Yoruba leaders have rejected the purported endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan for second term by some leaders of Afenifere, the Southwest's socio-political organisation.
The leaders, who converged on the Parliament Building, Oyo State Secretariat, Ibadan, yesterday to present the common aspirations of the Yoruba nation for the future, also condemned Monday's violence perpetrated by Oodua Peoples' Congress (OPC) in Lagos.
A faction of the Afenifere, a forthnight ago, met in Akure, the Ondo State capital, to endorse Dr. Jonathan for a second term, saying he plans to restructure the country through his convocation of a national conference. Critics of this point of view insist that all Yoruba demands at the conference were turned down.
In a tacit rejection of the endorsement, Yoruba Assembly Convener Gen. Alani Akinrinade, a one-time Chief of Defence Staff, in his welcome address, enumerated the qualities of the leadership the Yoruba desired.
He said: "We, the Yoruba are too sophisticated to follow one leader or adopt one political belief. What is required of us is to share a common developmental aspiration and values much more than what obtains now in the present Nigeria.
"We cannot afford a leadership that is absent of developmental foresight, that lacks innovative thinking and is not capable of producing the right responses and answers to the challenges of multi ethnic and multi-cultural politics in the country.
"The absence of imaginative leadership in Nigeria in developing the right responses to the Boko Haram insurgency and its terrorist plan to decimate the nation is one we must collectively confront.
"For us Yoruba people, a Nigerian leader must be ready to make the necessary sacrifies and imbibe core value-laden attributes. The national leader that Yoruba people want and would support should subscribe to a body of beliefs based on our perennial and tested values of honour, dignity, integrity, industry, patriotism, which are encoded in the concept of Omoluabi.
"The leadership the Yoruba want should be the body of men and women who are believers and are ready to live according to the tenets of Omoluabi and work for its continuous propagation and effectiveness. It is this embodiment of values that should guide us in the process of who we vote for in the 2015 general elections, not corrupted endorsements.
"To achieve our demands, I call on all Yoruba people to ensure that we use our votes wisely during this 2015 general elections by voting for those who make good their promises and vote out those who falter. We must take this once-in-four-years opportunity and use our votes to successfully empower or reject individuals based on their performance, principles, values, developmental aspirations and good character."
On the OPC protest in Lagos, Gen. Akinrinade said: "The ugly Lagos example of Monday 16 March 2015 appeared an open threat to our space, a society that is naturally and cultural embracing whose receptive nature is now being abused. It was a further demonstration of a sponsored and organized violence with the intent and potential to attack and pollute our peoples' values and democratic existence. This trend will continue, unless every federating unit is opportune to achieve its highest potential within the Nigerian nation without hindrance."
Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola said any Yoruba man who carries a gun to kill his fellow Yoruba is a bastard, because the Yoruba people signed an agreement on 23rd September 1896 not to fight each other anymore.
"We should counsel our youth against violence and we should tell our leaders who are collecting money from desperate politicians to have a re-think because whatever bribe offered them will be exhausted one day."
Aregbesola added: "I don't know why any reasonable Yoruba leader will ask us to vote for an inept and an incompetent government that has failed to rescue over 200 girls that were abducted almost a year ago."
Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi regretted that the Jonathan administration had relegated Yoruba to the background. He said of the first 50 positions in the country, Yoruba occupy only two.
Ajimobi said now is the time for us to vote in a government that will protect our interest.
The vice presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, thanked the Yoruba and Nigerians for enduring bad government in the past 16 years.
Osinbajo said: Those in government also know that all is not well with the country and the people they govern.
He urged Nigerians, particularly unemployed youths, to be resilient because there will be change on March 28.
Afenifere deputy leader Senator Ayo Fasanmi advised Nigerians, particularly the Yoruba, to reject money being offered by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to entice them to vote for the party. He wondered why a government whose tenure would terminate in two months was still appointing ministers.
Former Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi said true federalism and devolution of power were given priority in the APC manifesto. He advised the Yoruba to always stand up to fight for their rights.
Fayemi said: "We should not turn ourselves into slaves or beggars all in the name of survival. The Yoruba are the leading light of the country; we should not relegate ourselves to renegades."
Former Osun State Governor Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola advised the Yoruba to always be their brothers' keepers. He said our problem is rooted in political differences. We should not allow politics to divide us, he advised.
Leader of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) Hon Wale Oshun said the Yoruba had always been in the forefront of the struggle for true federalism and devolution of power.
The Secretary-General of the Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF), Senator Tony Adefuye, said the Yoruba leaders promoting Jonathan are not protecting the interest of the race.
According to Adefuye, the YUF, made up of Afenifere and others visited Jonathan twice on the marginalisation of Yoruba in appointments to federal positions. Jonathan never did anything to correct the anomalies, he said, adding: "what is the basis for endorsing him?".
Sen. Olabiyi Durojaiye advised the Yoruba to vote for the presidential candidate who would serve their interest.