The convener of the Yoruba Assembly, Lt. General Alani Akinrinade (rtd), Thursday pleaded with the Yorubas to shake off political, ethnic and socio-cultural differences and come together to restore the pride of place of the region in the march to seek a restructuring of the nation.
But as the former Chief of Army Staff whose speech kick-started discussions of the assembly which had in attendance leading traditional and political leaders from the region which included representatives of the Yorubas from Kogi, Kwara and Itsekiri nationalities made his submissions, speakers upon speakers insisted on the restructuring of the country along the present geo-political zones.
The Yorubas in Kogi and Kwara States which were represented by Chief Joe Olarogun and Ayo Aberoran respectively, however, demanded the excision of the Yorubas speaking people from the two states to join their kiths and kins in other parts of the Yoruba nation.
Attendance of the assembly was literally turned into a political assembly as only chieftains and members of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) populated the venue with the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, and other leading traditional rulers from Oyo and Osun States staying away from the meeting.
Also absent at the event was the matriarch of the Awolowo dynasty, Mama H.I.D. Awolowo, chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, Akinrinade in his remarks stated that he convened the meeting after wide consultations with elders and leaders of Yorubaland to reflect on how to make Nigeria conducive to the development of Yoruba civilisation.
He explained that the assembly was not meant to say or do anything that would detract from the unity of the country, but said, "it is intended to allow us, as Yoruba sons and daughters all over the federation o rub minds on the way out of the country's crippling underdevelopment with specific emphasis on the parlous state of affairs in the South-west.
He said: "I believe in the unity of our federation and have spent most of my adult life lending credence to that assertion. Today's assembly is to allow the Yoruba nation, across social, political and sub ethnic divides to rob minds about the future of our own corner of Nigeria."
Akinrinade, who traced the economic struggle of the Yoruba nation to the 1960s when the Federal Government was taking loans from the defunct government of Western Nigeria, lamented that apart from Lagos State, "our region has become a mendicant region that waits for limited droppings from the table of the Federal Government in Abuja."