The National Financial Secretary of Afenifere and Fourth Republic lawmaker, Oladipo Olaitan, has said that it would be unfair to say the Yoruba people joined the Hausas to fight Igbos during the civil war.
While insisting that the Yorubas have always stood behind the Igbos, Olaitan told Vanguard that Afenifere had taken the stand to leave with Igbios if the north forced them out of Nigeria.
Speaking about the call from Arewa Youths that the Igbos should quit the North from 1st of October, he said “Afenifere told them that if you ask the Igbo to leave, you are asking us to leave.”
Reminded that the Yoruba joined the North to fight the Igbo in the civil war, he said, “That is very unfair. We did not join the Hausa to fight the Igbo.
“What happened was this, when Ojukwu decided to leave, Awolowo went to Ojukwu, took all the risk and said ‘my brother don’t do this, let’s stay in this country and restructure it.
“What they may be doing to you may not be fair, it is not that we are happy about it ourselves, but let’s stay in there and sort it out.
“That is how the question of Aburi came about. So we now went to Aburi to try and sort it out.
“The soldiers of East origin would go to the East, soldiers of Western origin would go to the West, and soldiers of Northern origin would go to the North. We came back.
“It was Gowon who reneged. When Gowon reneged, Awolowo again went and met Ojukwu and said, we don’t need to fight a war, but Ojukwu said his mind was made up.
“At first, Awolowo played this card and said, (to Gowon) look, if you by act of omission or commission you make Ojukwu to leave, then we will leave.
“What he was saying was that if you force them out, you treat them as low people, then we will say you are saying it to us as well. This thing has to be mutually agreed.
“Till today we don’t consider the Igbo wanting to leave as treasonable because that is the essence of democracy – self determination.
“Ojukwu has the right to self-determination.
“We did not join the North; we were in Nigeria.
“You see, this amalgamation, we were nations brought together, and you cannot force us to be together. We can talk about it to stay together, but you cannot force us to stay together. We hold that as sacrosanct.
“If the Igbo decide to leave as they are saying and we are persuading them not to, and I am a member of the Southern Leaders Forum, and our decision is that we must try and salvage this nation but on the basis of justice and fair play.”