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Yoruba Groups Insist On Regional Autonomy

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Some Yoruba socio-cultural groups on Monday laid out a fresh demand for regional autonomy.

They said the people of the  South-West would accept nothing short of fiscal federalism, resource control and parliamentary government from the National Conference.

The group – the Afenifere Renewal Group, the Yoruba Assembly and the Yoruba Academy – who unveiled a publication entitled, 'Regional autonomy or nothing,' at the Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, Lagos, also condemned northern delegates at the national conference for campaigning against devolution of power and restructuring of government.

A leader of the ARG, Mr. Tokunbo Ajasin, while addressing journalists at the event, said Nigerians needed to build a consensus and reclaim the country from ideas and practices that had brought the country to its current sorry state.

He said, “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.”

The groups listed the demands of Yoruba to include a regional government, with its own constitution and unfettered political and fiscal autonomy; a negotiated legislative exclusive, concurrent and residual list; a unicameral legislature at the centre, and a parliamentary form of government at the centre.

The also demanded the right to self-determination, up to the right to secede; a just and equitable taxation system that would treat the federating units with equality, fiscal federalism and resource control; establishment of regional police; a new people's constitution at the end of the confab; and a special status for Lagos State.