Goke Omisore was the founding spirit of the Voice Of Reason.
He was looking forward to this day, his 70th birthday, when he was called to the great beyond a few months ago.
GOKE was full of life, and for him, life had a purpose. That purpose, in the twilight of his life, was to see his Yoruba race, and Nigeria at large, cut free of the physical and mental shackles that held them down, and rise to take their rightful place in the world.
His passion, especially for Yorubaland, was infectious. He did not have all the answers, but he clearly discerned, like every one of us, that something was wrong with Nigeria that needed to be put right. The events that we have all witnessed since his death, culminating in the embarrassing hitch in the electoral process that we witnessed last weekend, are enough to convince even the most naive among us that we are indeed in a profound crisis as a nation and as a people. All hands must be on deck if we are to dig ourselves out of the deep hole we are in.
Goke took the initiative of corralling together the ‘Voice Of Reason’, for the purpose of deploying all their accumulated knowledge and experience to chart a course for the human and material development in their homeland.
VOR came early to the conclusion that it could no longer be business as usual, that the Yoruba and others welded together in the Nigeria project, could not continue to do the same thing over and over, expecting different results. The truth in that conclusion, hopefully, is now clear to the majority of our people, given the ongoing events in our land, as well as the dramatic events of our recent past.
Our nationhood cannot continue to be an undignified and unfulfilling struggle by different peoples to outdo one another for control of an overbearing and overweening ‘centre’. Whereas, eople have to look more to their own local resourcefulness and make that the basis of a new definition and practicalisation of nationhood. We must look back to the commanding heights of our history to guide us forward. An arrangement that enabled Western Region, from Ibadan, to institute free education and to build the first television station in Africa, not through ‘Federal might’, but through its local enterprise and leadership vision, was an expression of that true federalism that has unfortunately been eroded to the point of extinction by the ‘Unitary’ experience of the past half century in our national life. To use the evidence of the recent past to advance the argument from the opposite pole, the masses in those parts of the nation that have been most ‘successful’ in ‘controlling’ ‘Federal might’ have today the lowest scores on the Human Development Index. No ethnic group has been served by ‘federal might’ in the way it is being practised in Nigeria but a few individuals.
VOR is more convinced now than ever before, over and above the distractions of the ongoing bad-tempered struggle by various interest groups to seize political control of the executive and legislature at various levels in the country, that a Restructuring of the polity must remain our paramount objective as a group. We intend to keep our focus unwaveringly on it. We insist that the responsibility and resources for development must be handed back to the federating units, as close as possible to how they were originally conceived in the Nigerian union. We are doing a lot to ensure the success of our cause. We have gone as far as publishing a draft constitution to drive the discussion and provide a detailed picture of what a restructured nation and a structured Yorubaland should look like.
Much of the inspiration of VOR has been derived from the infectious energy and total commitment by Goke Omisore, the man we are honouring today. We are aware that the greatest honour we can do to his memory, and the one he would most appreciate, is to stay the cause until victory is won. Our ultimate objective, as friends and comrades at home and abroad in VOR, with diverse callings and experiences, is the attainment of peace, prosperity and a conducive climate for the full expression of the creative genius of the Yoruba and other nationalities in Nigeria, good governance and a life free of security threats from kidnappers, sundry miscreants, and rampaging local and foreign hoodlums posing as herdsmen.
May the soul of Goke Omisore continue to rest in peace ,and may his dreams for his land and his people be attained in our lifetime.