84-year-old academic, historian and writer, Professor Banji Akintoye, has emerged the fourth leader of the Yoruba nation, a honour conferred on him by the Assembly of All Yoruba Groups Worldwide.
His three predecessors in that position were the former Premier of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo; former governor of Ondo State, Pa Adekunle Ajasin; and former leader of Pan Yoruba socio-cultural and political organisation, Pa Abraham Adesanya.
Delegates from at least 48 Yoruba organisations across the world participated in the meeting. Nominations of notable Yoruba leaders were made at the meeting to fill the position, but Akintoye had the support of the overwhelming majority to emerge as the new Yoruba leader.
Akintoye, who served in the Nigerian Senate from 1979 to 1983 during the Second Republic, emerged the fourth leader at a meeting organised by Assembly of All Yoruba Groups Worldwide, held at Gloryview Hotel, in Bodija, Ibadan, on Thursday.
The Baale of Ekotedo, Ibadan, Elder Taiye Ayorinde, who chaired the meeting, said that since the death of Pa Adesanya on April 27, 2008, the office had remained vacant, with the Yoruba nation becoming disunited, including its traditional rulers, because there was no leader to chart a new direction for the people.
According to Ayorinde, he had gotten in touch with Afenifere leader Pa Ayo Adebajo to take up the leadership, but that Adebajo had refused the honour due to his advanced age.
Chief convener of the meeting Victor Taiwo described the choice of Akintoye as phase one of the assignment, adding that phase two would feature an official investiture of the leader via an elaborate ceremony that would involve all the governors in the South West, monarchs, political office holders, the Yoruba in the Diaspora, organisations and members of the public, where a sceptre of office would be presented to the new leader.
He stated that setting up of an institutionalised secretariat, which would coordinate and articulate the various issues of concern to Yoruba, would constitute the third phase of the Yoruba unity project.
“From this point, we are good to go in tackling and resolving all the multifarious challenges on the ground under a single, veritable leadership, and coordination among the people of Yoruba race,” Taiwo disclosed.