Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said no individual can be regarded as the leader of the Yoruba. He stated this in his book, titled, “My Watch: Political and Public Affairs,” where he addressed what he called his Nigerianness and Yorubanness.
In chapter 31, titled: Campaigns and Elections, Obasanjo said Nigeria did not need tribal barons as leaders, stressing that there was nothing like Yoruba leadership in Yoruba land.
The ex-President said, “Just as there was no single Oba having sovereignty over the whole of Yorubaland, there was no individual as leader of Yorubas in Yorubaland. As it was then, it remains till now.”
He noted that even among the Yoruba obas “there is equality, but mutual respect.”
Backing his claim with a saying, “no crown is subordinate to another,” the former President said cities and areas were normally of different sizes.
He recalled that in the past, Obas never saw one another, but sent messages through emissaries. It was the colonialists that made Obas see face-to-face and went further to rank Yoruba traditional rulers.
Obasanjo noted that in the North, majority of Emirs accepted Sultan of Sokoto as direct descendant of Usman Dan Fodio. The Sultan was accepted as the leader among Hausa/Fulani traditional rulers.
“The Yorubas did not have such a clear-cut and accepted hierarchy. Every Oba maintains sovereignty over his domain,” Obasanjo stressed.
Obasanjo said after he successfully ended the Civil War, some people began to extol his ‘Yorubanness’.“I did not encourage this. ‘My Yorubaness’ and ‘my Nigerianness’ must go pari passu, and one must not stand in the way of the other,” he stated.