- To Reduce Corruption, Promote Unity
From Bola Ogunlayi, Regional Editor, South West
Preemptive of the outcome of the Committee set up by the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria, APC, and the continuous agitation by some sections of the country over the restructuring of Nigeria, some notable Yoruba leaders and sociocultural organisations from the Eastern bloc recently converged in Ibadan, the political headquarters of South West insisting that the exercise would curb over concentration of power at the centre, reduce corruption and promote harmony and unity.
The gathering was coming on the heels of hot debates in favour or against restructuring of the country in line with the 2014 Confab Reports.
Although, the Yoruba people largely threw their weight to the emergence of President Mohammadu Buhari in 2015 and believe in using another strategy to press home their demands for improved condition of living.
One of the strategies is to assemble notable leaders of the race that cut across existing political parties and those from the East and South South for authentication purposes.
Another one is the need to have a position paper that will make the Federal Government reasoned along the line of proponents of restructuring the country in this time of our national development.
The facts remain that, politicians are already openly throwing their supports to aspirants in the next general elections and considered restructuring as an issue that will set the pace for Agenda in their Manifestos.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan who inaugurated the Confab was unable to implement its Report due to what his critics dubbed as political reason.
The clamour for restructuring was further intensified by the new song in its favour championed by the Independent People of Biafra, IPOB.
Quit notices and counter instructions enveloped the ethnic space of the country in a renewed bid to champion the cause of aggrieved regions. The new struggle has sharply divided Nigerians along ethnic lines.
The federal government has once rejected the call for restructuring on the ground that the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, are in bad taste calling for the same exercise they ought to have done when they were in power for 16 years.
It was the Federal Government belief that the PDP hurriedly packaged the Confab for reasons of winning the 2015 general elections.
While the issue continue to draw Nigerian’s attention, some leaders in Yorubaland assembled and held a Summit titled, “Restructuring Yoruba Agenda”.
Chairman of the Summit held at Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan,Are Afe Babalola (SAN), justified the need for the Summit in this words: “In the next 60 years when most of us sitting here today would have left the scene, some vocal leaders coming after us would ask, why kept silent? In Law, we would be adjudged guilty as accessories after the fact”.
The problem according to him was traceable to the infamous Berlin Conference, the abandonment of 1960 and 1966 Constitutions which were designed for gradual emergence of the artificial creation of 1885 into a nation and the mismanagement of the economy by the military.
Babalola maintained that the only change that can change the country and pave way for nationhood is the change that changes the structure of the project Nigeria.
The Summit Planning Committee headed by Dr Kunle Olajide explained that the gathering was to do honest review of Yoruba past and telescopic view of the future of Nigeria saying, the country potentials has not been fully realised after the Yorubas along with other national Patriots laboured to build the country from pre and post-independence.
“I want to see once again the pyramids of the North, the Cocoa Stores of old Western Region, unfortunately turned to worship centres, the Palm Produce revived in the East, the modern technology for the maximum utilisation of all and gas fully developed in the Niger-Delta Region”,Olajide set the pace for the Summit.
Governor Ayodele Fayose, Ekiti state chastised Yoruba leaders for being the Region’s problem that they suffer for being disunited.
His Osun and Oyo States counterparts, Rauf Aregbesola and Abiola Ajimobi supported going back to regional governments where every region will be able to develop its potentials.
Ondo, Ogun and Lagos governors, Rotimi Akeredolu, Ibikunle Amosu and Akinwumi Ambode respectively reasoned that meaningful Restructuring will result into serious empowerment of the nation’s populace.
In a paper titled, “The Awo Legacy embedded in the call for political restructuring in Nigeria”said, these times, this campaign for political restructuring call for unprecedented determination and steadfastness on the part of those of us who believe in the need for, truly, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Afenifere leader, Reuben Fasoranti urged the rulers to return to the structure that our leaders negotiated in the past.
Bishop Ayo Ladigbolu (rtd) noted that Yoruba is one and that they must all support the prosperity of the Region through restructuring.
Former Governor Ogun State,Gbenga Daniel said Restructuring is not Cessation but a Sina Qua Non for economic growth.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi supported restructuring that will empower the Youths and one that is devoid of political influence.
Leader of the Odua People’s Congress (OPC) advocated for restructuring of the nation along regional governments.
