Ahead of the 2023 elections, about 120 Pan Yoruba groups, community based and civil society associations will meet in Lagos next week to take a common position on the Presidential candidate considered best for the people of the South West
The groups under the banner of All Yoruba Democratic Movements, (AYDM) made up of 120 groups among which are the Network for Yoruba Alliance, (NEYA), Oodua People’s Congress, (OPC New Era) Oodua Nationalist Coalition, (ONAC), South West Professional Forum, (SOWROF), Agbekoya Solidarity, Oodua Peoples Congress, (OPC Reformed), South West Progressive Women Coalition, Ibile, South West Hunters Union, ANACOWA representing Okada rider unions in the South West, Itsekiri Progressive Youth Forum, Covenant Group, (CG), Nigerian Automobile Technicians Association, (NATA) representing mechanics in the South West, Oodua Association of Bricklayers, Oodua Nationalist Congress, (ONAC) Egbe Majemu Titun, Association of the Physically Challenged in the South West, Traders and several artisan associations spread across the old Western Region including Edo and Delta States.
In a statement on Wednesday signed by its General Secretary, Mr Popoola Ajayi the meeting will be the largest gathering of Pan Yoruba groups in recent times.
The meeting will hold for two days, the first day being for leaders of coalition members where the 2023 election will be thoroughly debated while the second day is for the General Congress expected to draw close to 2000 delegates.
Leaders of Yoruba associations in South East and Northern Nigeria, plus those in Ivory Coast and in the West Coast will grace the occasion.
“The meeting is for for social, cultural and community based groups in the Old Western Region, all professional and artisan groups that matter will be at this historic event. The people will debate their future and chart a new pathway’ AYDM stated
The group said for the past two months it’s officials have toured the old Western Region meeting youth and women organisations, artisan groups, aged, poor and rich and professionals adding that the Lagos meeting will enable the groups to adopt an informed position on the 2023 Presidential election.
AYDM said across the South West three tendencies have emerged: Those clamouring for restructuring of the Federation; those calling for Yoruba self determination as the only option and those who hope the 2023 elections is an opportunity to address the historic injustice that continues to drag Nigeria into the red light district of socio-economic and political affairs. AYDM said the three positions represent the culture of diversity in Yoruba history and that it is the responsibility of each trend to convince the people based on meaningful and constructive engagement.
AYDM said it supports self determination as entrenched in the United Nations charter and it hopes the 2023 election will advance the campaign for Peoples voices to be heard and respected in their clamour what what is best for the common good.
The theme of the Conference is 2023: Which Way for Yoruba People and the Old Western Region? The Guest Speakers are Dr Adegoke and Prof Lucky Akaruese.
Special Guests are the Chairman, Supreme Egbesu Assembly, Chief Digifa Werenipre, President United Middle Belt Indigenous Peoples Congress, (UMBIPC), Barrister Abuka Onalo, Abdullahi Banire, former Secretary General Ohanaeze, Dim Uche Okwukwu and Kudu Abubakar representing Northern Peoples Alliance
AYDM said the contradictions in Nigeria have always imposed limited options of choice on the people adding that the Yoruba are conscious of the limitations but are bound to make a choice no matter how restricted the opportunities are.
“We are aware of the crisis that face our people, the economic meltdown, the food insecurity occasioned by armed invasion of Yoruba ancestral homeland, destruction of biodiversity and the upsurge of terrorism which threaten the livelihood of our people. The solution is not apathy or to stand on the fence. We must engage every situation with advance logic. We must seize every opportunity to deepen the quest of our people for the protection of our land and our heritage. AYDM believes the 2023 Presidential election should not be boycotted by people of the South West since that would only strengthen the forces of retrogression.
“We have to engage every situation and not to run away from it. We have to advance every position to will take Yoruba people to a the next bus stop even if that is not the desired destination.”
AYDM said the 2023 election may end up as a catalyst that the people needed to free themselves from the stranglehold of repression and illusion of grandeur. This is possible if the people own the campaign and determine its content and form.
Representatives of other ethnic groups in the North, South-South and South East will attend the event for solidarity message and strategic support.
No fewer than 2000 delegates are expected to grace the occasion with the hope that it will kick start the massive mobilization of voters across the South West using non-party based methodology. Established in November 2021, the AYDM is the largest coalition of Pan Yoruba groups spread across indigenous states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Yoruba, Itsekiri speaking areas of Kwara, Kogi and Edo States.
AYDM brings together the coalition of 121 groups across the South West states.
The first outing of the group drew close to 1500 members drawn from across the South West states, Kwara, Kogi, Edo and Delta States. Delegates from the North, South and the West African Coast also attended the event.
The objective of the group is to strengthen brotherhood, cooperation and solidarity among the several community based groups in the South West territories.