Open Letter To Bola Ahmed Tinubu And Other Yoruba Leaders

By Egbe Omo Oduduwa
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YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE salutes the display of courage, steadfastness, devotion, and strength of the # ENDSARS Campaigners. The violent attack on the protesters at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020 was an act that only barbarians could contemplate and execute! The YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE commiserates with the families and friends of the victims of the unwarranted brutalities and wishes the injured ones’ speedy recovery.

The YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE also commends our Governors and other elected and appointed officials from the Yoruba Region for their words of encouragement as well as their marching in solidarity with the #ENDSARS campaigners, despite which the campaign degenerated into the massive destruction of economic and cultural Institutions Yorubaland, especially Lagos.

The YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE notes our Governors’ acknowledgement of the real political and economic danger to Yorubaland resulting from this destruction alongside the call for “State Police” by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Lagos State House of Assembly, as providing a historic opportunity for the mapping out of a PATHWAY for the resolution of the recurring demands for True Federalism by the Yoruba Nation, a process started from the earliest days of the Egbe Omo Oduduwa and all through the period of the Action Group in power in the Western Region, continuing till date.

The events preceding October 20, and what followed thereafter have thrown up issues that must compel sober and rigorous reflections on the National Question in Nigeria by Yoruba people in our long-standing quest for Self-determination.

The YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE has been interrogating the Nigerian problematic as this "Prison House of Nations" unravels and will continue to do so as events that challenge its claims to Legitimacy unfold.

The #ENDSARS critique of Nigeria and the fallouts arising therefrom must therefore come up for scrutiny!

And we thus state as follows:
(1) Whereas Nigeria is incontrovertibly a Multi-National, Multi-Cultural and Multi-Lingual geo-political entity, the #ENDSARS anchors its Constitutional Reform proposal NOT on the People's/ Ethnic Nationalities that make up (or held up in) the Prison House of Nations by virtue of its denial of INDIGENEITY in favor of PAN-NIGERIAN CITIZENSHIP as the building block of the New Nigeria thereby aligning itself with the Homogenization of Cultures and Uniformity Agenda that have been the albatross and bane of the Nigerian Post-Colonial State! This point is of crucial importance when we bear in mind the insistence of some people on the status of Lagos as "NO MAN'S LAND", YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE finds this unacceptable and insists on the Constitutional Reformation of Nigeria on the Federalist basis of the Ethnic Nationalities that voluntarily agree to the creation of a UNION!

(2) YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE notes with curiosity, Item 3 in the List of demands proposed by #ENDSARS that speaks of “an urgent Referendum within 90 days to begin the line-by-line review, reconstruction and upgrade of the extant constitution to be more functional for a 21st Century nation. The selection process for this referendum will have 50% young people under 60 nominated by their peers in a transparent, judicious, and fair process. We demand that credence be given to terms of citizenship over indigeneship and state of residence over state of origin.”

(3) Our observations on the above are as follows:
(a) the said demand betrays a profound misunderstanding of the concept and process of Referendum as evidenced by its conflation of a vote by a selected group based on generational criterion acting in representative capacity with a popular decision by vote based on Universal Adult Suffrage!

(b) the framing of the Constitutional reform proposal of Nigeria upon and around generational synopsis is definitely and diametrically antithetical to the Yoruba worldview which accords recognition to the synergy and symbiotic relationship between the "old" and the "young" as the foundation for social interactions! Consequently, the Constitutional Reformation of Nigeria from the Yoruba point of view must derive from the concrete expression of the wishes and desires of the Peoples /Ethnic Nationalities and not the abstract and amorphous aggregation of supposed positions of demographic groups!

(c) the preference for state of residence over state of origin in a Multi-ethnic, Multi-Cultural and Multi-Lingual betrays an avaricious longing by some for all the privileges and rights that Yoruba land can avail them while they hold tightly to their own mainland.

(d) the line- by- line Constitutional Review methodology proposed by #ENDSARS suggests that what they really have in mind is an amendment process by the Central Legislature and not any "Referendum". Clearly, this cannot fly in the light of our reality.

(e) YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE’S position is unambiguously a move for the popular vote of each constituent unit, that is each Nationality, by way of REFERENDUM as a fundamental, starting point in the Constitutional Reformation of Nigeria.

(4) The YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE is not unaware of the eruption of #ENDSARS-like protests on the African Continent in the recent past characterized by heavy involvement of youths and great deployment of technology to effect political changes as witnessed in largely Mono-lingual and Mono- cultural countries like Tunisia, Egypt what is better known as the "Arab Springs" as well as the more recent instance of Sudan. We however must pay attention to the fact that all of them ended up only in Regime changes without any fundamental transformation, with the "gains" recorded therefrom quickly turning into their opposites in the hands of replacement Regimes such as the El-Sisi military dictatorship in Egypt.

(5) This mandates a re-examination of our engagement with the Nigerian Post-Colonial State, designed by the colonial power as a negation of our humanity, and strengthened with a security apparatus that gave birth to SARS and its operational affiliates within the security services and which, by definition, cannot usher in any developmental paradigm for the Peoples imprisoned within its architecture, as have been experienced in all Post-Colonial States.

(6) History is about to repeat itself as #ENDSARS pursuits and its consequences are largely confined to Yorubaland and now accompanied by a deliberate attempt to paralyze Yoruba economic and political interests, especially in Lagos, continuing from what we had been experiencing since the colonial era, all flowing from the assertion that Lagos is a “no man’s Land”.

(7) As a first step in preventing the potential defenestration of Yoruba Political Leadership, the YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE is, by this Open Letter, asking our Governors and other Yoruba Leaders to:

(a) Put into motion the legal enablement of a “Yoruba Global Commission” as the official, Global Representative of the Yoruba Nation, to, among others, liaise with the International Community on issues of particular importance to the Yoruba Nation. The Commission shall include members from Kwara and Kogi States and the Yoruba Diaspora.

(b) Pass the already available Bill for a REFERENDUM in Yorubaland into Law; the REFERENDUM to take place as soon as conditions permit.

(8) This will be a further and practical step to ensure that their support of #ENDSARS in their States will not be in vain, while also recognizing the agitations of the Yoruba in Kwara and Kogi states to be joined with their kin in the rest of Yorubaland as well as the panacea to the problematic of the Nigerian Post-Colonial State, especially with the provision in the Bill for a REFERENDUM on the Judicial Powers and the Internal Security system of the Region, anchored on the reconstruction of Nigeria as “A Federal Nigeria, through a valid Federal Constitution, to be known as The Union of Nigerian Constituent Nationalities, with a Federal Presidential Council, whose members will be selected or elected from each of the Nationalities as Federating Units and from whom a Head of State will be selected or elected as the primus-inter-pares with an agreed term.”

Thank you, Sirs.