Chief John Nwodo who led the Igbo people to the Summit on invitation described the gathering as an opportunity to have people have a voice on how they want to be governed.
“Many believed that the call for restructuring was a ploy by Southern Nigeria explaining that only those who can tilt their lands would be rich”, he stated.
The summit which was attended by Yoruba leaders, governors, parliamentarians ,Yoruba social cultural groups, professional bodies, market leaders, youth groups and friends of the Yoruba nation.
After exhaustive deliberations of Yoruba people from the six south-west states. Kwara and kogi states adopted the following Communiqué:
Summit recalls with nostalgia, the great strides made by the Yoruba nation in the years of self-government up until the abrogation of the federal constitution in 1966 evident in mass literacy, novel infrastructural strides and giant leaps in all spheres of human development.
Summit noted that the crisis of over-centralization has led to mass misery in across the country with poverty levels at 72%, unemployment rate at 65% internal immigration and internal displacement, security threat in form of Boko Haram, herdsmen and organized crime.
Summit convinced that Nigeria is careering dangerously to the edge of the slope except urgent steps are taken to restructure Nigeria from a unitary constitution to a federal constitution as negotiated by our founding fathers at independence in 1960.
That Nigeria must return to a proper federation as obtained in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions. This has been our position since 1950 Ibadan conference and developments in Nigeria over the last fifty years reinforce our conviction.
That Yoruba are clear that restructuring does not mean different things to different people other than that a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria can only know real peace and development if it is run only along federal lines.
That the greatest imperatives of restructuring Nigeria is to move from a rent-seeking and money sharing anti-development economy to productivity by ensuring that the federating units are free to own and develop their resources. They should pay agreed sums to the federation purse to implement central services.
That the federating units- whether states, zones or regions must themselves be governed by written constitution to curb impurity at all levels.
Nigeria shall be a federation comprised of six regions and the federal capital Territory, Abuja.
The Federal Government shall make laws and only have powers in relation to items specified on the legislative list contained in the constitution of the Federation.
The Regions shall in turn be composed as states. Each regions shall have its own constitution containing enumerated exclusive and concurrent legislative lists regarding matters upon which the regions and the states may act or legislate.
Contiguous territories, ethnic nationalities or settlement shall be at liberty through a plebiscite, to elect to be part of any contiguous region other than the region in which the current geo-political zone or state boundaries places them.
States as presently comprised in the geo-political zones into which they fall, which shall become regions, shall continue to exercise the executive, legislative and judicial functions currently exercised at that level of government.
The States with a region shall determine the items on the legislative lists in the Regional constitution for the purpose of good government and the administration and provision of common inter-state social, economic and infrastructural requirements. Residual powers shall be vested in the states
The power to create states shall be within the exclusive powers of the region which shall be obliged to create a state provided a plebiscite is conducted, following a request by an agreed percentage of the residents of the ethnic nationality within a state. The procedure for conducting a plebiscite and the percentage of any ethnic nationality shall be out in the regional constitution.
The power to create local governments and assign functions to them shall be vested in the states.
States shall be entitled to manage all resources found within their boundaries and the revenue accruing therefrom. The issue of the entitlement of littoral states to offshore resources and the extension of such rights from the continental shelf and rights accruing to the federal government shall be determined by the national assembly.
The sharing ration of all revenues raised by means of taxation shall be 50% to the states, 35% to the regional government and 15% to the government of the federation.
For a period of 10years from the commencement of the operation of the new constitution (or such other agreed period to be enshrined in the federal constitution) there shall be a special fund for the development of all minerals in the country. The Government of the federation shall raise this sum by way of additional taxation on resources at a rate to be agreed by the National Assembly. The National Assembly shall set up a body to manage the funds with equal representation of nominees from each of the Regional governments and shall also set out and specify the guidelines for the administration of the funds exclusively for this purpose. The president of the Federation shall appoint a chairperson for the entity so formed.
That these agreed positions of the Yoruba taken at the Summit shall form the basis of negotiations with our partners in the Nigerian project for a United Nigeria based on Justice, peace and fair play.
Also at the Summit were, Chief Olu Falae, Dr Olusegun Mimiko.Chief Ayo Adebanjo,Idowu Sofola (SAN), Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (rtd),Walter Ofonagoro, Alfred Oxfold, Senator Iyiola Omisore among others