Sunday 21 April 2024

Secession? Not A Laughing Matter! - By Wole Olaoye

What did Modupe Onitiri Abiola smoke on the morning of Saturday, April 13, 2024, when she made a recorded broadcast declaring the secession of the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria from the Nigerian federation? What demon possessed all those who participated in the farcical drama which did not even measure up to even the most amateur of the celebrated dramaturgy of the indigenous Yoruba folk? Those are the questions being asked by befuddled Nigerians.

An array of charms and amulets, one English pump-action gun, two locally-made guns, two security jackets, 30 pieces of torch lights, five African horse tails, 49 bells and seven pieces of walkie talkies and accessories, Yoruba Nation flags, 405 live cartridges, 72 pairs of camouflage uniforms, 199 pairs of plain green uniform and hundreds of machetes — made up the arsenal of the deluded freedom fighters. The police later found an additional stash of weapons in the premises of the University College Hospital, UCH.

Their invasion of the Oyo State Secretariat where they briefly hoisted their flag —before a combined force of the police, Amotekun Corps, Civil Defence, and ultimately the Nigerian Army smoked them out and publicly humiliated them— caught the nation unawares.


The fake nationalists were exhibiting traces of the mental disease called delusion of grandeur, a mental illness characterised by a great divergence from reality.

Their leader, Modupe Onitiri Abiola, apparently has a history of name dropping and attention seeking. She claims to be one of the widows of the late martyr of democracy, Chief MKO Abiola; but a section of the Abiola family has disputed this. She contested the 2015 gubernatorial elections in Lagos State and performed dismally. The Yoruba Nation invasion was supposed to catapult her to the pinnacle of leadership of one of the most sophisticated ethnic nationalities in Africa, the Yoruba (hehehe…)

Their voodoo charms failed them, making commentators wonder if they had forgotten to seek the support of Esu, the Yoruba god of mischief known for his ability to upend the expectations of presumptuous people. He is the god of surprises and change, for good or bad. He revels in creating disorder and confusion. For him, the world is a playground and he loves to stir things up just for the fun of it. Except that what happened in Ibadan wasn’t funny at all.

One elder who claims mastery in esoteric matters thought that, since they were so delusional, they ought to have given Esu his dues before setting out by intoning the panegyrics:


“Divine emissary of Transformation… Landlord of the crossroads, dance to the drum. Tickle the toe of the Drum. Move beyond strife. We shall use your sword to touch the earth. Esu, don’t confuse me. Don’t perplex me. Don’t confound me. Let disorientation be the lot of someone else.”

By the time the little skirmish was over, the pseudo-revolutionaries looked like a throwback to the spectacle of ancient prisoners of war on parade by the famed Ibadan war general, Basorun Ogunmola.

Yoruba people, on whose behalf the whole farcical drama was alleged to have been staged, are embarrassed because they don’t fight their wars in such a puerile— even demented— manner. Historically, in the geographical space called Nigeria today, there is no other ethnic nationality with a history of many civil wars like the Yoruba. They don’t take war lightly. They don’t start what they can’t finish.

Three days after the invasion, the Araba Oluawo (Chief Priest) of Ibadanland, Chief Odegbola Ifalere and other Babalawos performed some rituals, chanting incantations and cursing those behind the invasion of the state secretariat.


Although Afenifere, the foremost Yoruba socio-political group, has condemned the development along with prominent traditional rulers and leaders of thought, online analysts have been examining the contemporary fad where every motley disgruntled group threatens to take their people out of the Nigerian union. The ease with which negative ideas are widely disseminated through the social media coupled with socio-economic factors that have rendered many people recruitable into virtually any harebrained scheme, are twin factors that have been highlighted.

In its statement, Afenifere stated that there is no such thing as Democratic Republic of the Yoruba and demanded the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators and their sponsors. “Yoruba is an important component of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And as is well-known, there cannot be a sovereign republic within an extant sovereign republic… Afenifere is of the strong view that President Bola Tinubu administration is taking steps to rejig Nigeria in a manner that would make the country become one that every citizen would be proud of soonest”, said the organisation.

It added: “Restructuring the country is a sure way of accelerating this. Afenifere strongly believes that when restructuring is effected with constituent entities allowed to be in control of their own affairs, Nigeria will become beneficial to everyone. This is why we are relentless in our agitation for restructuring…”

If the misguided invaders were not on drugs, they certainly were under some form of hypnosis. Even in the heat of their humiliation, they still threatened to cause more havoc if security agents refused to release them.

Not a few people were surprised by the age range and gender mix of the wannabe secessionists later arraigned on a seven-count charge bordering on treasonable felony, unlawful society, illegal possession of a firearm, going armed and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.

The list included the following women: 25-year-old Ayanwale Rofiat; 65-year-old Dosunmu Toyin; 78-year-old Abiona Esther; 64-year-old Omoyalowo Funsho; 60-year-old Tola Olufemi and 58-year-old Taiwo Titilayo.

The men arraigned along with the women are: Ismaila Adepoju, 45 years; Ayanwale Saburi, 28years; Adeola Elegbede, 27years; Fatoki Anthony, 34years; Olalere Mathew, 54years; Isaac Friday, 27 years and Ismaila Malomo Peter, 65 years.

Others are Farumbi Wasiu, 30; Muritala Abefe, 40; Adeyemo Joseph, 29; Adeyemo Peter, 75; Adesokan Hameed, 37; Adejumo Lateef, 60; Ogundeji Alabi, 55; Ayoola David, 40; Ojo Olufemi, 52; Ajani Ezekiel, 42; and Amos Oluwaseyi Ogundeji, 45; Ademola Adeniyi, 29; Salaudeen Wahab, 56; Oritola Alabi, 44; Kayode Fakeye, 45; and Yusuf Adebayo, 67 years old.

In a rambling chat with newsmen, Ogundeji who is a lecturer at the Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo, justified his participation: “Yoruba as an indigenous nation…Our leadership went to all Yoruba-speaking states to serve official letters written by our leaders and we were given our copy. After that is the proclamation, followed by the declaration, occupation and notification to the world that Yoruba is an indigenous nation. We were at the Secretariat, Agodi in Ibadan to celebrate and rejoice because of the new nation that was birthed…”

Surely, somebody needs the attention of a shrink?

Not Funny

We must resist the temptation of dismissing the farcical breakaway as a mere comic relief. Secession is not a laughing matter. The challenge before us is to recognise that there are active centrifugal forces maliciously gyrating in real life and on social media. In the latter case, strange philosophies are propagated to justify hate vending and reinforce ancient prejudices to separate man from fellow man and lionise ethnic idiocy. That is how the phenomenon of ‘Unknown Gunmen’ is born.

As we have seen, high educational attainment is not a foolproof inoculation against this disease. While the Yoruba Nation secessionists are made to face justice and the mentally debilitated among them sent for medical evaluation and treatment, the greater challenge is for the authorities to tackle warmongers wherever they are found, on the cyber superhighway or in real life. Never should we forget Bertrand Russel’s admonition that war does not determine who is right — only who is left.

The minimum agreement we, the people and government of Nigeria, can reach on this matter is that secessionists must be called out for the anarchists that they are, and legally removed from circulation.



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