A new twist was introduced into the Ibadan explosion of 16 January, 2024 by the Yoruba Self-Determination Movement (YSDM) when it alleged that the explosion was not caused by any errant legal or illegal miner, be it Malian or Nigerian, but that it was a failed assassination attempt on the life of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Led by Prof. Banji Akintoye, YSDM is a pro-Yoruba or Oodua Nation nationalist group.
In an open letter to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, YSDM commiserated with the governor and people of Oyo State over the gruesome incident but also commented on what many have described as Makinde’s hasty conclusion that mining explosives, stored in a private home in a thickly populated residential area, was the cause of the explosion that was directly responsible for the death of seven people, with close to a hundred others wounded, and causing extensive damage to properties worth billions of Naira.
Said YSDM: “One group of our Yoruba patriots has suggested that the explosion was caused by a big military-grade bomb; that the bomb seems to have been brought to Ibadan for use to wipe out a large number of leading Yoruba citizens gathered at a large celebration in the International Hall, University of Ibadan, at which President Tinubu was scheduled to be present; and that when President Tinubu did not attend, the owners of the bomb took it back to an inappropriate storage in a living house in nearby Bodija Estate, where some sort of mishandling caused it to detonate…”
This allegation is weighty and could not have been lightly made by an organization of YSDM’s stature or pedigree, which is the foremost assemblage of Yoruba self-determination protagonists. Akintoye himself is a scholar of international repute and a leading figure in the Yoruba socio-cultural-cum political organization, AFENIFERE. It is instructive that neither Makinde nor the Federal Government has responded openly to YSDM’s allegation. The relevant agencies must still be investigating the matter. Could the allegation be true or is it a mere crying wolf?
Hopefully, when the investigation is done with, the authorities will let us know. For sure, this incident is not one that should be swept under the carpet, not in view of other circumstances surrounding it, apart from the alleged attempt on the president’s life. Remember, it was in this same city of Ibadan that the masterminds of the July 1966 counter-coup cornered and killed Nigeria’s first military Head of State, Gen. JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi, and his host, the Western Region governor, Col. Francis Adekunle Fajuyi. The events that followed led to a 30-month civil war. Can Nigeria afford another civil war?
Before arriving at its conclusion that the Ibadan explosion was an assassination attempt on Tinubu’s life, the YSDM laid the foundation as follows: “Those among us who are knowledgeable about explosives say that this explosion is not consistent with an explosion caused by a miner’s store of dynamites. They say that a miner’s dynamite can only be stored as packages in boxes and bags, and that a mishap with the contents of the storage can only set up a series of explosions lasting for some minutes, and cannot set up one mighty explosion that does all the terror and destruction (that took place at Ibadan)”.
Continuing, the YSDM told Makinde: “It does not sound plausible, Your Excellency, that any master miner would store a large quantity of dynamites of his profession in his home or bedroom. Furthermore, and very importantly, what do our Oyo State Government and people know about this miner who is said to be from Mali Republic, who does considerable mining on our land with a Federal Government licence, who pays business taxes to the Federal Government only, and who, according to some of our people who have had contacts with him before, desires no contact with the Oyo State Government or the local government of his place of residence?”
Not done yet, the YSDM argued: “And still further, Your Excellency, it is very well known that Dejo Oyelese Street, off Adeyi avenue, where the explosion happened, is one of the choicest parts of Bodija Estate, containing the homes of many prominent Yoruba persons – professors (retired and serving), highly-placed professionals, retired governors, retired senior civil servants, etc. – whose houses have now been destroyed. Does the importance of Dejo Oyelese Street have anything to do with this explosion? In other words, was the explosion meant to eliminate many important Yoruba citizens at one blast, with the purpose of seriously hurting the Yoruba nation? Is this (explosion) some sort of threat to us Yoruba people in Nigeria?”
Questions, questions, and questions but will the appropriate answers ever come other than those meant to sweep this matter under the carpets, like the others before it? The reason being that the authorities themselves are complicit in the criminal activities taking place all over the place. Where they are not criminally negligent, they are hands-in-gloves with the perpetrators of all sorts of criminal activities that hurt the people they are elected into office to serve and whose interests they swore on oath to protect and advance.
Can our political leaders and top traditional rulers claim ignorance of both legal and illegal mining activities taking place in their domain? Where they and/or their cronies are not directly involved in these activities that destroy our environment and benefit the people, the communities and the government itself nothing, are they not in cahoots with those that do? Why is it that our governments cannot take these licences and partner with professional miners openly and transparently to mine our God-endowed mineral resources to our benefit? Why are aliens the ones carting away our resources before our very eyes? They feign it but can any of our governors in all honesty claim not to be aware of the rip-off going on? Are our leaders not part of the racket?
