SINCE its formation some decades ago, Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organization, has continued to engage the political class and the entire well-meaning Yoruba people on the need for regional collaboration for economic and political development of the leading nation within the Nigeria country. While some traced the group’s origin to the period of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, others believed it was Egbe Omo Oduduwa that was formed as a socio-cultural organization in 1947 and Action Group, a political party, founded in 1951 with the slogan Afenifere, later used for the party as a sobriquet by Adisa Akinloye.
The group, according to the latter, was officially established by 23 notable Yoruba leaders in Ibadan in 1993. Those leaders included Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Abraham Adesanya, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Chief Ganiyu Dawodu, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Olu Falae, among others with Ajasin and Adesanya emerging the leader and deputy leader respectively.
REGARDLESS of when it was formed, one thing that is consistent with Afenifere is that it has as its primary objective, the growth and development of the Yoruba nation within the larger Nigeria project irrespective of political and religious affiliations. It has over the years used the strategy of engaging the political class, religious and traditional institutions as well as the elite to pursue its agenda for the uplift of the Yoruba race. In line with its objective, the group has called on all state governors in the Southwest to improve regional cooperation and enhance the standard of living of the people noting that the Development Agenda for the South West of Nigeria (DAWN) and the Yoruba Agenda launched in Ibadan in 2017 provide a roadmap that the state governments can use to transform Yorubaland.
IT also reaffirmed its support for President Bola Tinubu led administration, calling on all well-meaning Nigerians to support the government in the onerous task of resuscitating the nation’s economy and improving the quality of life of all citizens. These were part of the major decisions that formed the communique of a meeting the group held in the Akure home of its national leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti. The group further urged the governors to address insecurity in the region and resuscitate the Yoruba Language by making it the medium of instruction at primary school level in the southwest states.
THE call by the Afenifere could not have come at a better time than this when Yoruba language has almost disappeared among the youths even when other nations are investing hugely on the documentation of the same language. The Hope notes that Yoruba language is becoming an endangered species unlike in the days of yore when literally icons like G.O Fagunwa and J.F Odunjo were known for their prowess in Yoruba language with some of their books still sought after due to the depth of their literature. Also, educative music which came from Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade, I.K Dairo and others are reference points. Today, the quality of music from the youths are largely empty in content and drug induced. Hence, we should go back to the drawing board to ensure that the suggestion made by Afenifere is well supported. Yoruba elite should encourage people to speak the language. To this end, we call on States Ministry of Education across the zone to encourage local authors to do bulletin in Yoruba language to stimulate and encourage people to speak the language.
IT is time we put off the mentality of the colonial masters who deliberately derogated the use of Yoruba as a means of communication. Linguists have proven that a child can comfortably learn and speak six different languages at the formative years. Hence, it is injurious to prevent children from speaking our language. It has also been proven that the language spoken in the environment of a child helps such a child to fit into such language. Proverbs are rich resources for socialization, and exposure of children to Ifa corpus help them to socialize better. The recent initiative by LASU to revive the use of Yoruba language through the introduction of General Studies should be embraced.
STILL on insecurity and banditry in the country, the group called on the Federal Government and security agencies to be more decisive and more proactive. It recommended immediate deployment of anti-terrorism devices and proper motivation of security personnel, as well as immediate engagement of local leaders in areas where insecurity is rife. It also reiterated the need to employ the use of the Biometric System in the planned census exercise because of the belief that it would considerably reduce the avalanche of anomalies usually associated with head-counting exercises in the past. The Hope is fully in support of the above because it will make our system work.
FURTHERMORE, we strongly call for the implementation of the agreement among the southwest states to pursue regional power and rail projects to deliver economic and social benefits to their people recently sealed at a two-day conference organized by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission in collaboration with Oodua Investment Company Ltd and hosted by the Ondo State Investments Promotion Agency (ODSIPA).