Friday 3 June 2022


Being a keynote address by Mrs. Sandra Popoola delivered at the Yoruba Nation Global Directorate Town Hall Meeting on the 28th May 2022 in London inn. response to the media campaign that the Yoruba needed no referendum before exiting Nigeria.

1. Introduction:

I salute the Directorate Director, Princess Adeola Atayero Olamijulo, other members of the cabinet of the Yoruba Nation Global Directorate, members of the Yoruba press here present at today’s meeting. I want to congratulate the Yoruba people for this rare feat. Consistency, reliability, responsibility and Omoluwabi are the values we could see at play in the organisation and operations of this functional body. I congratulate you for this.

Today, we are going to educate ourselves on the best route to Yoruba self-determination. This will make us to understand the basic issues in this struggle. It undermines our intelligence when we are led by mere sophistry, and we assume that just wishful thinking is enough for us to achieve self-determination. We should not endanger the lives of our people, women, girls, children and old people because we neglect to reflect and engage in critical thinking about this struggle.

2. Do we really want an independent Yoruba nation? I ask this question because there are lots of misinformation, outright academic lies and uncertain dynamics being thrown at the Yoruba public. These issues I hope to address in this keynote address. The question is: how does nations get their independence? What role does the United Nations play? Can a nation stand without the approval of the United Nations?

3. The United Nations Charter of 1948 and self determination 

The UN position on self-determination is not straight forward. It says you cannot disintegrate and in deserving cases it supports self-determination. But much of the work to get recognition as a nation is with the people who want independence. The larger part of achieving the self-determination is not by mere words of the mouth but by a clear vision and well outlined strategies. The UN position creates an ambiguity: ambiguity in the sense that it doesn’t want to destabilize an existing nation or its territorial integrity. This can only have support where the people are homogenous. Nigeria is not homogeneous. It has different nationalities. This point therefore works in favour of the Yoruba people who are noted for their homogeneity.

The ambiguity dissolves when a would-be nation successfully fulfils the conditions of nationhood. The position of the UN on secession or self-determination and any subsequent recognition is basically important since accession to the UN is considered by the international community as tantamount to near-universal recognition. This means that once the 5 major permanent members of the security council of the UN recognise your nation, then you can proclaim or announce your independence.

To become a nation and in fact a member of the United Nations, a state must be recognised by at least two-thirds of existing members of the UN after gaining approval of the 15 UN Security Council. This means that it has the recognition of the major world powers, i.e. the permanent members (consisting of China, France, Russia, UK and the US). This tells us that no nation can exist in isolation. You cannot form a nation without the support of the United Nations.

A major factor that makes UN sympathetic to self-determination struggle is whether a state has failed. Nigeria as a nation has failed within the parameters identified by the United nations. These parameters are failure of governance, corruption, failure of economic and social wellbeing, insecurity, etc. By these, the Yoruba, just like other ethnic nationalities have a Remedial Right to Self Determination. Nigerian government has lost the battle to secure its people, economically failed and all infrastructures gone comatose and as such the Yoruba people have the right to exercise their sovereignty.

4. The Montevideo Convention of 1938

For a people to become a nation, certain conditions must be met. These conditions are like Siamese twins, one cannot leave another. Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention states: ‘The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications:

a. a permanent population

b. a defined territory 

c. government, and 

d. capacity to enter into relations with the other states.

In view of these conditions and other necessary provisions of the conventions and laws, the Yoruba Nation Global Directorate was conceptualized to achieve the above conditions. We have an identifiable permanent population, and a defined territory. The YNGD was set up as a government in exile to achieve the remaining two of the conditions above. YNGD has been relating with some governments of the world and this is empowering the Yoruba people with the capacity to enter into relations with other nations.

This suggests that without fulfilling these conditions, Petition would not achieve anything for us. The idea being promoted that we do not need referendum will make mockery of all our efforts and put the Yoruba people`s struggle into a calculated jeopardy.  If petitions could give people their desired nation, Somaliland, which has even gained the recognition of the United Nations as de facto government, would have become a nation today. No nation declares itself without a standing army, parliament, economic councils, legislations etc. To do so is to jump on the way of a fast-moving train.

5. Taking examples from other nations: USSR and Czechoslovakia

Let me correct an impression. There are two ways to go about self-determation. Either by war or by peaceful means. Usually the host countries, for obvious reasons don’t take kindly to secession or self-determination. As a result, nations whose constitutions stipulated referendum often result to that provision as the last resort. Scotland, and Catalonia are good examples. Most nations go by way of referendum especially if their constitution say so.