In the final analysis, nothing is hidden. There are no selfish and/or corrupt activities that anyone engages in that is hidden. Afterall, they have accomplices-in-crime. They have foot soldiers running their dirty errands for them. I will give a few examples. Why are they not allowing DAWN – Development Agenda for Western Nigeria – to function properly? Why the lack of synergy among our leaders for the rapid development of the South-west? Why is everyone more concerned with the “development” of their individual pockets? Why are we not properly funding Amotekun? With all the criminality being unleashed on Yoruba land today, why is securing the life and property of the people not a priority? Why do our leaders maintain criminal silence or speak tongue-in-cheek when they should have spoken out forcefully in defence of their people?
I started my journalism profession at the Ibadan-based Sketch newspapers, owned by the southwest states, in 1985 but where is Sketch today? Why did our governors of the time allow it to die? From what we heard, when those who wanted to buy and convert it into their personal property failed in their bid, they let the newspaper die! The Yoruba used to be the doyen of the media; no more! If you give ideas that can benefit the people to our leaders to execute, they always look for avenues to appropriate and corner it for themselves. Examples are legion.
Ask our young men and women churning out proposals after proposals, they have stories of woes to tell. I, too, suffered such in the past. Ask our professionals in the Diaspora bubbling with ideas and who, being patriotic enough, came home to sell their ideas to our leaders; they will regal you with stories of betrayal and selfishness. Ask our leaders what happened to Odua Net (O’Net). If you fling open the closets of our leaders, serving or retired, dead or alive, you will cry for Yoruba land. It is said that the enemy within throws the door open for the enemy without. I don’t know if I can make any exceptions, but if you can, please do!
It is time we began to hold the feet of our leaders to the fire. What are they doing with the humongous amount they collect monthly from Abuja? What are they doing with their security votes that secure nothing? Why are the Yoruba regressing on all the fronts where they used to occupy the commanding heights – the professions, education, industries, name it! We have seen Dangote refinery; we have seen the BUA and Dangote cement factories; we have seen Ibom Air, among many others; let our leaders tell us the industries they, too, have established.
Having said all of the above, it does not in any way exonerate Miyetti and kidnappers from censure for their renewed criminality. I said somewhere else that I have removed “Allah” from Miyetti’s name because there is nothing godly in them and their activities. Now, why is Miyetti demanding that no Fulani should be arrested over the Ibadan explosion? What does Miyetti know about the explosion? If there was no Fulani involvement, why threaten the government not to arrest any Fulani over it? And if involved, why should any criminal be shielded by anyone, except like-minded criminals?
Miyetti’s latest antics include the brazen setting up of an armed-to-the-teeth Fulani militia, whereas Amotekun and other para-military groups elsewhere were denied sophisticated arms. Not only that, they have begun hurling attacks at the Tinubu administration, threatening to make the country ungovernable for him and inhospitable for the generality of Nigerians. In a statement issued on January 24, 2024, Miyetti virtually declared war on the country; that is treason. Not only its leaders but also all its militia members must be brought to book.
Miyetti’s declaration of what it called “inevitable jihad” against Nigeria is a criminal act and the days of treating these criminals with kid gloves, which has emboldened them, must now come to an end. Fortunately, their grand patron is no longer in office. The new sheriff in town must act swiftly, firmly, and decisively if this country is to continue to hold together. Now, the danger in Miyetti’s declaration of war on all Nigerians who do not subscribe to their hideous ideology is that they gave only two options: Either we succumb and become slaves to Miyetti or we pick up the gauntlet and fight to defend ourselves, our territories, our liberties and freedom.
Unfortunately, I have not heard much condemnation of Miyetti from the North’s leaders and establishment. Does it mean that Miyetti has their back? Is Miyetti merely running errands? If the feudal North will not call its bad boys to order, then, bad boys from other parts of the land will rise and confront them. And their own leaders, too, will back them up. That appears to be the tone of a statement by the YSDM denouncing what it described as “the Fulani declared war on Yoruba Nation”. Reeling off case after case of embarrassing killing of traditional rulers and other citizens, and the kidnapping of school children in Yoruba land, the YSDM vowed that the Yoruba would defend themselves.
The die is cast! Before the vultures begin to swirl, we must act fast!
Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of its Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-chief, BOLAWOLE was also the Managing Director/ Editor-in-chief of THE WESTERNER newsmagazine. He writes the ON THE LORD’S DAY column in the Sunday Tribune and TREASURES column in New Telegraph newspaper on Wednesdays. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.