BULLETIN #14: Open Letter To Governor Akeredolu

By Femi Odedeyi
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The Yoruba Referendum Committee is using this medium to address matters arising from your declaration to Bitrus Pogu, the leader of the Middle Belt Forum and Chairman of “Power Rotation Movement” during their courtesy visit to your office, wherein you reiterated the resolve of southern governors in ensuring the emergence of a southern president in 2023 as a form of advancing the quest for True Federalism in Nigeria.

We firmly believe that the potential pitfalls in this pursuit must be addressed in such a manner that will prepare us for any eventuality, while simultaneously strengthening our capacity to resolve the National Question in Nigeria through the Restructuring of Nigeria into a True Federal State which will address calls for power rotation/zoning of political offices, and now, a southern president.

Pursuant to this, the Yoruba Referendum Committee states as follows:

(1) For the record, the Yoruba Referendum Committee wants to make it clear that we do not subscribe to the “no elections” mantra being promoted by some tendencies in Yorubaland. Therefore, we are not opposed to either the 2022 Governorship elections in Osun and Ekiti States or all the elections slated for 2023. This is because there are no contradictions between the Yoruba Referendum and any elections that may be on ground as it is not possible to advocate “no elections” while simultaneously seeking a Referendum, for, a Referendum is an election, an electoral process that must be conducted by a valid and legitimate authority; the notion of “no elections” already removes such legitimacy and the basis for having a Referendum.

(2) In our case in Yorubaland, the valid and legitimate authority to conduct a Referendum resides in the Houses of Assembly, with the concurrence of the Governors. If there are no elections, such an authority cannot be exercised, for its members must be elected. Since Yorubaland has no other electoral methodology except what exists, the Yoruba Referendum Committee is demanding that the State Houses of Assembly as presently constituted, pass the Referendum Bill into Law, the current Governors to give their assent and begin the process of conducting the Referendum.

(3) Having set the records straight, we will now address the issue at hand, to wit: your assertion on the necessity for a southern president. We are sure that you know that the Presidential election itself requires all sorts of horse-trading, various forms of alliances and compromises within the country and this will be doubly so, with the quest for a southern president, which will call into being similar alliances and compromises within the south, which will vitiate the quest for True Federalism, and which may end up with a Middle Belt/South-South combination, thereby satisfying your declaration. The visit by the Middle Belt Forum and the “Power Rotation Movement” must therefore be seen within this context.

(4) Within this southern matrix, certain Yoruba leaders have also begun a campaign for a President from the East, rationalizing it as a quest for “justice and equity” but which is not only a capitulation but also a negation of the pursuit of True Federalism, the constant political pursuit of the Yoruba.

(5) This is because the demand for True Federalism itself is a quest for justice and equity, without which the anti-colonial struggle could not have been waged, even in its purely economist or social demands, as witnessed in the various demands of the peoples of Nigeria at the time; yet, the defeats suffered by the Federalist forces, post-Independence, did not neutralize its spirit, more so when it has sustained the various attempts by the Peoples of Nigeria to free themselves from the injustice embedded in the architecture of the Nigerian State.

(6) Their reduction of the quest for justice and equity into a geo-political preference for Nigeria’s Presidency is a recurring decimal since 1999 which had always been geared toward some expectation from whoever becomes the President, making the pursuit and realization of True Federalism dependent on the whims of such a person, thereby denying the self-directed efforts of, and by the Yoruba People, belying their claim of representing the same People, ultimately culminating in what they are propagating, today. Furthermore, it prevents the utilization of the contradictions within the Nigerian State to strengthen the resolve for True Federalism through the amplification of its inherent contradiction, and which includes the electoral question facing us today.

(7) Hence, while the demand for a president from the south may, on the surface, be attractive, it will be detrimental to the Yoruba.

(8) The proposition of the Yoruba Referendum Committee is not dependent on the outcome of the elections but centered around a pathway, beneficial to Yoruba People, regardless of the outcome of the contest for the presidency. Other Nationalities in the south and Middle Belt can be encouraged to take a cue from such a pathway.

(9) One of the requirements of this proposition is that Yoruba Governors use their influence to encourage the various Houses of Assembly in Yorubaland to pass the Bill for a Referendum into Law, more so when there is a Petition calling on them to do so. The Bill has already been submitted to the Speakers of the Houses of Assembly as well as to all of you as Governors.

(10) The outcome of this Nationality-based Referendum will create the framework for re-Negotiating of Nigeria into a Federal State, defined 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”.

(11) This will render the constant and unending demands for a southern or northern presidency superfluous.

(12) This existential context of engagement through the Nationality-Referendums provides the platform for direct participation of the Peoples in the process of their self-realization, a precondition for justice and equity. It is also the best Valid, Legal, Peaceable and Legitimate answer to the question you once posed as to where and when the Yoruba met and reached a consensus on any pathway forward.

Thank you, sir.
Yoruba Referendum Committee