodox Yoruba traditionalist and a direct biological descendant of King Sango of Oyo, who was a son of Ooni of Ile-Ife.
Thank you for joining us, Ma.
It’s a privilege to be able to do so.
Can you tell us a bit about Erelu Tuwase?
I am not Erelu Tuwase Ayorinde. I am Erelu Tuwase of Oderemo. And I am honouring all the languages. The political title. Lifetime. I am Henry Alderman Erelu Ajiulola Ayorinde. It’s a political title in England.
What is this agitation all about for the Yoruba? Why are the Yoruba agitating for the Yoruba nation?
Yorubas want to have Autonomy. They want Independence. They want Self-determination. They want a life of their own. Those are the things Yoruba want.
And how come they are talking about it now?
The agitation needs to be high now because it’s only human when for years, people have been requesting the opportunity to determine their own fate and no one is answering them. Nobody’s answering. It seems as if people are deaf. And if you have politicians, who sit in Abuja. And I find it quite frustrating. Politicians voted in by the Yoruba. They roll in Abuja. And all these people from the 6 Yoruba states. They’ve been asking for this opportunity to run their own lives. And I have no record, no, no record of any of the politicians voted for, in Abuja. Engaging in this… None, none. No record, no Senator. No House of Rep, took in to that. Which is why it’s unbelievable.
As somebody with experience of being voted for, elected and serving. I cannot believe the sheer deafness of this so-called elected politicians. That’s where the problem lies. What’s the point in voting all these people in? And the people have been shouting. I’ve spoken to many Yoruba in Nigeria. “Why are you not talking to your politicians in Abuja?” “Oh! We cannot find them. Oh! if you know their number.” I find it totally unacceptable by international standards. To get a phone number of any elected politician is like you’re digging for gold. They’re so rude, they don’t answer calls. And nobody sees them at the Constituency level. Maybe they’ve got justifiable reasons to do so. Because many of them anyway, probably they’re afraid people are going to come and beg them for money. But regardless, I find it totally below international standards that none of the Yoruba politicians who I know seems to have come down to Yorubaland, to their constituency to discuss. Be it Oduduwa Republic or to discuss the Restructuring. I find it totally unacceptable and some people are bound to be angry and rightly so! It’s their right! They are the ones who are suffering. They are not sitting lawmakers in Abuja who have access to 365 days of uninterrupted electricity, who are getting fantastic sums of money and who clearly they are behaving as if they are put on hold. Disgraceful! Disgraceful. Do you know how long it took these younger people in Nigeria say they want to do rally. They want to do rally. If it’s in England where I have been a politician, I would be going to my constituency to engage those young people in dialogue. Yet they are in Abuja. Abuja, is that the place that where they are meant to be? Abuja is supposed to be their office. They are supposed to return to their constituency and talk to those people. They never did. Disgraceful by international standards. If you know any – if anybody listening to me knows one politician, be it from the Federal House or state assembly, who came down to talk to people, who are frustrated, you just tell me. None of them! Below standard, disgraceful! Those voted for at the grassroots level don’t come down to talk to the grassroots. Ah! I think it’s about time somebody demand that they all be sacked. Honestly! And it’s so appalling, their behaviour. Next question?
You are the founder of Agba Onitan Ni Ile Oodua. Why did you set up that organization?
First of all, it’s not an organisation, I happen to have the privilege of being 99.9% experience. I hear, I see a business. I’m a medium. Yoruba would say which means inside me, I happen to have inherited this gift. When the Yoruba people were getting frustrated, many contacted me to ask me “Mama Erelu, what’s the way forward?” Then, of course, I spoke with our ancestors about what should be happening and I was told first we should go and be patient. I said but what patience? It’s not going to work because your people are frustrated. The only thing I was told quite clearly was that the elders should get up and begin to respond, but I discovered that the elders, found lot of misunderstandings between the elders in Yorubaland. Misunderstandings! I use the word misunderstandings. And where people are misunderstanding and they don’t facilitate understanding, you will have conflict.
So, Agba Onitan Ni Ile Oodua is about reducing level of misunderstanding, facilitating understanding, ensuring the conflicts that are around are dealt with. And Yoruba don’t forget, they don’t forgive one another. The pounded yam that somebody else pounded one year ago is still hot. They don’t forgive and if they don’t forgive, they are calling for totality of the elders in conflict. You know this has come. It means Unity. It means cohesion, interaction. If there is no cohesion, no interaction, there is no way? They can never get it until they do first, sort out the misunderstandings among the elders. The misunderstandings sorted out. Let them begin to understand one another. Reduce the conflicts. Do you know all these Yoruba organisations? The impression from afar is the rules written into pieces. Afenifere are actually supposed to be the most important Yoruba organization. That is where the Yoruba leader Papa is the Yoruba leader. Nobody else is the Yoruba leader. But we have this confusion whereby allegations that Afenifere’s are not listening. We have a group called Yoruba World Congress, and their leader is Papa Professor Banji Akintoye who is also a member of Afenifere. He’s a member of Afenifere. For as long as he is the member of Afenifere, Yoruba Congress is under Afenifere, it’s as simple as that. We have young people, believing that Yoruba World Congress is going to be the messiah. If the government of Nigeria is going to have a meeting with Yoruba organisation, Afenifere is going to be the one they will call. It’s been established since the days of Papa Awolowo. So, I am so dissatisfied that people are not being honest. Yoruba world congress is not the lead organisation. It’s not the lead organization in Yorubaland. No!
