Prof. Banji Akintoye, the newly elected leader of Yoruba nation on Thursday promised to uphold and showcase Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s legacies, respect the youth and not interfere in partisan politics.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Akintoye, a 84-year-old academic and former Senator was elected as the Yoruba nation leader by various Yoruba organisations on Aug. 22 in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Akintoye, an Emeritus Professor of History at a news conference in Lagos organised to give his acceptance of the election, said that what the nation needed was a Yoruba leadership that would be non-partisan.
His acceptance text was entitled “My Response to the Decision of the Meeting that Took Place in Ibadan on August 22, 2019”.
He said: “I deeply appreciate the persons, the organisations and the leaders who met in Ibadan on Aug. 22 and took the step of electing me.
“I am convinced that all of them, individually and collectively, were motivated in this action by the desire to see the interests of our Yoruba nation further advanced, especially in the circumstances in which we Yoruba people find ourselves today.
“I and all who will work with me will, in all things uphold and showcase the Awolowo legacy as the noblest and proudest modern legacy of our Yoruba nation- the pure spring with the waters of which I was nurtured by his awesome hands.”
Akintoye thanked Yoruba leaders for their acknowledgement of the roles he had been playing here at home and among the large Yoruba Diaspora across the world to raise the level of awareness among our people.
He added: “I am indeed humbled that I was so highly regarded by those who assembled at the Ibadan meeting even though I was not present and was not party to their meeting.
“I am glad that those who assembled at the Ibadan meeting and took the decision are all in agreement with me in my firm and unshakable conviction that what we Yoruba nation need most today is our unity.
“With all sense of humility and modesty, I believe, with joy in my heart, that my people at large recognise and appreciate that I have given much in the struggle for the freedom.
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He urged all Yoruba leaders to work as a determined team for the defence, protection and promotion of the nation.
“We shall commit to fostering and promoting ideas and agendas that will open wide doors of opportunities to our youths and our women.
“We shall commit ourselves to serious efforts to forge the quality of Yoruba unity and morality that will impart serious strength, confidence, sense of national oneness, and sense of duty, to our people.
“We commit ourselves to relating and interacting positively, without discrimination, with the Yoruba politician, the elected Yoruba public official and professional bureaucrat at every level of government in Nigeria,” Akintoye said.
According to him, the new leadership would relate with governments of all Yoruba states to the end that they will all consciously employ their positions, power and influence for uplifting, uniting, empowering and enriching our Yoruba nation.
The professor added that his administration would evolve a powerful drive for arousing state governments and people to revive endangered Yoruba language, and the teaching of nation’s history to school children.
“We shall, with respect and family love, encourage our state governors to write their names in gold in our nation’s history by pursuing great transformational programmes.
Akintoye said that the Yoruba youth were the solution to the nation’s problem because they remained repository of the power, saying that the youths would be respected, encouraged and energised.
The new leader, who affirmed Afenifere’s prominent stature in the Yoruba struggle, said that he was proud to have long been a member of such a highly esteemed Yoruba organisation, commending Chief Reuben Fasotanti and his deputy Chief Ayo Adebanjo.
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Akintoye said: “I am confident, and I will do my very best to ensure, that the love, trust and respect that have existed between me and my long-time friends and associates will not only continue but will actually grow.
“We, individually and collectively, have the duty of helping our whole Yoruba nation’s political class to re-embrace the old Yoruba wisdom that not all things that are at variance are necessarily at enmity.
Responding to questions on Yoruba position on 2023 Presidential Election, Akintoye said that the new leadership of Yoruba nation would not care about elections but the destiny of Yoruba nation to lead the world.
NAN reports that other Yoruba leaders at conference included Aare Kunle Oshodi, Prof. Wale Adeniran, Prof. Kola Ogundowole, Evang. Kunle Adesokan, Alhaji Wahab Asape, Chief Niyi Bobajoko and Mr Victor Taiwo, among others.(NAN)