Ahead of 2023 general elections, no fewer than 120 pan-Yoruba groups, community-based and civil society associations have scheduled a meeting for Lagos 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), among others made the disclosure on Wednesday in a statement on Wednesday and signed by its General Secretary, Mr. Popoola Ajayi.
Others, according to the statement, include: 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), and others.
Ajayi said the 2-day meeting scheduled for next week will be the largest gathering of pan Yoruba groups in recent times.
According to him, the 2-day parley will feature leaders of coalition members gathering on the first day, where they will thoroughly debate the 2023 elections, while the second day is for the General Congress expected to draw close to 2000 delegates, adding that 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 its officials had toured the old Western Region meeting youth and women organisations, artisan groups, the aged, poor and rich and professionals, adding that the Lagos meeting would enable the groups to adopt an informed position on the 2023 Presidential election.
AYDM said across the South-West three tendencies had emerged, stating they included those clamouring for restructuring of the Federation; those calling for Yoruba self determination as the only option and those who hoped 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.
The coalition said the three positions represented the culture of diversity in Yoruba history and that it was the responsibility of each trend to convince the people based on meaningful and constructive engagement.
AYDM said it threw its support for self determination as entrenched in the United Nations charter, expressing the hope that the 2023 election would advance the campaign for people’s voices to be heard and respected in their clamour what what was best for the common good.
Ajayi said the conference themed: “2023: Which Way for Yoruba People and the Old Western Region?” has Dr Adegoke and Prof. Lucky Akaruese as Guest Speakers.
“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,” the coalition said.