By Voice of Reason
Events happening within the South West of Nigeria have shown that the Yoruba have become an endangered species in Nigeria, a country they invested their sweat and blood to achieve independence for, in 1960.
Since 1947 till date, the Yoruba have responded to the surreptitious, premeditated and relentless pursuit of dominance over all other Nigerians by a small group of oligarchs, by commending to all Nigerians the virtues of collective, inclusive, self-reliant and self-governing federating units to manage our diversity as a true Federation. We believe that the best route to a stable and productive democratic Federation for the Nation is one in which none of its federating units seeks primacy over others.
The Yoruba Nation is the only region of the three initial federating regions at independence that up to date has never sought secession. The gathering storm articulated in calls for secession among a people who hitherto accepted being in opposition, and who when presented with opportunities to be part of government at the centre insisted instead on terms that would be in the best interest of the entire nation rather than opting for the opportunism of predatory participation, is incontrovertible evidence that the Nigerian contraption as presently operated as a Unitary system is neither viable nor sustainable.
The emergence of Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was achieved with the active collaboration of the ‘Yoruba Mainstream’, predicated on the covenant he made to restructure Nigeria. This was after his hitherto unprecedented losing streak in three successive presidential elections.
However, after assuming office, everything has been done to decimate the Yoruba and other indigenous nations; to impede their growth and checkmate their advancement socially, politically and economically. With skewed appointments, we can only play along with this long term surreptitious agenda at our own peril.
Most Nigerians, just like those in Voice of Reason, had hoped that when the president eventually spoke, it would light up the darkness presently enveloping Nigeria. When he eventually bared his mind, first pretending not to understand Restructuring and secondly, to consign the aspirations of other nationalities to the whim and caprices of members of the National Assembly, it was a great disappointment as well as an eye opener. The 1999 Constitution that was foisted on everyone by the military. The votes of the Yoruba representatives along with those of others in the South and Middle Belt do not count on the floor of the National Assembly because of a preconceived gerrymandered lopsidedness, favouring some over the collective interests of all others.
Consequently, two tendencies have emerged in the Yoruba Nation:
The first tendency are those who are optimistic that reason, common sense and patriotism would prevail, on all sides, and lead to negotiated talks to reconfigure Nigeria toward devolution of powers to geopolitical zones or regional ethnic nationalities.
The second and more recent strand of opinion have come to the conclusion that an outright separation has become existentially necessary. That the Yoruba peoples of Nigeria, in order to survive, will have to exercise the self-determination option with the end goal of birthing a separate nation out of Nigeria.
With the continuing unabashed implementation of the said agenda of President Buhari’s administration, these two tendencies will invariably coalesce into a unified goal for “self-government for the Yoruba Nation as soon as practicable”.
We note and applaud the recent constructive articulation by retired military officer, Colonel Abubakar Umar. No part of Nigeria is at peace. Bandits are having a field day in the North West, Boko Haram and ISWAP have created a caliphate in parts of the North East and have gone as far as installing a governor. Herdsmen are on the rampage in the whole of the South. Surely, this was not the dream of our forefathers and is not what we, collectively, wish to bequeath to our children.
If you do not know where you are going, at least you know from whence you came. Yoruba remember the era when the Western Region attained Self-Government in 1954 with the attendant progress and prosperity and the dream of a better future. Nigeria under President Buhari has turned into a nightmare for all indigenous peoples. The economy is in tatters, the country is debt-ridden to the extent of spending over 90% of its revenue on debt servicing even as more debt is proposed. There is no guarantee of the sanctity of Life and Property whilst Pursuit of Happiness, for the generality of the people, is unattainable. Even the Commander in Chief himself has urged persons to defend themselves.
Recently, the DSS executed an illegal midnight attack on the home of Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho in the Yoruba heartland that resulted in the death of two innocent citizens of Nigeria with the obvious intent to silence the renowned Yoruba freedom fighter. All right-thinking persons have condemned this descent into despotism. One can see the abysmal level to which the country has sunk. This is provocative and unacceptable to the Yoruba.
We commend the uniform approach of the Governors of the Southern states against the backdrop, onslaught and dereliction of duty by the Federal Government. We encourage them to invite their counterparts in the Middle Belt, who also bear the brunt of the rampaging ethnic-cleansing militia, for a unified approach.
We note their carefully worded communique but urge better clarity in order to carry the populace along. It is confusing advocating federalism or devolution of powers, praising the passage of the mutilated PIB and 2023 presidency in the same breath. This is not the time for politicking.
In view of the foregoing, and in accord with the recent decision by the leaders of Niger Delta Region as conveyed by the Communique issued at the end of their June 25, 2021 meeting held at Port Harcourt, we also hereby call for a Consultative Forum of ‘willing’ Ethnic Nationalities to be held and concluded before October 01, 2021. The objective would be the negotiation of whatever residual relations is left between and among the peoples of Nigerian territory. The Forum should be structured to accommodate the representatives of any Nigerian nationality that is willing to attend.
All hands are to be on deck in the four regions to work, in concert, to extricate our peoples from the grips of those that are beholden to a medieval culture and way of life. Based on the above stipulations, it is hereby proposed that the ethnic nationalities in the South-West (SW), Middle Belt (MB), South-East (SE) and South-South (SS) territories commence lawful activities to the exercising of their inherent sovereignty powers by immediately starting the process that would assert their rights to self-determination and self-government.
In June 2018, VOR produced and published a draft constitution that has all the features of the best possibilities for a federal governance framework. It painstakingly synthesize all issues upon which a consensus can be built ranging from principles derived from 1963, 1979, 1999 constitutions and the agreements embodied in the 2014 Conference report. A document therefore already exists which can be used to reconfigure the political architecture of Nigeria. Adopting a document such as this is critical at this stage, otherwise there would be nothing to hold on to, as we slide into ultimate disintegration.
In the event that the above call for constitutional talks is futile, the quest for our freedom shall commence in earnest. All legal and civilized processes to extricate the Yoruba Nation from the grip of the subsisting inequitable regime will be applied.
Our final message is to our compatriots who are occupiers of political offices under the current regime and others in the dominant parties who intend to waste resources on another bid to be favoured with crumbs i.e tickets to contest the 2023 elections. The political parties have a timeless and do-nothing agenda that is patently obvious to the blind. The new Electoral Act with allegedly rigged provisions that are discordant to transparency and the bizarre allocation of polling units. We note and warn of the advent of another Maradonic era that culminated in the debacle and destruction of the unfulfilled MKO Abiola election.
Without the restructuring of Nigeria, the quest for another round of elections based on the 1999 constitution is a ruse of epic proportions. It will be a tragedy to be fooled once again.
VOR (Voice of Reason) is an Intelligentsia Group of Emininient Yoruba Sons and Daughters