It’s no longer news that the patriarch of the Yoruba self-determination movement and leader of its umbrella organization, Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, with the ultimate aim of achieving an independent Yoruba Nation, Professor Banji Akintoye has resigned from his position as the leader of the group. What is still a subject of speculation is the real reason the highly committed Yoruba Nation activist suddenly stepped down.
Though a statement released on Thursday by the group’s General Secretary, Tunde Amusat, said the professor of history and senator in the Second Republic resigned on health grounds, many believe the decision was not unconnected with the lingering crisis within the organisation.
According to the statement, Prof. Akintoye decided to hand the baton of leadership to his former Deputy, Prof. Wale Adeniran as a result of “old age and a weakened body system.”
Amusat said the worldwide congress of Ilana Omo Oodua held on December 17th, 2022 accepted Akintoye’s resignation and affirmed Adeniran, a retired Assistant Professor of African Studies and the pioneer Commissioner for Education in Osun State, as the new leader of the organisation.
He added that the proposed amendment to the constitution affirming Adeniran’s position as Chairman will be tabled at the next worldwide congress before the end of this year for ratification by registered members.
The statement also stated that “Akintoye extolled the principled virtues of Adeniran, commending him for his consistent patience against all forms of blackmail, slanders and defamatory affirmations which had been unleashed against him in the past by those he (Akintoye) described as disgruntled elements.”
However, a letter written by Akintoye to the new leader of the organization, Prof. Wale Adeniran, dwells significantly on the infighting within the group. This lends credence to the speculation that the Yoruba leader’s decision to quit might not be unconnected with the unabated crisis.
The letter reads in full as follows,
“Dear Wale, I write this letter to you in your position as Chairman of Ilana Omo Oduduwa to congratulate you and the newly elected Executive Council of Ilana.
“I also hereby inform Ilana through you of my departure from further responsibilities in Ilana. I urge you and all others not to think that this step is a consequence of recent difficulties in Ilana. As you know better than any other person, I have been seeking for over a year now to take my leave from Ilana because combining the duties of Ilana with the duties of the greatly elevated demands of the Self-determination Struggle has been too heavy for me at my age. I am greatly honored that you as the closest person to me in Ilana, most Ilana members, and all Ilana committees, have for months been urging me not to leave Ilana because, according to you all, Ilana is my special ‘baby’ in the whole Self-determination Struggle. But you would remember that in a special meeting of leaders of the Self-determination struggle from all over the world about a month ago, you and all the other meeting participants agreed graciously that I should give up my duties in Ilana because of my heavy accumulation of duties to the higher levels of the whole struggle.
“As for our current difficulties in Ilana, I am sure you would testify that I am not leaving because of them, and that, in general, even the greatest of difficulties never make me quit. I am imbued with God-given confidence that I can bear all things and solve the most tortuous complications among men, because God in His mercy has given me the gift of a heart that loves all persons in all situations.
“Still, I must ask you to forgive me for leaving Ilana to you in its current condition. I had wanted to leave Ilana immediately after the special meeting of worldwide leaders about a month ago, but I decided to help you to iron out some of the ongoing difficulties before leaving. Unfortunately, things have not improved as quickly as I expected, and you now have to face a situation in which some of our extremists are still compounding the difficulties. However, I have much confidence in you – including confidence that you will find ways to steer our Ilana back to the path of compromise, unity and strength.
“Finally, I must congratulate and thank you for your very high quality of leadership in this struggle for our embattled nation. I must congratulate and thank you, particularly for your bearing with strength and fortitude the frequent vilifications and false accusations. We who have stepped out bravely to liberate our Yoruba nation and to save it from being destroyed by the destructive forces of Nigeria are going through a lot of fire from our own people. No doubt, we shall soon be hearing from some habitual detractors that it was you who disloyally plotted against me and made me to leave Ilana, but we must not let such talk bother us in any way. By the grace of God, we shall win this war and liberate our Yoruba nation, and thereby giving our nation the freedom it desires to develop into a greatly respected modern country in the world.
“Of course, you know that I shall always be available to you – to you personally as a friend and close associate in the higher levels of the Self-determination Struggle, and to Ilana as Patron and Mentor in the way that I am Patron and Mentor to other Self-determination Organizations.
“I thank God for His leadership qualities in you and thank you for giving yourself so unstintingly to our struggle for our nation. Accept my best wishes for you and your family.”