Oodua Peoples Congress,(OPC), the Nigerian South-West social–political militia group re-emerged last week to fire a warning that it was alive and well and that it was ready to unleash its venom in the event of any attack from any terrorist group across the nation.
The group implied that it has only been giving peace a chance by keeping quiet and retreating ever since its emergence just after the tribe was denied presidential chance in 1993, claiming the love for Nigeria and its utmost survival had topped its dreamed priority.
The re-emergence last Thursday which had been applauded by all Yorubas across the world was only to tell the world that, the South-West people are no cowards.
The group said it was ready to defend its own if the security of the peole and of the land are trampled on.
Members of the militia group were seen walking through Lagos streets on Thursday, firing weapons into the air as police and civilians alike were made to be aware.
It wasn’t actually a demonstration against any injustice, or neither was the group in protest, constituting a threat to the Federal government.
Rather, it was only doing the obvious, registering to the world that, as a peace-loving race which has endured many deprivation and psychological humiliation in many years of Nigeria’s history would not condone any act terrorism, which may constitute serious dangers of safety and insecurity to its people, its land and its pride as a peace loving people.
In strong messages that was sent to the world about its preparedness to protect its own, the congress re-echoed former Oyo State governor, Chief Bola Ige’s message that the Yorubas are never a shy race, that would shield from its responsibility of protecting its people.
As war messages echoed in the mid-nineties from one region of the country threatening war against the region, Bola Ige warned that the Yorubas are never known to engage in a war and lose such war. Chief Ige reminded the war mongers then against verbal terrorism urging them to go back to history.
According to the recent reports: The armed militia marched unstopped through Nigeria’s largest city, firing shotguns and rifles in the air in what they called a protest against a radical Muslim sect responsible for killings across the country.
“The demonstration Thursday by members of the Oodua People’s Congress highlighted the growing sense of insecurity and widening distrust among Nigeria’s more than 160 million people and its major ethnic groups” opined Associated Press in a report. Men armed with shotguns, rifles and machetes AP said freely streamed the streets of Lagos at the glare of police, while passers-by shouted that their region of Nigeria should be protected rather than the country as a whole.
“We don’t want them to fight here in our Lagos because Lagos is for everybody, not for Yorubas alone, but for everybody,” said Chief Orebiyi Ebenezer, a militia leader said addding: “We need peace here in Lagos.”
The Oodua People’s Congress is a militia made up of Nigeria’s Yoruba ethnic group, which dominates the country’s southwest. The party takes its name from Oduduwa, the ancestor of the Yoruba race, and formed after military ruler Ibrahim Babangida annulled a presidential election won by Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola in 1993.
The group evolved into a quasi-political organization and likely receives the implicit support of major prominent politicians in the region, with its members supported and loved by the populace as the security guard for the region.
OPC, assessing Nigeria’s current security situation and the activities of Boko Haram and Nigeria South –South or Niger Delta’s militia group called MEND, wants to tell the world that the dreaded group remains alive, active and very much action ready.
The group was said to have solicited for support from of elders of reason recently at a gathering of Yoruba stakeholders.
They charged leaders of the Yoruba race to give the kind of support enjoyed by Niger Delta militants and Boko Haram to the OPC as a defending force for the security of the region.
They were said to have requested for both moral and financial backing from Yoruba stakeholders.
“Do you think that those Niger Delta militants have no backing of their elders? They are not doing all that they are doing alone. Some citizens of their states are supporting them financially and equipping them.
“The same thing is happening with this Boko Haram”.
“They are being funded by some people. They should stay where they are and cause their problems in their domain. If they attempt to come here to wreck havoc, we will match them power for power.
But we are appealing to Yoruba leaders to come to the aid of OPC. If we are well equipped, we can do and undo.
“Remember when the OPC was in charge when denied the Yoruba rights and with crime abound in some areas,, did you hear anything like armed robbers in Lagos. Even in Ogun State, when the vehicle of former President Obasanjo was stolen, we were the one, OPC members, who went outside the country to retrieve it for him. It is after the OPC withdrew that you now have other forms of anarchy especially robbery everywhere,” one of the leaders of the OPC was quoted to have said.
The group, though receiving negative publicity for its voracity in dealing with violent matters due to its gun totting and killer stance and posture may have had a valid reason, feeling its region had been threatened from regional crisis.
As an observer put it on Monday” The best form of defence is to attack but in the case of OPC, it is a matter of sending across a warning shot that we are up to any task of attack from either Boko Haram or any of its likely organisation. We cannot wait till we are attacked and humiliated before rallying action. We are now ready but want local and international support”.
Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), have said they are all out to protect their region from the terrorist sect responsible for hundreds of killings in Nigeria’s north this year.