- Proposes six regional governments
The negotiation for a new framework of nation building in a Nigeria that will guarantee equity, fairness and liberty has continued within the disparate ethnic nationalities in the country.
The Yoruba nation, mobilizing their prominent sons from the six states in the South West, extending to Kogi and Kwara states in the North Central, to hold round table deliberations at Ibadan, Oyo State, last week, to reaffirm the insistence of the zone on restructuring of the country into six regional governments and reversal to the 1960 and 1963 versions of federal constitution which granted regional autonomy.
The South West delegates at the seeming mini-conference who had the solidarity of their contemporaries from the South East and South-South, came up with the famous Ibadan Declaration.
The Ibadan Declaration contained the resolutions of the meeting last Thursday which prescribed the reconstitution of Nigeria into six main autonomous regional zones, with Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), maintaining its current autonomy. The delegates advocated a federal system of government where all regions are empowered to govern their people and control the resources at their own pace.
Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, Chairman of the Ibadan summit, in his opening remarks, emphasised that restructuring of Nigeria would curb the over concentration of power at the centre.
He articulated that Nigeria recorded its greatest and fastest economic, political and educational development during the self-government of the First Republic where each region had powers for economic production.
Babalola had declared: “Each of the regions was fairly autonomous and could legislate over a number of items which have today been taken over by the Federal Government.
“None of the constitutions fashioned out by the military reflects the ideals which informed the making of the 1954, 1960 and 1963 Constitutions. What the military did to those constitutions weaken the component states, destroy or impair their power to develop and sustain themselves.
“It is, therefore, correct to state that the military and their civilian apologist either by design of by accident have planted the seeds of national disintegration and disharmony.”
The legal luminary cautioned: “The agitation for secession is an ill wind that does no good. No matter the motive of the conveners of Berlin Conference, we have lived together for over 100 years having been married by fiat of the Europeans.
“It is better to dialogue and restructure the country. No woman wants a dissolution of a marriage if the parties live in comfort and are prosperous. It is incumbent on the leaders to make the country so prosperous that nobody would agitate for recession.’’
Comrade Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere spokesperson, in a communiqué jointly signed by Babalola and Chairman of the Planning Committee, Dr Kunle Olajide; admonished that Nigeria “is careering dangerously to the edge of the slope” and required urgent remedial actions to restructure it from a unitary constitution to a federal constitution as was the case at independence in 1960.”
Odumakin highlighted: “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-centralisation has led to mass misery in across the country with poverty levels at 72 per cent, unemployment rate at 65 per cent internal immigration and internal displacement, security threat in form of Boko Haram, herdsmen and organised 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.”
The communique indicated that the Summit resolved as follows:
“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 impunity 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 Region 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.
“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.
“That these agreed positions of the Yoruba taken today shall form the basis of negotiations with our partners in the Nigerian project for a United Nigeria based on Justice, peace and fair play,” the communiqué read.
Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN, moved a motion for the adoption of the communique, which was unanimously adopted by those present at the event.
President-General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, and former Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Chief Albert Horsfall, led delegations from the South-East and South-South, to the Summit in solidarity with the South West, and support the Yoruba nation on the advocacy for restructuring of the polity.
Nwodo, leading the high-powered South-East delegation, which included former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Ike Nwachukwu, and former Minister of Information, Dr. Walter Ofonagoro, articulated South east resolve for restructuring of the Nigerian project.
“With all humility, I extend the greetings of Ndigbo to Yoruba people.
“I have come with a very large delegation to emphasise our solidarity with you on this occasion. What is happening today (yesterday) shows that democracy has begun to grow in Nigeria.
“Many people have tried to destroy restructuring and I am saying that it is a ploy by some Nigerians to monopolise the God-given mineral resources in Southern Nigeria. I think those who are doing this do not love Nigeria,” Nwodo declared.
Horsfall, representing the South-South, reinforced Nwodo articulation in consonance with the South-South resolution.
“We of the South-South have for several years run the economy of this country; we provided the engine room that runs Nigeria yet we are still expecting to have a privilege to run our own affairs. We do not want a federation based on unitary system. We are not mad; we are agitating for our rights.
“What we are talking about here, we of the Niger Delta started it long ago. You recall the agitation for resource control. You can call me, Mr. Resource Control,’’ Horsfall declared.
Participants at the Ibadan Summit included Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose; Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi II; former Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko; former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae; Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti; Chief Ayo Adebanjo; Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Sen. Babafemi Ojudu; former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode; Senior Special Assistant ON Publicity to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe; former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Sen. Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele; former Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Senator Gbenga Kaka; Founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Frederick Fasehun; Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi who was represented by Bashorun of Oyo, High Chief Yusuf Ayoola; National Coordinator of OPC, Otunba Gani Adams; Chairman of Yoruba Council of Elders, Chief Idowu Sofola; Sen Iyiola Omisore; Sen Mojisola Akinfenwa and Chief Supo Shonibare.
Others include Prof. Tunde Adeniran; Orangun of Ila, Oba Wahab Oyedokun; Oba Lekan Balogun, Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland; Oba Latifu Adebimpe, Ashipa Balogun of Ibadanland; Mr. Wale Oshun, Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu, retired Archbishop of Methodist Church Nigeria; Mr. Babatunde Oduyoye, AD chieftain, Dr. Yemi Farunmbi and Col Tony Nyiam (retd).
Former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, five other incumbent governors, including members of the National Assembly, from the South West, were absent at the Ibadan Summit.