Group criticises Akeredolu for ‘imposing’ Oodua anthem on minority
A segment of the Ijaw ethnic group in Ondo State has condemned the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, over the adoption of the Oodua anthem across secondary schools in the state.
The Arogbo Ijaw Patriots, a body of the Ijaw minority in Ondo State, in a statement to on Wednesday, also alleged the governor of imposing Yoruba anthem for the conduct of a promotion examination for senior civil servants with little or no consideration for the diversity of the people in the state.
The group’s complaint is coming exactly 20 days after Mr Akeredolu, in a memo signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Teaching Service Commission, Tolu Adeyemi, made the anthem compulsory to be sung in all secondary schools in Ondo State.
“It was absurd and rather disturbing that the Governor would make it compulsory for Oodua or ‘Ondo anthem’ (in Yoruba) to be sung in all secondary schools in the Ondo State where there are indigenous Ijaws,” the group’s Coordinator and Secretary, Fidelis Soriwei and Bibisa Kekemeke, said in the statement.
In their argument, the duo admitted Ijaw minority status in the state but opined that they do not deserve inclusion in such a step since they “speak their own language in consonance with their distinct ethnicity as an Ijaw minority and would like to keep that identity.”
The group added that while it is not opposed to agitations of whatever form, it will, however, resist any compulsion attempts to make them an assimilated Yoruba race.
“The leadership of the Ondo State Civil Service took further steps in the abuse of the law to ask people including Arogbo Ijaws to sing the anthem in a promotion interview at the Governor’s Office Civil Service Matters,” the group further alleged as it enjoined Mr Akeredolu to ensure fairness and respect the right of the minority ethnic group in the race.
The aboriginal status of the Ijaws in Nigeria extends through Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Edo, Akwa Ibom and Ondo States.
However, Arogbo Ijaw in Ondo State, until 2018, was without a king for 11 years due to the kingship crisis which was eventually resolved by Mr Akeredolu, a man now accused of infringement.
The Ondo State governor’s spokesperson, Olabode Olatunde, in a phone interview with on Wednesday afternoon, said the anthem in question is not an “Oodua Anthem” as presented by the group to the public.
“This issue in question was first raised in February and we have addressed it,” he said, also raising suspicion that the group in question were sponsored by some quarters to discredit and distract Mr Akeredolu.
Mr Olatunde dismissed any wrongdoing by his boss and denied the allegation of unfair treatment levelled against him by the Arogbo Ijaw minority group in the statement.“The intention of adopting the Ondo State Anthem is to promote the tradition and culture of the Yoruba race.
“This clarification is necessary in order to avoid misinterpretation, misconception and outright misunderstanding of the aim of the state government,” Mr Olatunde said in another dated March 5, in response to the issue.