Memo To Sw Governors (2) By Yoruba Referendum Committee

By Femi Odedeyi

The Yoruba Referendum Committee welcomes your engagement with the Nigerian State through the Southern Governors Forum and now with the SW Representatives in the National Assembly on the on-going issues about the Constitutional Re-Formation of Nigeria.

With the Yoruba notion that our heads cannot be shaved in our absence, the Yoruba Referendum Committee prepared and submitted a “Bill for a Yoruba Referendum” to you all and the Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, and Ekiti State Houses of Assembly, backed by a Petition which was at 5000 Signatures at the time.

At this point, the Petition is inching towards 10,000, coinciding with your engagement with the SW Members of the National Assembly.

This can be ascertained HERE:

We will continue to encourage more signatories.
The Bill for a Referendum is attached to this Memo.

The Annexure to the Bill contains our expectations of Nigeria’s Constitutional Re-Formation which we expect the Yoruba Referendum to validate and legitimize such that it becomes the foundation for negotiations with other members of the Southern Governors Forum, National Assembly members from other geo-political “zones” as well as the Nigerian State.

The Annexure is hereby broken down with short explanatory notes:

(A) 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.

(i) Every Constitution in the world starts by identifying the Constituents in their territorial geo-political spaces, as can be ascertained from various sources and the Nigerian case cannot be different.

(ii) The United States, usually cited as a case study in “Federalism” recognizes the territorial existence of the Native Americans, despite their being almost exterminated. The Indigenes of Nigeria’s geo-political territories, and in this instance, the Yoruba, cannot therefore be ignored in defining the Constituents of Nigeria.

(iii) The current states cannot be “federating Units” in that they are administrative entities, which were not even created by the residents but by military fiat. A country can have any form of administrative unit and to advance the view that they are a reality which we cannot run away from, is to deny the fact that the political and economic circumstances that make for their creation is the root cause of Nigeria’s problems today, such that their retention or changing can only be by the Peoples affected themselves and not by fiat from the Center. Thus, the Yoruba may thus decide to make every Yoruba town or city an administrative center—that will be our choice based on our economic and political imperatives.

(iv) It has been proven that Language is central to social and economic development, therefore the utilization of Yoruba Language in the production and reproduction of knowledge is essential to the economic, cultural, and social development of Yoruba people as well as preventing the loss or “death” of the Language. This is possible only when the Yoruba have control over the content and context of their educational policies, and which can only be possible if the Yoruba are a recognized geo-political entity.

(v) With due respect, the SW Members of the National Assembly do not specifically represent Yoruba interests, but that of their political parties which may be at variance with those of the Yoruba, because the parameters for party formation, registration and activity are not directly tied to the Yoruba experience.

(vi) We have experienced some form of anti-Yoruba collaboration by non-Yoruba Party formations, prominent of which was the NPC/NCNC Alliance in the First Republic whereby they ensured the loss of Ilorin and Kabba provinces as well as the excision of Lagos from the West.

(vii) The Yoruba in the present Kwara and Kogi States are also agitating to be reunited with their kin in the SW. We have no choice but to encourage them in this demand.

(B) Western/Oduduwa Region shall be a Constituent Unit of the Nigerian Union.

(C) Western/Oduduwa Region shall adopt a Parliamentary System of government.

(i) A Parliamentary System will considerably reduce monetization of elections, inter-Nationality tensions and allow for the fullest expression of each Constituent’s existential realities and preferences on who is to represent them at the Federal Council just as it reserves the powers to address any misrepresentation.

(ii) �� ensure responsibility of electors in measuring their activities of their elected officials.

(iii) reintroduce and reinforce Yoruba Omoluwabi parameters into governance.

(D) The Central Government of the Union shall have no power to interfere nor intervene in the affairs of the ODUDUWA REGION, save as shall be agreed to by three quarters of the members of the Region’s Parliament.

(i) This is borne out of our historical experience during the First Republic and replicated in the Second Republic with the introduction of “Presidential Liaison Officers” etc and which cannot be ignored unless we want history to repeat itself.

(ii) The practice continued during the military era whereby non-indigenes were appointed as Governors with debilitating effects on our economy, politics, and culture.

(iii) Even when these administrators are indigenes, as we had with Akin Aduwo, Bode George, David Jemibewon, Oladipo Diya, Raji Rasaki, Tunji Olurin, Oladayo Popoola, Olagunsoye Oyinlola et al, we recall some of our experiences where our economic and educational legacies became subjected to interests from the center where we had no control, to the point where our economy is now comatose.

(E) There shall be a Division of the Federal Armed Forces in the Region, 90% of which personnel shall be indigenes of the Region. The Divisional commander shall be an indigene of Oduduwa Region.

(i) The current state of insecurity makes this an imperative, for not only would such an army be socially and culturally sensitive and responsible, but it will also redress the concept and experience of the African Armed forces as a subjugating Force, which was its founding doctrine since the colonial era.

(ii) The existence of an army as a deterrent to an external threat must be predicated on what constitutes such a threat. Therefore, “National armies”, within the African context must be anchored on their Nationality responsibilities since the continent of Africa itself can be said to have no external enemies that it can successfully challenge, militarily. Our “military doctrine” must therefore be based on its historical and cultural necessities which will engender collaborations across military formations since such a military will embody the African essence.

(F) The Judicial power of the Region shall be vested in the Supreme Court of the Region, Court of Appeal, High Court, Customary Court and Other lower courts as the Parliament may establish. There shall be a Court of Appeal in each of the provinces. There shall be, in each province, a High Court from which appeals shall lie to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of the Region.

(G) Western/Oduduwa Region shall have its own internal security system.

(i) This speaks directly to the question of “State Police”. A “State Police” without a corresponding juridical power will be like waving a flag at the problem.

(ii) The demand for State Police is a consequence and not the cause of Federalism. Right now, States depend almost entirely on federal allocations to pay their workers' salaries; and it is this allocation that will be saddled with funding state police.

(H) Each Constituent Unit of the Nigerian Federation shall control primary interest in its own resources with an agreed Tax Model for the Federation.

(i) This was arrived at on the basis that Fiscal Federalism must proceed from the control of economic and fiscal policies by the communities whereby it is those communities (Federating Units) that will determine what is to go to the Center for its operations--of course all of these will be negotiated.

(ii) Derivation, even as practiced in the First Republic, presupposes that the center does not "give"; the "owner" gives, and the center "takes". The issue about Federalism is thus not about reductions or increases in such allocations.

With the above, it is our considered opinion that you will give the necessary attention to the Passage of the Bill for a Referendum, conduct the Referendum, and encourage your fellow Governors from the South to follow a similar trajectory, within the context of their own realities.

Thank you for your time, sirs.cYoruba Referendum Committee