South West compiles agenda for national confab

By The Citizen

Regional autonomy, parliamentary system of government, state police, new constitution, taxation system/fiscal federalism and status of Lagos topped the list of Yoruba Agenda for the forthcoming National Conference.

Others included limiting the powers of the central government and the federating units and immunity of certain public officers from prosecution.

The position of the South West was presented at the Oyo State House of Chiefs, Ibadan on Thursday by a committee led by former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, with retired Lt.-Gen. Alani Akinrinade as the Vice Chairman.

The gathering tagged 'Pan Yoruba Assembly', reviewed, discussed and adopted the agenda drafted by a pre-Confab Committee.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the conference will begin on March 10, in Abuja.

The group called for a political arrangement consisting of a central union/federal government based on the current six geo-political zones - including all other Yoruba separated from their kith and kin.

These include the Yoruba-speaking people of Edo, Delta, Kogi and Kwara.

The committee, which had Dr Kunle Olajide as its Secretary, recommended Westminster model of government at the federal level.

It also called for a ceremonial President and Prime Minister as the head of government business.

However, at the regional level, the committee prescribed regional constitution, where there would be a governor and deputy governor; with the governor serving as the head of business.

It also recommended a unicameral legislature at the centre, while stating that the details of the regional legislature would be worked out later.

'However, we believe that the legislators shall function on a part-time basis,' the document produced by the committee stated.

It called for fiscal federalism/resource control system, where substantial part of the proceeds accruable from regions would be domiciled in the region.

The Yoruba position paper also stated that a percentage would be contributed to the federal by regions.

For public order and security, the group called for the matter to be included in the residual list.

Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State at the meeting called for a return to true federalism.

Olu Falae, Chairman of the Agenda Drafting Committee, expressed the hope that it would be a successful conference.

Reuben Fasoranti, Leader of Afenifere, said the Yoruba wished to correct the wrongs of the past.

Sola Ebisemi, who represented Gov. Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, said census had been politicised in Nigeria.

He called on INEC to update the voter register.
Gbadebo Adedeji, former Chairman of Ekiti Council of Obas and Oba of Imesi-Oke, representing Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, said, 'legislators should sit on part-time basis.'

Wale Osun, representing Afenifere Renewal Group, said there must be unity of the Yoruba at the conference, adding 'nobody should oppose the agenda.'

Prof. Bunmi Ayoade, Oodua Foundation (Europe) said 'the current position of Yoruba in Nigeria is lamentable. We are not happy with the plight of Yoruba,' he said.

Sen. Femi Okunrounmu, Chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee on National Conference, said Yoruba should not go to the conference with different agenda.

Former Gov. Olusegun Osoba of Ogun, who spoke on the evolution of the media in Nigeria, said the conference should consider the freedom of the press.

Prof. Daud Noibi, Secretary of Muslim Ummah, South West, called on the delegates to act according to the will of God.

Others present were former Gov. Lateef Jakande of Lagos State, former Justice of the International Court of Justice, Bola Ajibola, and Oodua People's Congress factional leader, Gani Adams. NAN