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Nass, National Dialog And Sovereignty

By Egbe Omo Oduduwa
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Prominent Yoruba leaders have advocated certain methodologies towards resolving the current crisis facing the Nigerian post-colonial State. These solutions are anchored on either ensuring the National Assembly becoming the platform for resolution or convening another round of National Dialog or Conference to fashion out the way forward.

According to Chief Olusegun Osoba, Sovereignty of the Peoples of Nigeria resides with the National Assembly and the body has all the powers to determine the necessary trajectory for solving Nigeria’s problems. Professor Wole Soyinka advocated a National Dialog among all the people across party and ethnic lines while Chief Olusegun Obasanjo also demanded some form of a National Dialog of Nigerians at different levels of the society whose inputs will drive another National Conference, this time, to be “owned by the citizens”; a view also subscribed to by “Project Nigeria”, with General Alani Akinrinade as one of its leading lights.

All of these suggestions had, as the backdrop, the heightened level of insecurity in the country, even as this is detached from the foundational and fundamental problematic of the Nigerian post-colonial State. “Insecurity”, by itself, and ascribed to either criminals or bandits or Fulani herdsmen or all of them combined has now become a motive for the strengthening of the Architecture of State where the central government becomes more and more dependent on its armed forces and now being charged with organizing another round of a National Conference as an additional prerogative.

Manifestation of “insecurity” in its current form is an expression of the defective nature of the post-colonial State itself, where, its architecture is derived as a negation of the Sovereignty of the peoples of Nigeria. Thus, such a State cannot but heighten the alienation of the various Peoples.

The only time the Sovereignty of the Peoples of Nigeria became manifest was at the Pre-Independence Conferences; even as the representation was largely defined by the political parties which were, by and large, representative of the various Peoples of Nigeria and which eventuality established the 1960 Federal Constitution as the Grundnorm.

The overthrow of this Grundnorm through the January 1966 military coups and sustained by subsequent coups ensured the continuous negation of the Sovereignty of the Peoples; the Sovereignty now being assumed by the military supposedly acting on behalf of the Peoples.

This is the process which established the National Assembly at various times, and which, at any point in Nigeria’s post-1966 history, cannot be deemed to be representative of the Sovereignty of the Peoples not only because all of the military-induced Constitutions upon which it rests were fraudulent contraptions ascribed to the Peoples of Nigeria by the military establishment; but also because the military itself was created as a force for the suppression of the Peoples and whose practices, over time, has shown its anti-people characteristics.

The Constitutions also deny the existence of the various Peoples, in and of themselves, as the Constituent parts of Nigeria hence any of the institutions warehoused within such Constitutions cannot be said to harbor any form of Sovereignty of the Peoples, unless such Sovereignty has now been reduced to mere periodic elections which can be won or lost by any means necessary as had also happened in the history of Nigeria.

Nigerian elections are not determined, neither are they dependent on the needs and expectations of the Constituent Nationalities but result from what had been predetermined by the central government as being necessary for the Nationality’s existence. To ascribe Sovereignty to such an elected Legislature when such elections are not determined by the Nationality negates Sovereignty itself.

Even if these reservations were to be ignored, the final word on the Sovereignty of the People still reside on the People themselves and this cannot be abridged by any Legislative Assembly.

The proposal for a National Conference or Dialog also fails the Sovereignty test; for if, since Independence, Nigeria had been moving from one stage of crisis to another, it behooves on us to discover why each successive administration had been plagued with these existential issues, especially when previous National Conferences have only ended up legitimizing doubtful socio-political legacies – IMF debates, Political Bureau, Niki Tobi’s Constitutional review, Abubakar’s consultations, Obasanjo’s “Technical Review Committee”; Yar Adua’s Constitutional Review, Jonathan’s “Confab” and APC’s Committee on Restructuring; each of which was a case of working to the answer as none of the various Peoples of Nigeria participated as representatives of their Nations but as “Nigerians” when the concept of Nigeria itself is the problem that must be resolved.

While every effort is being made in Nigeria to deny the Sovereignty of the Peoples through the denial of their existence as Nations in and of themselves, the current agitation against the special treatment being accorded to the Fulani by the current administration through the now suspended “RUGA” scheme; approval of a short wave radio license for the Fulani; the attempt by the central government to finance what the Fulani agreed to be their cultural economy but now expected to be a Nigerian imperative, all show that there is a Fulani National Question in Nigeria, unless it is now being said that the Fulani are not a Nationality in Nigeria.

Alongside this Fulani National Question, comes other Nationality Questions and it cannot be suggested that the Nigerian State must pander to each of the Nationalities in order to address developmental problems of the country, more so when, as the First Republic showed, the Nationalities, by and large, through the Regions, were quite capable of addressing their issues. It is thus imperative that the recognition of their existence is the expression of their Sovereignty.

This non-recognition of Nations, with their own peculiarities and proclivities, is the problem with Nigeria and the current existential issues cannot be resolved by continuous denial more so when specific attempts are being made, to the advantage of one over the other, all in the name of “Nigerian Nationhood” or more appropriately, Nigerian Statehood.

Therefore, rather than ignoring this fundamental flaw, recognizing each of the Nations must become the foundation for a resolution where each Nation (or a combination of Nations) will determine the conditions of existence with the other. This must be the precursor to any form of “National Conference or Dialog” now being advocated by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Professor Wole Soyinka and General Akinrinade while also vitiating the need for any intervention by the National Assembly.

For the solution to be “owned by the citizens” therefore necessitates a Referendum within the Nationality; a Referendum being the repository of Sovereignty which cannot be abridged and the vehicle for a determination of the conditions for co-existence of the Nations. This is why Egbe Omo Oduduwa is submitting the "Bill for A Referendum in Yorubaland “to our various Houses of Assembly. Accordingly, and in order to drive the process towards a National Dialog or Conference, Egbe Omo Oduduwa calls on these notable Yoruba leaders as well as the Yoruba section of the current administration to back this initiative and make it a reality.

Shenge Rahman, Femi Odedeyi, for and on behalf of Egbe Omo Oduduwa

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