The President of Yoruba World Congress, Emeritus Prof. Banji Akintoye, has revealed that that former Premier of the old Western Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, made him aware in 1984 that Yoruba and Igbo people must form a close association and work together to rid of slavery.
According to Prof. Banji Akintoye, the colonial British government sought to pitch the Igbo and the Yoruba as an enemy of one another because these were the two most powerful people in Nigeria.
Prof Akintoye said: “Dele Ogun has a book ‘A Fatherless People,’ and there is a small account of it (that) Zik returning from America in 1932 with highly grown Nigerians of past pan-Africanism, the Black man around the world and so on.
“But, he was vulnerable. He was a poor person and he wasn’t getting the kind of help he deserved. He had applied for jobs at many organizations and agencies in Nigeria, and none had given him a job.
“And when he arrived from London on his way back home, that vulnerability put him in the hands of the colonial authorities. Basically, the British respected the Yoruba, but they didn’t particularly like the kind of Black man the Yoruba were. They didn’t like it, because, by the time they came, the Yoruba were fairly highly educated.
“They had been producing graduates from the mass years of the 1850s and by the time the British began to come into the Yoruba land in the 1880s and 1890s, there were already very many Yoruba graduates in every area of life.
“And when the British finally became the rulers of Nigeria (I’m jumping over a whole lot of things), they didn’t fancy the Yoruba at all. They might be friends with the individual Yoruba people that were educated, who were their friends mostly. But they feared that Yoruba were going to make the profits of colonialism difficult to achieve in Nigeria.
“So, the British didn’t particularly like the Yoruba such that they needed to subdue the interest and influence of the Yoruba people in Nigeria. And according to the account in the book that I have quoted, ‘A Fatherless People’, Mongrel Peller, who was a scholar of the colonial establishment, got hold of Nnamdi Azikwe and took him to meetings with the British colonialists in London.
And finally arranged a meeting between him and a team of people in the colonial office, and what seemed to have happened in those meetings was that the British wanted to construct the Igbo and the Yoruba as an enemy of one another because these were the two most powerful people in Nigeria,” .