Injustice Fuelling Agitation for Oduduwa Nation, Nonagenarian Tells Buhari
Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
A 90-year-old foremost educationist Chief Olu Alex Ajayi yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to address injustice eroding patriotism among Nigerians and igniting sectarian agitations nationwide
Ajayi, also an erstwhile Registrar of West African Examinations Council (WAEC), expressed support for a united Nigeria, though attributed agitation for Oduduwa Nation to injustice, suffering and lack of trust in the federal system.
He made these remarks during a news conference he addressed in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital yesterday to herald his 91st anniversary holding on June 28.
In a 2016 interview, the nonagenarian claimed that he had the opportunity to issue WAEC certificate to President Buhari in the 1960s amid the certificate scandal allegation that trailed Buhari’s election
According to him, I had the opportunity of issuing WAEC certificates to three former Heads of State namely President Muhammadu Buhari, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and late Gen. Sani Abacha in the 60s.
Speaking during the conference yesterday, Ajayi rejected the agitation for the secession of the Southwest people being championed by a Yoruba human rights activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo (a.k.a Sunday Igboho).
He, however, acknowledged that Oduduwa “is a genuine agitation and reaction against the insult we are receiving from some people who thought they are superior and more entitled than us.
“It is a necessary reaction from the unthinkable insult we are getting from some people. One of those that had been insulting us even said they would continue until everyone up to the lagoon are under their political and cultural hegemony.
“As much as I do not support the breakup of Yoruba Nation from Nigeria, we are entitled to self respect, self reverence and liberty. We should be free from oppression,” Ajayi said reflecting on serial herdsmen attacks on farmers in Southwest.
He, therefore, urged the federal government “to stop the agitation. This requires addressing all forms of noticeable injustice. The federal government can create more states and local governments to even spread our resources.”
The nonagenarian, also, supported the decision of the Southern Governors Forum to prohibit open grazing, describing open grazing as anachronistic and primitive that should not be encouraged in the 21st century.
He urged each state of the federation “to work out a strategy for effective livestock management,” suggesting that the establishment “of ranches in all the states where we can keep our cattle and restrict their movement.”
Under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the old Western Region, Ajayi reflected that ranches were created at Erunfun and Oke-Ako in Ekiti State. During that time, we had better breeds of cattle in this part of the world.
“Look at the way some of these herders behaved, they would come and kill, rape and forcefully take over parcels of farmland that do not belong to them. I feel numb, insulted and terrified when pastors, monarchs were kidnapped and made to pay ransoms and these should not continue.”
Bemoaning the falling standard of education, the former registrar, said lack of commitment on the part of policy makers, teachers and students coupled with poor training were responsible for the decadence in the system.
While lamenting the falling standard of education in the federation, Ajayi appealed to the federal government to initiate policies that would guarantee thorough training for teachers to restore the lost glory.
He said: “In the old Western region, the policy was that you would spend six years in a Standard School that would groom students properly. Teachers then were well trained and very devoted. But there is expansion in the system and anytime there is expansion, there is deterioration.
“We also have the children not absorbing well, teachers not well taken care of. Corruption has gone into schools. Many of the teachers got someone to write their examinations for them. In fact, mass expansion of schools was affecting quality,” Ajayi noted with grave concern for the future of Nigeria
He explained his decision to write a book, Legacy on the Move at 90, to teach the younger generation about legacies of honesty, integrity, sacrifice and contribution to scholarship. He said he would unveil the book to mark his 91st birthday.
He said: “We are not moving forward at all. When Chief Obafemi Awolowo came, he had a virgin forest to clear. He got into the office prepared and was able to face the jungle. He got a degree in Commerce and later Law. He was well equipped for the job.
“He was able to turn around the entire region using resources from cocoa, timber, palm trees, rubbers and other agricultural products. Awolowo did this with personal integrity. But today, our governments only rely on the Federation Accounts and poor IGR that were never enough”.