The Afenifere Renewal Group, a Yoruba socio-political group, has condemned the attacks on Rilwanu Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos, after the monarch’s hate speech to Igbo residents in Lagos.
In a statement Tuesday, the ARG said those hiding under democracy to malign the person and office of the Oba of Lagos must not forget that democracy cannot obliterate traditions and cultural privileges.
“The ARG would like to say that the Yoruba culture is self-regulatory and it leaves room for check and balances,” said Kunle Famoriyo, the group’s Publicity Secretary.
“No one needs to teach us how to put our house in order. We therefore condemn all the uncharitable calls for sanctions and apologies.”
Mr. Akiolu, in the run-up to the gubernatorial election in Lagos, had ordered the Igbos in the state to vote for his anointed candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode of the All Progressives Congress or “perish inside the lagoon”.
The monarch’s statement angered the Igbo community in the state, even as it came under severe criticism, with Christian groups and opposition politicians lambasting him for the utterance.
Femi Falana, a respected human rights lawyer, called on Mr. Akiolu to apologize to the Igbos.
The ARG insisted that the Oba’s statement should not be classified as a hate speech.
“For explanatory purpose, it must be emphasised that the Oba is supreme in Yoruba cultural context and in Lagos,” said Mr. Famoriyo. “The lagoon is seen in the traditional context as the defender of Lagos’ interest.
“It is believed that those working against Lagos’ interest would be swallowed up by the lagoon.
“It is therefore mischievous to equate the Oba’s comment to a hate speech or ethnic violence; the same could have been said to any Yoruba man or group perceived by the royalty of working against the domain’s interest.
“The revered stool of Oba of Lagos and the present occupant cannot be subjected to public disparage under an intangible democratic right that fails to understand and accommodate our cultural disposition. We hope every negative campaign will stop henceforth.”
The ARG also congratulated all the elected officials in the Southwest states for their victory at the polls during the 2015 general elections.
They also thanked Southwest voters for voting their conscience and for voting peacefully.
Specifically, the group congratulated Mr. Ambode of Lagos State; Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State; and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State for their deserved electoral victories and charged them to “remember always why the people gave them the mandate.”
“You were endorsed by the ARG because of your demonstrated commitment and our conviction that the current renaissance of good governance, developmental strides and welfare policies that has commenced in our land, can only continue, be sustained and flourish under your administration,” the statement said.
The group also applauded all elected National Assembly and Houses of Assembly members, charging them to represent the interest of the Southwest geo-political zone in particular and Nigeria in general.
The group commended President Goodluck Jonathan for conceding defeat in a manner that defused a looming violence that might have plunged the country into a crisis.
“What President Jonathan did, moved the country away from the precipice,” it said. “The country’s political instability, which was in red before the elections, was graciously filled to stability.”