The Afenifere group has blasted a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ahmadu Ali, for denigrating Yorubas. In a statement signed by its publicity secretary, Yinka Odumakin, the group drew attention to a newspaper report in which Ali said, “…The Yoruba people who are totally ungrateful kind of people in this country… the Yoruba are another character.”
It said that a remark of that nature against a whole people is totally unbecoming of a man who is expected to be cultured, coming as he does from Igala kingdom, which has centuries of civilization behind it. Afenifere said it would ordinarily have ignored Ali’s vituperations but for the facts that given his profile as a former chairman of the ruling party and a failed aspirant to the chairmanship of its Board of Trustees, the unwary may be tempted to assume that the words he spoke came from a wise man who is highly informed; and that he has touched on a deep cultural value of the Yoruba people on the subject of appreciation.
“The Yoruba people value an appreciative spirit to the point of criminalizing an ungrateful person in the saying “eni ti a se lore ti ko dupe, bi olosa ko ni leru lo ni” (an ingrate person is not different from a thief),” the statement said. “They also link continuous blessings to appreciation of past ones “bi omode ba dupe ore ana, a ri mi gba” (someone who appreciates past blessings would attract new ones).” On this basis, Afenifere asserted, it is crystal clear that Ali lacks lessons to teach the Yoruba in the art of gratitude and his uncouth remark only portrays him as ill-mannered and foul-mouthed.
"For Ali and those who think like him, Yoruba don’t venerate mere positions but rather leadership through service to the community. This explains why the Yoruba adore Awolowo who contested the highest office in the land three times and lost and resent Ali’s hero who occupied the same office three times!” "The difference is that as Premier of Western Region, Awo used the resources of the region to banish ignorance through free education, eliminated diseases through free health, introduced television culture to the Yoruba even before France, made Yoruba to aim for the sky by building the 25-storey Cocoa House in Ibadan, among other imperishable.” The statement noted that in contrast, the years Obasanjo spent as leader of Nigeria institutionalized corruption which deepened poverty for all Nigerians including the Yoruba.
“The poverty index in Nigeria was 45% in 1999 and jumped to 67% in 2007 in spite of unprecedented oil earnings in the same period,” the statement said. “The culture of begging that was alien in Yorubaland became pronounced under the leadership of the man Ali wants Yoruba to worship. “In all the 11 years Ali’s god spent as Nigerian’s President, Yoruba can point to nothing in their region that rivals the least of Awo’s achievements. That is why they have no gratitude for such a man positioned to give quality leadership to his country but left it worse that he met it because of personal failings.”
Afenifere called on Ali to feel free to build a shrine for his god in his Igala kingdom but that he would never be the one to choose a hero for the Yoruba. “And talking of gratitude is there anything the Yoruba owe Ahmadu Ali himself? They remain “grateful” to him in memory of Akintunde Ojo and other promising students who were murdered in cold blood during “Ali Must Go” crisis of 1978, when Ali was Obasanjo’s Education Minister,” the group said.