Yoruba Referendum Committee's Response To Asiwaju Tinubu(1)

By The Editorial Board, Yoruba Referendum Committee

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s Statement on March 13, 2021 on the crises bedeviling the Nigerian Post-Colonial State is a welcome development, not only because he is one of the leading lights of the ruling party but also a major political figure in Yorubaland, going by his attempts to reposition the Yoruba within the Nigerian Political firmament. While it is recognized that there are, of necessity, differing perspectives and analytical attempts regarding the circumstances in which we as Yoruba have found ourselves, his conclusion calls for an interrogation of his entire Statement. The necessity for this has become even more urgent in the light of the critical situation of the Yoruba Nation within the context of the Nigerian Nation-State paradigm.

  • He concluded as follows: “If left to itself, this situation may spread and threaten the progress of the nation. It could call into proximate question the utility of the social compact that holds government and governed in positive bond, one to the other. We have a decision to make. Do we attempt the hard things that decency requires of us to right the situation? Or do we allow ourselves to be slave to short-term motives that appeal to base instinct that run afoul of the democratic principles upon which this republic is founded and for which so many have already sacrificed so much? In the question itself, lies the answer.
  • YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE’s RESPONSE: (i)The “hard things” required must be predicated on the recognition of the real cause(s) of the problem and this is to be found in the negation of the FEDERALIST principles “upon which this republic is founded”. That FEDERALISM, despite its limitations, RECOGNIZED the NATIONALITIES as the PEOPLES of Nigeria, hence their administrations as REGIONS and the advocacy for creating MORE REGIONS to reflect the cultural and lingual diversity of the country, especially by the Political leadership of the Western Region, largely Yoruba and which became the bastion of this FEDERALIST advocacy but did not balk as to creating the Mid-West Region out of the Western Region while advocating for a simultaneous creation of the Middle Belt and Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers Regions, as a first step in decolonizing the amalgamated Protectorates. (ii)However, the emergent Post-Colonial State, led by the Northern and Eastern Regions, truncated these attempts by destroying the political leadership of the Western Region.(iii) THIS IS THE KERNEL OF THE PROBLEM which the Nigerian Post-Colonial state has been battling with and which has now led to the DENIAL of the NATIONALITY as the CONSTITUENT of the Nigerian State. The REVERSAL of the DENIAL must therefore be the “hard thing” required in addressing the Nigerian Crises. (iv)This REVERSAL must be anchored on reversing the loss of Sovereignty of the Peoples to successive military regimes and consolidated by civilian rule since 1999 through the instrumentality of the 1999 Constitution, which, in essence DENIED the existence of the Peoples by DENYING INDIGENITY and trying to SUBSTITUTE it with “Citizenship” and which has become the source for “farmer/herder disputes” and relegating the NATIONALITY to an “ethnic” thereby DENYING their existence as a PEOPLE.
    1. The above informed Asiwaju’s lead-up to his conclusion, to wit: The herder-farmer dispute has taken on acute and violent dimensions. It has cost too many innocent lives while destroying the property and livelihoods of many others. It has also aggravated ethnic sentiment and political tension. Despite the efforts of some of those in positions of high responsibility and public trust, the crisis has not significantly abated.”
    1. YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE’s RESPONSE: The current situation is the culmination of a series of violent dimensions of the “herder-farmer dispute” initially confined to the Middle Belt as witnessed in Southern Kaduna, Plateau and Benue States such that if the crises are yet to abate despite the efforts of those in “positions of high responsibility”, we must interrogate those efforts such that we will be able to know whether they were and are directed towards a particular direction and in whose favor as every effort since 1960 had aggravated the tensions which had become the regular feature in Nigeria towards the establishment of the Unitarist State by various mechanisms, principal of which is the now almost absolute control of the Security architecture of the Nigerian Post-Colonial State—the abatement of which must mean the recognition of this foundation, from which necessary conclusions must be drawn.
    1. Asiwaju says: “Sadly, others who should know better have incited matters by tossing about hate-tainted statements that fall dangerously short of the leadership these people claim to provide. We all must get hold of our better selves to treat this matter with the sobriety it requires.”
    1. YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE’s RESPONSE: Without expatiating on “hate-tainted statements”, it will be difficult for Asiwaju Tinubu to conclude as he did, more so when he assumed that some people claimed “leadership”; for leadership is not a function of a claim but the representation of a specific phenomenon such that the attributes of any claim would be manifested in its efficacy. Getting hold of “our better selves to treat this matter with the sobriety it requires” therefore implies that we start from the recognition and treatment of what is being presented by those who make a claim to leadership, without which no affirmative conclusion can be reached.
    1. Asiwaju says: “Because of the violence that has ensued and the fretful consequences of such violence, if left unabated, we must move in unison but decisively to end the spiral of death and destruction. Only when the violence and the illogic of it are halted can logic and reason prevail. Until the violence is rolled back, we cannot resolve the deep problems that underlie this conflict”.
    1. YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE’s RESPONSE: (i) We cannot “move in unison” unless and until there is a “unity of purpose”; in other words, the existence and maintenance of the Nigerian Post-Colonial State is driven by a fundamental conflict between “INDIGENEITY” and “CITIZENSHIP” whereby the fundamental objectives of the State are in contention, hence we cannot “move in unison” unless and until that end-goal is resolved in favor of one side or the other or a mutually beneficial relationship is made intrinsic to the architecture of State.(ii) To appeal to “unity” in this fundamental existential conflict is to paper over the cracks and hope for the best. The mere existence and reinforcement of this fundamental contradiction creates its own logic of violence which can only be “rolled back” when it is not only recognized but also addressed within its own realities.
    1. Asiwaju says: We will neither be able to uplift the farmer from his impoverished toil nor move the herder toward the historic transformation which he must make”.
    1. YORUBA REFERENDUM COMMITTEE’s RESPONSE: (i) From global and historical experience, either or both above can and have been achieved. (ii) In the Western countries, farmers and farming have been transformed from subsistence to commercial, even as they are still acknowledged as “farmers”. (iii) Herding has also been tamed as witnessed by various methodologies in animal husbandry. These were achieved by the violent overthrow of existing systems, replacing one form of production with another, usually with the instrumentality of either a State already established or in the process of becoming, as witnessed in Europe, where the violent overthrow of the feudal monarchies led to the Industrial revolution and consequently the revamping of farming in the economic transformation of their societies.(iv) Even in cases where forced collectivization or cooperation took place, like the former Soviet Union and China, farmers were “uplifted from impoverished toil” although placed under another form of toiling which also eventually led to another revolution, some violent, others not, to change their conditions. (v) Herding is an economic and cultural necessity among some African Nationalities, and in Nigeria, among the Fulani. (vi) It is also said that the herders do not own the cattle, they are essentially “workers”; therefore their “labor” will also evolve towards “historic transformation” when the nature of the State changes to meet the challenges of a Multi-Cultural and Multi-Lingual society.(vii) “Uplifting the farmers and herders” is therefore a reflection of the economic philosophy of the State, which, in Nigeria, can only come about, preferably without violence, only when the economic prerogatives of the CONSTITUENTS of the State become a fixed part of its architecture. (viii) This is borne out of the history of our “Golden Era” where farming and animal husbandry were integrated into an overall economic philosophy of development, including the educational system thereby ensuring the role of labor not only in agriculture but also in other productive sectors of the economy. This was what led to the introduction of the minimum wage economic regime in the Western Region without any input from the center. (TO BE CONTINUED)