Re: Bulletin #26: On Yoruba Leadership (2)

By Femi Odedeyi

(i) We start by recognizing that Nigeria’s political contestation for power at the center since Independence has never been a function of “democracy”, justice, equity, or fairness, but on the balance of forces/power between the contending parties, mainly between Unitarist and Federalist forces, and which the Yoruba Referendum Committee believes will come to a head in 2023.

(ii) This was manifested in every instance of political power contest at the Center, reflecting the balance of forces between the political parties as well as the Nationalities, as these examples show: Britain’s acquiescence to the NPC’s demand for majority of seats in the Federal Parliament, the Alliance between the NPC and NCNC to sustain their Parliamentary majority, the success of the January 15/16 Military coups largely dependent on the dominance of Igbo Officers in the Nigerian Army and whose outcome was the neutralization of Nigeria’s Federalism, the “revenge coup” of July 1966 largely due to the command and influence of Officers and rank and file of mainly northern origin, the NPN/NPP Alliance of the second republic, the military interregnum largely dominated by officers of northern origin, the 1999 Transition, anchored on sustaining Unitarist Nigeria by deflecting the “June 12” struggle and deferring to the Yoruba, and subsequent elections since then, anchored on different types of alignments and realignments of various political forces in order to take power.

(iii) From all these, the question of justice, equity and fairness is directly tied to the question of Federalism and the forces for or against it and have nothing to do with the contest for the presidency.

(iv) Since the Yoruba have no political party in the mold of either the AG or UPN, that is, the Center of Gravity of the current political parties are not in Yorubaland, the question of Yoruba Leadership must be situated within the context of which political party approximates Yoruba existential pursuits, philosophically anchored on Social Welfarism (Afenifere), which majority of the Yoruba subscribe to, such that a proper foundation for Yoruba Leadership will be laid.

(v) The PDP has become the party whose goal is permanent Hausa-Fulani Hegemony in Nigeria’s political firmament by demurring to even honor its own unwritten agreement to field a southerner. This is despite its presidential candidate’s foray into the realm of “devolution”. The Labor Party, through its Presidential candidate, has stated that there is nothing wrong with the 1999 Constitution, which is a negation of Yoruba existential, historical, and contemporary pursuits. The APC, though not a Yoruba Party nevertheless has a SW Leadership as a continuum of the AG through the AD and it is also the dominant party in Yorubaland. It has also established a committee on “True Federalism” even as it has not done anything about it. Yet, it is amenable to Yoruba dictates through direct and indirect political engagement.

(vi) This engagement will be conducted by establishing a pathway that will lead to the resolution of the political and organizational conundrum and simultaneously address any eventualities in Nigeria, including changes to political party dominance thereby preventing the political and organizational vacuum witnessed at the onset of the “June 12” crisis.

(vii) This necessity places heavy responsibility on the existing dominant political party in the Region.

(viii) This pathway must be clear as to its definition of Federalism as distinct from “devolution of powers” or a “return to the 1963 Constitution”. Devolution is anti-Federalism because devolved powers can also be taken back. The 1963 Constitution contained major anti-Federalist sections which was ultimately used against the Western Region.

(ix) Therefore, the quest for Federalism must be anchored on the Nationalities as Federating Units, as noted in Egbe Omo Oduduwa’s founding Constitution. This will lead to a New Federal Constitution for Nigeria to become a “Multi-National State” through the instrumentality of “Nationality Referendums”, with the Yoruba Referendum as a template. Switzerland is a good example. This was Egbe Omo Oduduwa’s original intent which was carried out through the Action Group whose Center of Gravity was in Yorubaland (West). Therefore, in this era, True Federalism must address the critical question of the Center of Gravity of any political party.

(x) Furthermore, such a pathway cannot be about creating a new “umbrella” organization because it is not possible or necessary and will create unnecessary and intractable tensions and problems as being witnessed now. Pursuing this path will either require the dissolution of all existing organizations, including “Afenifere”, “Ilana” as organizational structures or creating another coalition of groups which will be a repetition of earlier experiences. In the alternative, in case there is no single dominant partisan political party, that is, where the region is governed by different political parties and whose Centers of Gravity are not in Yorubaland, it may lead to another round of establishing such dominance throughout the Region, resulting in further atomization leading to regional political paralysis.

(xi) The Yoruba Referendum resolves these and other issues. The result of the Referendum will become the political solution as it will be the Legitimate and legal Yoruba “voice” aggregating of our political demands. It will also become a template for other Nationalities in Nigeria whose combined efforts will become the basis for the new Federal Constitution.

(xii) The Yoruba Referendum is a “YES” or “NO” vote on whether the Yoruba states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states should FEDERATE into a Region in a Federal Nigeria. This is a sine qua nonfor any form of Yoruba Leadership as well as any engagement with Nigeria and the outside world, especially considering the atomization of Yorubaland and the consequent impact of not having the Center of Gravity of our political processes in our land.

(xiii) A “YES” vote would be the solution to the organizational conundrum, because it will lead to the establishment of a Constitutional Commission whose members will include Yoruba from Kwara and Kogi States and which “shall be vested with powers to present and represent the views of Western/Oduduwa Region and negotiate on behalf of the Western/Oduduwa Region(including the Yoruba in Kwara and Kogi States) with all the agencies of the Nigerian Government, non-Governmental organizations and the international Community involved in the process”.

(xiv) The answer to the Leadership question, therefore, is the Constitutional Commission, arrived at, through the instrumentality of the Yoruba Referendum, which will become the Legitimate “Yoruba Voice”, the new Yoruba Leadership because it will be established by Law, thereby reducing, or eliminating contestations for Leadership representations or ascriptions and foreclose the various diversions, in their different dimensions, currently bedeviling Yorubaland.

(xv) It will be Legally empowered and bound to, and by, the Annexure to the Referendum Law, to wit: 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. Western/Oduduwa Region shall be a Constituent Unit of the Nigerian Union. Western/Oduduwa Region shall adopt a Parliamentary System of government. 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. 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. 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. Western/Oduduwa Region shall have its own internal security system. Each Constituent Unit of the Nigerian Federation shall control primary interest in its own resources with an agreed Tax Model for the Federation.

(xvi) With this, the Yoruba will be rendering a service of historic proportions, becoming a beacon for not only other Nationalities in Nigeria but also the rest of Africa where comparable Nationality questions exist and has led to continuous wars and conflicts. This pathwaywill aid in the resolution of such conflicts.

Editorial Board,
YorubaReferendum Committee