The lead organization is Afenifere. And there are 2 key chieftains or should I say 3. One, Papa Reuben Fasoranti. He is the leader of the Yoruba. He is the leader of Yoruba. Because Afenifere is the lead organisation.
Number two, Papa Ayo Adebanjo is the second chieftain of Afenifere. Of course we have Yinka Odumakin. So, those three are the forefront leaders. Papa Banji Akintoye is the Chairman of the Political Committee. He is still under Afenifere.
But the young people are running around. Running around like headless chicken believing that Papa Banji Akintoye is the leader of Yoruba… He is not. No, he is not the leader. But the young people need to know that. What you need to achieve your aspirations. All these is said in determination. It’s about time they go and get themselves behind Afenifere. They don’t want to. Rightly so because Afenifere, too many of them are talking about restructuring. And rightly so, people like Papa Banji Akintoye or.. of Yoruba is talking about cessation. Fine.
So, as far as Yoruba situation is concerned in Nigeria, there is unanimity. They agree. They want to run their own lives they want to go back to the defunct Western Region. Devolution of power must take place. Either such that restructuring means we go back to what it used to be before. Is it premier or region? Maybe that’s what they are aiming at. But let me repeat that at the moment, what Yoruba want can never happen as long as everybody is not rallying themselves behind Afenifere. If Afenifere is not functioning well, to some people’s understanding, it’s about time it’s sorted out. Afenifere is the lead organisation. It is not Yoruba World Congress. Not Yoruba World Congress. Yoruba World Congress and Afenifere, they need to sit down and find a way to facilitate one of the two options that people want. Either restructuring, that some people said it’s not going to happen. But even restructuring Afenifere under Papa Fasonti, they are saying very clearly, They will not negotiate with Nigerian government with the current Constitution. The constitution that was imposed. That should be the priority for everybody including Yoruba World Congress, that the constitution will not work. The constitution is not working. The constitution can not place Yoruba where they need to be. So why isn’t Yoruba World Congress supporting Afenifere in achieving that? Why is Yoruba World Congress not doing that. Yoruba World Congress rightly so, don’t believe Afenifere chieftains are listening. They don’t believe they are listening. They don’t seem to think so. But my question is Papa Banji Akintoye is their member. He is their member. So it is he, in current situation… if it were the international world, where two organisations are clearly meant to be working together, the leader of one organisation is meant to be under the other organisation. And we’re having this faction. Two factions. That’s the way I will say it. If they brought it before me, that’s what I’ll say. And my judgement would be Yoruba World Congress, please pack up your bags and go and join Afenifere. Whether it would work or not, if Yoruba genuinely want, one voice. One voice. One voice. It’s got to be in Afenifere. Under Afenifere. It’s not just Yoruba World Renewal, there’s also Afenifere Group, led by Honourable Wale Oshun.
So you asked me the question: What is it that the Yoruba people want? They want Autonomy. They are fed up. If they are fed up? They have to get the house in order. Who is the Master of Ceremony for getting their house in order? It is Afenifere. If Afenifere is supposed to be the lead organisation, then that’s where all the other organisations should be. We shouldn’t have a situation where one group carries themselves to UNPO. One group went there. Was Afenifere in support of that? How can Yoruba people get what they want when one group preferred their bags and went to UNPO then registered in Yoruba. Afenifere, the lead organization, where was that organisation? I am very clear based on the evidence. The evidence suggests there is no cohesion. They can’t get the unity to be able to get what they want. So if Yoruba people are so disorganised, Yoruba World Congress took their bags and registered… in fact I want to know this UNBO business. Went to register Yoruba. Yoruba nation. Not Yoruba Kitchen. They went to register Yoruba nation. Where was Afenifere? Now, I don’t have an answer. Until the likes of Papa Adebanjo, Papa Fasonti, P. Odunmakin come out and tell us where they are carrying the whole of Yoruba nation to go and register in UNBO.
The whole of Yoruba nation. So, the right hand and the left hand [Foreign Language]. The right hand and the left hand, the two hands, they are not rubbing themselves. The thing one hand cannot clap. If Yoruba World Congress took the whole of Yoruba nation to UNBO, and Afenifere was sitting at home. Doing what? And we say we want autonomy. We want this. Our house needs to be in order. Let people go and get it straight. Afenifere is the organisation we must put all the pressure on to deliver results. We must do that. That is the lead organisation. There is another organisation Yoruba Unity Forum. Isn’t that supposed to be a mediating organization led by Archbishop Ladipo Ayoladigbolu? They are as quiet as the suspense. We don’t know what is happening there again. How many organizations do we have? Okay. Any other organisation? So, it’s only Afenifere we should go and do a rally against. Me, I said so. If there’s any rally to be done, it is Afenifere we should face. Ask Afenifere where are we meant to go? But they’ve told us. They said there is no way what we want can be obtained until the constitutional matters was dealt with. Which means we go back to Western regional constitution. Go back to what Papa initiated.