The Igbo/Yoruba Unity event scheduled for Enugu, the Enugu State capital today, has been described as an event planned to reignite the brotherly relationship between the Igbo nation of the South East and the Yoruba nation of the South West, with the aim of looking back at history to reawaken what both nations have in common.
Making this clarification in a phone chat with the Daily Times, the head of the Publicity team of the organising committee of the event, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said that the Igbo and Yoruba people have many things in common from years back, but that when the colonial masters came they tried to drive a wedge between the two brothers to ensure that they do not speak with one voice, knowing that when they do it could pose a big problem for them.
He said however that this event is a way of trying to retrace their steps and mend fences with the aim of returning the two peoples to their original brotherly relationship before the advent of the colonial masters.
He said, “There are many things that will tell you that the Igbo and Yoruba have a common ancestry, from the similarity in some of the names and dressing and culture generally. From history it is clear that these two peoples had many things in common before the colonial masters came.
“But, the colonial master quickly realised that if you allow the Igbos and the Yorubas to continue to be united, with their level of education and sophistication, it was going to be difficult to order them around, so, the first thing they did was to drive a wedge between them and make sure that they do not see eye to eye, but we have discovered that now and are determined to ensure that we retrace the steps of our history.”
According to him the event which is being put together by the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere is anchoring on the brotherly relationship depicted by the loyalty and bravery, ‘friendship beyond brotherhood’ as displayed that existed between the former Military Head of State, Gen. JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi and the former Military governor of Old Western Region, Brig. Gen. Adekunle Fajuyi in their last moments on earth.
While dismissing insinuations that the meeting may have any political undertone, as a way of uniting the South towards withstanding Northern political agenda, Odumakin said, there was nothing like that as the meeting was strictly a way of shaking hands across the Niger between the Yoruba nation and Igbo nation and help bring back memories of a beautiful past between the peoples of the regions.
“This is not a gang up against anybody; we are only trying to rekindle the relationship that existed between the Yoruba and the Igbo as exemplified by the bravery and willingness to pay the supreme price as exhibited by Gen. JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi and Brig. Gen. AdekunlFajuyi, despite their tribal differences, and go back to tracing the root of our comeliness,” he said.
He said the South East event which is a follow up to the Southern Leaders conference held in Ibadan last year which was attended by a high powered delegation of Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other Southern leaders will continue, across the regions, as leaders of both tribes hope to continue to strengthen the bond that holds the tribes together and also build on that towards teaching the younger generation the need to work together as brothers and see themselves as such.
According to him, at the end of the event which will have representatives of both Aguiyi-Ironsi and Fajuyi family in attendance, there will be a communiqué on the common grounds adopted by both nations.