COMMUNIQUÉ of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Coalition of O'dua Self Determination Groups (COSEG), O'dua Nationalist Coalition (ONAC), Atayese and Covenant Group (CG), Afenifere Youth Forum On Modalities Of The Proposed National Conference

By Segun Balogun

1. On November 1 2013, the Afenifere Renewal Group [ARG] led a team of Yoruba Self Determination Groups to jointly present a memorandum to the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue led by Senator Femi Okurounmu in Lagos.

2. After the publication of the Executive Summary of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue's report in the media, the above named groups held a meeting on 22 January 2014 to review the recommendations. Below are our submissions.

3. We reiterate the fact that for Nigeria to achieve its potentials, a National Conference is needed to resolve the political logjam that is welded on the entire governance structure of the country. The obvious lesson since the return to democracy in 1999 is that partisan politics, with is interminable ability to fuel mistrust and ethno-religious bigotry, cannot help Nigeria's cause.

4. We stand by our position, that a National Conference – the type that Nigeria needs – must be a conference of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. Anything short of this would not change the fortune of Nigeria's drifting ship as could be gleaned from the history and peculiar challenges the country has faced since the amalgamation in 1914. The colonialists did not sign treaties with any other group in the process leading up to the amalgamation and there is a huge and compelling body of evidence that makes it mandatory for ethnic nationalities to meet at a roundtable and discuss the future of this nation.

5. We want to make it clear to Nigerians that our opinion on the need for a National Conference is for all ethnic groups to discuss Nigeria and how the inherent and creative potentials of its components could be harnessed within a constitutional framework that is suitable for everybody. We therefore see no reason why an ethnic group should have simple majority in representation. We believe that equal number of delegates should come from each of the six administrative zones.

6. On the nomination of delegates, either by the President or the State Governors, we are mindful of the fact that undue interference of political interests has been the bane of previous efforts. Therefore, for this conference to be successful, no partisan political interest must be represented. We therefore kick against the nomination of delegate by anybody. We want to discuss Nigeria, not partisan politics or vested interest. To deter insinuations of a vested agenda, our advice to President Goodluck Jonathan is to refuse the temptation to personally nominate delegates.

7. Our position is that the country must be restructured to reflect a true federalist country. Therefore, this, in addition to other allied issues, must be the focal point of the National Conference. The current federating units are not viable and the current governance structure midwives developmental barriers and imposes high cost of governance on the polity.

8. The purpose of the National Conference must be to give Nigerians and Nigeria a new Constitution based on the free will of the people. There is no gainsaying that the current 1999 Constitution (amended), with all its manifest deficiencies in resolving national challenges, cannot sustain peaceful and progressive national growth.

9. The decisions that delegates from each region take at the conference must be subjected to a referendum in their respective regions.

10. As Yoruba people, we are conscious of the fact that various conferences in the past were mere mirages which did not meet the genuine aspirations of Nigerian people. We are also aware of the justifiable groundswell of suspicions against the current effort. However, as Yoruba people, we see every platform as an opportunity to represent the age long development agenda of our people.

11. If a peaceful and mutually agreeable federal structure is made impossible through a deliberate subversion of a Constitutional Conference by enforcing unacceptable modalities, the Yoruba people shall reserve the right to take its fate in its hand.

Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG)
Coalition of O'dua Self Determination Groups (COSEG)

PRONACO Action Group (PRAG)
Covenant Group (CG)
O'dua Nationalist Coalition (ONAC)
Afenifere Youth Forum

Segun Balogun
Programme Officer
Afenifere Renewal Group
23, Fola Jinadu Crescent,
Gbagada, Lagos.