Nigerian leaders since gaining independence in 1960 are “enemies of our people”, radical lawyer, Femi Falana, has said, praising, however, pre-colonial traditional rulers for love towards their subjects.
Mr. Falana spoke at a symposium held to mark the 43rd birthday anniversary of the Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi, at the Oduduwa Hall of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, on Tuesday.
The theme of the symposium was ‘Taking Nigeria and Africa to Greater Heights: The Place of the Youth’.
“The leaders we’ve had since 1960 have been the enemies of our people,” said Mr. Falana, OAU alumnus and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, well known for radical political views.
He argued that the pre-colonial traditional rulers in Yorubaland and those in other parts did not willingly agree to slavery and colonialism; rather, they submitted to greater force and manipulation, after resistance.
He said: “Rather than what you have been taught in your history classes, the traditional rulers in the South West agreed to neither slavery or imperialism. Some of them like King Jaja of Opobo were exiled and some were killed.
“Even the annexation document that was said to have been signed by King Dosunmu of Lagos and Queen Victoria had an element of illegality. How could someone who did not understand English, sign a document written in English?”
He then urged urged the youth to “Shove aside the saying that ‘youths are the leaders of tomorrow’. Let them know that you are to start leading today.”
Speaking further, Mr. Falana lauded the efforts of the celebrant, the Ooni, at strengthening unity and “restoring peace to the Yoruba kingdom, Nigeria and Africa as a whole.”
Describing the Ooni as “cosmopolitan Oba”, he appreciated the impact of the king’s reign in the development of the youth, empowerment programmes, philanthropy and job creation.
The ceremony was graced by royal fathers and public office holders, including the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode, represented by an adviser Kehinde Bamigbetan; Olaoye Tomori, the Deputy Governor of Osun state, representing the Governor; and Eyitope Ogunbodede, the Vice chancellor of the university, among many others.
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