Yoruba Forum blasts Obasanjo as puppet of "Hausa-Fulani sponsors" for arresting OPC's leader, others

Special to USAfricaonline.com and NigeriaCentral.com

The effort by the government of retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (in pix) to solidify his personal acceptance and electoral value among his fellow Yorubas may be running into some snag with his challenge to maintain law and order in that part of Nigeria. This time, his government's arrest of the controversial leader of the militant Oodua People's Congress (OPC), Dr. Fredrick Faseun, has caused the New York-based Yoruba People's Forum to call "on civilized nations to condemn it in the strongest terms."

The Yoruba Forum classified "their seizure as political vendetta and a smokescreen designed to punish and silence vocal critics of General Obasanjo's extremely corrupt administration, and its Hausa-Fulani sponsors."

They argued that Faseun and other OPC members who were involved in the conflicts which led to the latest death in October of almost 100 Nigerians, mostly Hausas/northerners in Yorubaland and Ilorin, and later arrested "are political prisoners of the Obasanjo regime."

The statement sent to USAfricaonline.com and NigeriaCentral.com, was signed by Dipo Akinsiku and Banji Ayiloge. According to the organization, "charging Dr. Faseun, in particular, with murder, is designed to silence the Yoruba nationalist and prevent him from continuing to raise the consciousness of the people of Yorubaland."

The Forum argued that the October 2000 motion passed by the Nigeria Senate authorizing the declaration of state of emergency in Lagos is "sectional, and wholly inspired by the agents of Arewa Consultative Forum, a group of Northern former power brokers who have dedicated themselves to the destruction of Yoruba people."

Meanhwile, President Obasanjo who, spoke in Abuja on October 25, at a meeting with members of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) underlined his resolve to engage decisive actions on acts such as those which led to the arrest of Fasheun and others "so that such mindless violence does not repeat itself again." He added the violence in Lagos is being investigated and that all those found to be culpable "will face the full wrath of the law." The President repeated that the Oodua People's Congress (OPC), the group identified by Nigeria's local media and police as "responsible for the violence in Lagos," has been outlawed.
Should President Obasanjo enforce a state of emergency in Lagos, the politics of the new republic will take an interesting and complicated twist. First, for Obasanjo who has been doing a lot to endear himself to his own ethnic community - the area he had his least support and barely won the local ward votes in his own local government area during his election as president in 1998.

Second, it will send a strong message that he will fight for Nigeria's unity and against ethnic militancy and unbriddled violence no matter where it occurs. Although, on Obasanjo's government's orders, the community of Odi in Bayelsa State was dealt a massive blow, and major sections of the town sacked and levelled for earlier conflicts with the local police; in fact not as significant as the killings in Lagos and Kaduna's Sharia-related slaughter of Igbos, Christians and innocent northerners early this year.

To be sure, the last of the rumblings in Lagos, the squabble in the historic city of Ilorin where the OPC retreated from an earlier threat to install a "Yoruba Emir/Oba", and Obasanjo's tangle with the OPC and other Yoruba nationalists are yet to be heard and seen. Apparently, all politics are truly local.
(October 26, 2000)

Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of the Houston-based USAfricaonline.com, USAfrica The Newspaper, The Black Business Journal, BBJonline.com, and NigeriaCentral.com, is the recipient of the Journalism Excellence Award, 1997. He serves as an adviser to the Mayor of Houston on international business (Africa). Nwangwu is writing a book on the experiences of recent African immigrants in the U.S. He covered U.S President Bill Clinton's visit to parts of Africa, March-April, 1998, and the August 26-28, 2000 visit to Nigeria.

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