We all heard it said that 

We do not need referendum. Russia and Czechoslovakia did not have any referendum when they went their ways. We are not going to hold any referendum. We will use our 5 million petitions. …Our people will match away from Nigeria…

I would like to debunk the view that there was no referendum in the USSR before the nationalities within that great nation went their different ways. There was indeed a referendum. The question that was put to the people was: 

Do you consider necessary the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equals sovereign republics in which the rights and freedom of an individual of any ethnicity will be fully guaranteed?

The turnout at the referendum was 80% and the referendum question was approved by nearly 80% of voters in all nine other republics that took part. It was the only and main referendum in the history of the Soviet Union. It led to the Soviet Union being dissolved on 26 December 1991. 

As for the dissolution of the Czechoslovakia, in 1992 both Czech and Slovak republics agreed to dissolve the union. And in September 1992 opinion poll showed that 37% Slovaks and 36% Czechs favoured dissolution. Both countries entered peaceful negotiation as opposed to violent break-up. 

On November 25, 1992 the national assembly passed Constitution Act No 542 which reflected the agreement to dissolve Czechoslovakia by 31 December 1992.

Let me remind us that the politicians in the USSR and Czech and Slovakia were politicians and statemen with the interest of their people at heart. They are not as selfish, self-opinionated, greedy, and self-seeking like the Nigerian politicians.

Coming nearer home is the Southern Sudan that became a member of the United Nations recently. The Constitution of Sudan does not have provision for referendum. However, because of consistent differences, the South Sudan and Sudan government in 2005 came together and signed an agreement, the Naivasha Agreement between the Khartoum central government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M). The agreement that led to the referendum was as a result of serious civil war by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. The question at the referendum was: whether the region should remain a part of Sudan or become independent?

I have been in-depth in this analysis to show that nowhere in the world an ordinary petition will ground an independence or self-determination. There must be a legal instrument that will state as such or an agreement that will lead to a referendum having been constitutionally engineered. Anything short of this is false and fraudulent.

6. The consequences of misinformation

So, what are the effects of misinformation being spread about the Yoruba using a petition to leave Nigeria?

a. We do not have any security force or ammunitions we could use if the federal government decides to attack the Yorubaland. We would endanger the lives of our people to adopt such a silly course. Most of us are abroad and even the leaders proposing this are not in Yoruba nation to lead the people.  

b. We risk a state of emergency being declared in all the Yoruba states and military administrators will be appointed to begin to rule us. the implications of this are multivarious. I wouldn’t want to imagine it.

7. Conclusion:

In conclusion, we have left much undone while a supposed Yoruba leader cum whatever title without coronation continue to engage in social media campaign. We have neglected the local people back home who will also vote to say yes to our independence. For me, this is a major project the media and those presently seeking for international passport for a nation that has not been legally formed should pursue. The Yoruba Nation Global Directorate has been making subtle contacts with other nations while also taking the issue of security headlong back home.

8. The Yoruba Nation Global Directorate has a case before the ECOWAS Court of Justice based on the Constitutional Force Majeure instigated by the NINAS proposal as declared on 6 December 2020. This case when decided has potential of directing the National Assembly to pave way for a referendum for the Yoruba people. Besides, the Yoruba Nation Global Directorate has also been joined to the lawsuit instituted by the Concerned Northern Groups (CNG) wherein they sought a court order to direct the National Assembly to make law that would allow the Southeast region to hold referendum and exit Nigeria. The Yoruba have been joined to this case. If the court grants the order, the Yoruba too will hold its referendum and exit Nigeria. And contrary to our ignorance and misinformation to the Yoruba people, the referendum will not be conducted and decided by the INEC, it will be a Yoruba affair through a legally constituted Referendum Commission and it will be supervised by members of the international community.

9. We should not be misled to think that the Yoruba can leave Nigeria without referendum. The other alternative as I have said is war which we are not prepared for because of its inappropriateness to our case.

10. I will encourage other organisations to also reflect on serious awareness campaign back home. Let our people go to the Yoruba villages, cities towns.  Let us educate them. Let the awareness be taken to their bedrooms, their sheds, their hamlets and their churches and mosques. Let this be discussed at Owambe parties. Encourage our musicians to sing songs about it. Once we do this, we need not fear that our people will say YES to the question of whether or not they want a separate republic for Yoruba nation. It will be a done deal.

11. But if we continue to deceive ourselves on the pages of social media, the future generations and indeed the current generations will not forgive the crop of leaders that refuse to see and learn from the history of others. 

12. Thank you. Oodua a gbe wa o. Ko ni gbe Odale. Emi ko ni da ile Yoruba. Iwo nko?

Mrs. Sandra Popoola


28th May 2022.

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