Second Republic member of the Senate and historian, Prof. Banji Akintoye, on Thursday formally accepted the position of Yoruba leader.
He promised to work toward unity of all groups and politicians for the unity of Southwest.
Speaking at Lagos Airport Hotel in Ikeja, during a news conference attended by the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) chieftain, Dr. Amos Akingba and veteran journalist, Chief Tola Adeniyi, among others, Prof. Akintoye said he would commit himself to continuing as resolutely non-partisan as he has been for decades toward the enhanced progress, prosperity and the right destiny for the Yoruba nation.
Akintoye was elected as Yoruba leader on August 22 by many Yoruba organisations that met in Ibadan.
Prof. Akintoye said he was humbled that he was so highly regarded as the new Yoruba leader by those who assembled at the Ibadan meeting, although he was not present and was not party to their meeting.
“I hereby humbly respond yes to your call, fully and gratefully confident that you all will rise and work dedicatedly and faithfully with me in all efforts to advance the best prospects, the best achievements and the right destiny for Yoruba nation,” he said.
With his acceptance, the Yoruba now have a leader to succeed Senator Abraham Adesanya, who was the last elected Yoruba leader. Since his demise, the Yoruba have never had a unifying leader.
The new Yoruba leader faulted the claims in some quarters that Yoruba leader has never emerged through election, noting that the late sage and former Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and former Afenifere leader, Senator Abraham Adesanya, were both elected at different times by people at a specific meeting as Yoruba leaders during their life.
The Yoruba leader assured all Yoruba at home and in the diaspora that he and those who will work with him will in all things, uphold and showcase the Awolowo legacy as the noblest and proudest modern legacy of the Yoruba nation.
“We commit ourselves to relating and interacting positively without discrimination with the Yoruba politician, the elected Yoruba public official and professional bureaucrat at every level of government in Nigeria, the governments of all Yoruba states and the governments of our local government areas, all to the end that they will all consciously employ their positions, power and influence for uplifting, uniting, empowering and enriching our Yoruba nation.
“Our whole perception of the leadership of today’s Yoruba nation shall be that it does not interfere with partisan politics and politicians but that it encourages our whole nation and its leading citizens to strive bravely for excellence, prosperity and power, and towards the true national destiny of our nation,” the Yoruba leader said.