The Yoruba and Edwin Clark’s Outburst, By Olukayode Thomas

Olukayode Thomas

Reactions to Mr. Edwin Clark’s statement that Yorubas don’t have leaders have not only been sharp and swift, it has attracted general condemnation for the Chief, instead of sober reflection by the Yorubas.

Mr. Clark may be loquacious and undiplomatic; but one question we need to ask ourselves and reflect on is, do we really have leaders in Yorubaland?

A leader is a shepherd who leads and protects his sheep from wolves. The good shepherd (leader) will lay down his life to protect his flock, but the present ‘leaders’ of the Yoruba race could best be described as wolves in shepherd clothing, who are devouring, rather developing Yorubaland, they are only interested in self-enrichment.

Let facts speak. In times past, it is an undisputable fact that the Yorubas are pacesetter in education. Our public primary and secondary schools are renown nationwide and families from different parts of Nigeria desire to send their kids to schools in Yorubaland.

But today, public education has collapsed in Yorubaland. Most public primary and secondary schools in Yorubaland are populated by children whose parents cannot afford to send their wards to private schools at home or abroad.

Genuine leaders will be concerned and fix the schools, but not the new crop of leaders we have, the solution is a quick fix for them, their friends and family. They send their children to private schools at home and abroad and watch as the masses they claim to love are getting a sub-standard education.

I will be happy if anybody can prove me wrong.  Many Yoruba leaders from councilors, to local government chairmen, state and federal legislators, governors and other class of political officer holders and senior civil servants send their children to the best local and foreign schools. Spin doctors will reel out the billions of naira they have spent to rehabilitate public schools, but if they have fixed our schools like they claim, why send their kids to private schools?

Universities and other tertiary institutions owned by the Yoruba states are in a terrible shape, most of them are glorified secondary schools. LASU, established by Baba Kekere (Lateef Kayode Jakande) is not only in a sorry state today, it is the most expensive public university in Nigeria, ditto Osun State University.

Most times, I wonder why our leaders in Yorubaland look the other way while most of our youth are Area Boys, Keke Marwa or Okada Riders, most of our young ladies are hawking paraga, bread or their bodies or doing alabaru.

While most countries of the world empower their youth with education, sports and entertainment where they could exhibit their God given talents, our leaders “empower” our youth with things that will make them subservient forever.

Sports used to be a powerful tool for empowerment in Yorubaland, but not anymore. The industry that gave us many heroes and heroines in the not too distant past has been neglected. Look at the national teams in all the sports; you are hard pressed to find a Yoruba star athlete.

 Most times, I wonder if our rulers in Yorubaland have not read that the captain of Chelsea and former England Captain, John Terry’s parents were petty thieves and drug dealers. What John would have been without football remains a huge question.

One wonders if our present leaders have bothered to ask themselves what the life of American kids will be without sports and entertainment. They have not thought it wise to provide enabling environment for the youths to excel; rather they leave the sports industry in the hands of charlatans who are exploiting our kids’ talents and resources.

Yoruba leadership in manufacturing is now history, most of the industries has been converted to storage houses or churches. Housing, roads, infrastructure, social services, security, commerce and others industries are not working.

The most painful is agriculture. Who could imagine that a region that was built on agriculture, that paid the highest minimum wage in Nigeria with revenue from agriculture, provided free education, free health care, the best housing programme, built the first television station  in Africa, Liberty Stadium, roads and achieved so much from the revenue from agriculture can no longer even plant what to eat. Most of the food in the Yoruba marketplace are either from other parts of country or are imported, yet we have good land and weather.

Even Holland, a country below sea level with horrible weather not only plants what its citizens consume, they have more than enough to export.

With ocean, sea and rivers around us, and good land for fishing farming and rearing cattle, goat, pigs and other types of animals, we still rely on other parts of the country or importation of these products.

Equally sad is the fact that a region that was self-sufficient in times past now has its governors going cap in hand to Abuja monthly for federal allocation.

Apart from Lagos that could boast of appreciable internally generated revenue, most Yoruba states rely on Abuja. What then happens if the price of oil drops to $10 per barrel today? What will the Yoruba leaders do? Go a-borrowing to meet their needs, and enslave generations unborn?

As for Clark’s second allegation that the present Yoruba leaders can easily be bought over, he must be an expert in the business of buying people to know those that could be bought.

But his allegation gives us the opportunity to reflect on the words of former chairman of defunct ACN in Kaduna State, Mohammed Musa Soba, who described the national leadership of the party as “rogue leadership,” and accused them of selling the candidature of its presidential candidate in the 2011 election Nuhu Ribadu to the PDP for one hundred million dollars.

The defunct CPC presidential candidate in the same election, Mohammadu Buhari, also blamed the ACN leaders for selling South-West to the PDP and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

After all is said, Mr. Clark’s statement calls for sober reflection rather than a rain of insult. We need a leader like Hugo Chavez to halt the present slide and restore the lost glory of the Yoruba race and by extension Nigeria, Yoruba ronu.

Mr. Olukayode Thomas is an award-winning sports journalist based in Lagos


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