By Dapo Akinrefon
The Yoruba nation has been accepted as the 45th member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation, UNPO.
President of the Yoruba World Congress, YWC, Banji Akintoye, said this on Tuesday, noting that the latest development represented a very important step in the collective quest of Yoruba people to achieve the goal of dignity and self-determination.
UNPO, formed on February 11, 1991 in The Hague, Netherlands, is an international membership-based organisation established to empower the voices of unrepresented and marginalised peoples worldwide and to protect their fundamental human rights.
Members comprise indigenous peoples, minorities, unrecognised peoples or peoples of occupied territories.
Akintoye, in a statement, noted that the Yoruba-speaking nation membership was contained in a letter addressed to him through the YWC Coordinator for Europe by her Secretary-General, Ralph Bunche.
He said UNPO membership affords the Yoruba nation an opportunity to participate in advocacy training, worldwide cultural festivals, election monitoring/observation, and sports activities, among the unrepresented nations.
Akintoye said: “Some former members, such as Armenia, East Timor, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia and Palau have gained full independence and have joined the United Nations, UN, as full members.
“The peoples represented within the UNPO membership are all united by one shared condition: they are denied their equitable level of representation and voice in the institutions of the countries to which they currently belong and in international governance.
“As a consequence, their opportunity to participate on the national or international stage is limited and unfair, and they struggle against difficulties in their effort to realise their rights to civil and political participation and to control their own economic, social and cultural development.
“In many cases, they live under pressure of the worst forms of violence and repression, such as is being perpetrated by armed herdsmen and militias, as well as by terrorist Boko Haram, against many peoples of Nigeria, including our Yoruba nation.
“This violence and repression are being adroitly and surreptitiously supported by the government of Nigeria.
“In some cases, members of UNPO need serious help because they live in countries and under governments that actively resist their progress and destroy their achievements, as our Yoruba nation lives in Nigeria.
“The UNPO is able to address issues that often remain hidden because UNPO has the freedom to raise issues that others cannot raise due to political or funding constraints. Today, UNPO has more than 40 member-nations.”