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Regional Autonomy...or Nothing

By Segun Balogun
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Nigeria is at a trying and testy juncture. One would therefore expect that we all should seize any opportunity to build consensus and reclaim the country from wrong-footed ideas and practices that brought Nigeria to this sorry state where it is difficult to imagine a better future.

We are therefore baffled at the take-it-or-Ieave-it attitude of delegates from other ethnic nationalities, particularly the Northern delegates who circulated a document full of fallacies few weeks ago. Those fallacies have now been exposed by the facts and figures contained in the publication we are unveiling today.

It is inconceivable that northern leaders are the ones leading the campaign against devolution of power and restructuring of government. If any region needs a stronger federating unit with greater capacity to provide education, health, security, wealth creation and other social amenities, it is the North where strong links exist between the level of poverty and conscription of innocent youths into extremist tendencies. It appears Northern leaders are not concerned, and indeed have no plan for the teeming youth from the region, as long as they are able to continue clinging to their hold on power.

However, we are never in doubt that Regionalism is the most viable instrument for a stronger and united Nigeria. The YORUBA PEOPLE OF NIGERIA hereby make the following demands:

1. Regionalism: States in Yoruba land want a regional government with its own constitution and unfettered political and fiscal autonomy, except on issues it agrees to cede to the federal government. The South West Region must include all Yoruba people outside the imposed artificial boundaries in Edo, Delta, Kogi and Kwara States.

2. A negotiated legislative Exclusive, Concurrent and Residual list

3. A unicameral legislature at the center; details of the Regional legislature shall be clearly set out in the constitution

4. A parliamentary form of government at the centre

5. The right to self determination on and up to the right to secede

6. A just and equitable taxation system that will treat the federating units with equality and better coordination at the federal level in order to eliminate the current rentier syndrome.

7. Fiscal Federalism and Resource Control: a system whereby a substantial part of the proceeds accruable from every federating unit will be retained and an agreed percentage contributed to the center by the federating units for the responsibility of the Federal government.

8. Establishment of Regional Police
9. A new people's constitution: the resolutions and conclusions of the 2014 National Conference shall lead to an autochthonous Constitution, that is a home-grown and all inclusive draft that shall be submitted to the Nigerian electorate voting in a Referendum

10. Status of Lagos: Lagos will continue to be the economic nerve centre of Nigeria and the West African sub-Region, hence, there shall be an appropriate budgetary provision that is part of the First Line Charge in the Federation Account.

We are not enforcing our demands on others. They are free to explore whatever suits them while we should be free to organise our governance the way it suits us.

Mr. Tokunbo Ajasin addressing journalists on Monday at Gani Fawehinmi (Freedom Park) Ojota on the publication titled "Regional Autonomy...or Nothing." With him are L-R: Arch Ayo Osunloye, Lagos Coordinator of Afenifere Renewal Group, Otunba Shade Odukoya, a leader of Atayese, Chief Adekunle Olaiya, Baale of Makoko, Dr Ade Adeabgo, the Executive Director of Yoruba Academy.