Being the position paper of Yoruba groups towards achieving regional autonomy:
Regional Autonomy means…
a. Control of natural resources within the region.
b. Developing and establishing appropriate governance structure for the Region, and
c. Devolved authority, responsibilities and span of control to manage and ensure the sustenance of the region.
Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife [Okwadike] – former Governor of old Anambra State and a delegate at the 2014 National Conference in an interview with Newswatch on 12 May 2014 [Retrieved 12 May 2014, mydailynewswatchng.com] said: “The only zone that is very strong because of their rationality is the South-West. Even if others do not embark on federating unit based on zones, the South-West is going to have their region intact economically; then, they will develop, progress, grow and every part of Nigeria would be envious of the region. It is the decision they are taking now. Some people don‘t understand it. At least, they taught some of us, but it is the truth that I am saying now that the South-West will grow exponentially when regional government is adopted.”
Nigeria, as a nation, should therefore translate to:
a. A restructured country with Regional arrangements via the consolidation of the current unviable thirty six  states. The consolidation would be based on the congregation of nations and affiliate groups with common and historic affinities and who enjoy territorial contiguity borders. Any ethnic group or groups within a state wishing to align with any other state or to belong to a new Region shall be allowed to do so if confirmed in a plebiscite by the affected people. For instance, Yoruba people in Edo, Kogi and Kwara states.
b. The Regions exercising all powers not expressly ceded to the central government. As such, the federal constitution will contain only one legislative list – the Exclusive Legislative List – that shall detail the powers and responsibilities to be exercised by the central government.
c. Each Region having its constitution, which will reflect its peculiarities, circumstances and preferences that shall not be inconsistent with the constitution of the Nigerian Federation.
d. All tiers and structures of government below the Regional level prescribed in the Regional constitution, and should not be the concern of the Federal Government. The present state governments will be retained within the new Regional framework and local government councils would be accommodated with law enacted, in each Region, prescribing their structure, composition, roles and purposes, finance and administration.
Our stance as Yoruba people
This submission represents the culmination of efforts and ideas which have been canvassed in the Yoruba landscape since the agitation for a return to true federalism, led by those seeking a solution to the perennial crisis of governance in Nigeria. These positions were reinforced at the 2014 Yoruba Constitutional Conferences of February 12 and 20 respectively, at the House of Chiefs, Secretariat of Oyo State Government, Ibadan. The conference had in attendance Yoruba organisations and prominent sons and daughters of Yoruba extraction. The positions is also been detailed in the publication – Yoruba Agenda.
WHAT YORUBA PEOPLE WANT…OUR IRREDUCIBLE MINIMUM
The Yoruba democratic objective is to secure an abundant life and peaceful existence for all our people, and to preserve the liberty and rights of citizens of our region. These include:
– the right to freely elect our representatives in an atmosphere of freedom and civility
– the right to religious worship and practices
– the right to reject any form of oppression, and
– the right to legislate for the common good and wellbeing of our people and our nation.
The Yoruba aim is to be partners in the creation of a state where the citizens are recognized by the government and the government serves the interests of the citizens (Folorunsho, 2014).
For us Yoruba people, we demand Regional Autonomy for the South-West Region within a united Nigeria. Yoruba people will effectively communicate to all other ethnic nationalities an understanding of the aims and objectives of the Yoruba people in the following contexts of:
A YORUBA PEOPLE – Cultural/Language Homogeneity
A YORUBA REGION – States/Geographic Zone and
A YORUBA NATION – A shared vision (Yoruba Agenda, 2012).
The YORUBA PEOPLE OF NIGERIA hereby make the following demands:
a. Regionalism: a restructured Nigeria federation consisting of a Central Government and Regional governments of other ethnic nationalities – this could be based on the current six geopolitical zones. The South-West Region must include all Yoruba people outside the imposed artificial boundaries, in Edo, Delta, Kogi and Kwara states.
b. A negotiated legislative Exclusive, Concurrent and Residual list
d. A parliamentary form of government at the centre
e. The right to self determination on and up to the right to secede
f. A just and equitable taxation system that will treat the federating units with equality and better coordination at the federal level in order to eliminate the current rentier syndrome.
g. Fiscal Federalism and Resource Control: a system whereby a substantial part of the proceeds accruable from every Region will be domiciled in the Region and an agreed percentage contributed to the center by the federating units for the responsibility of the Federal government.
h. Establishment of Regional Police
i. A new people‘s constitution: the resolutions and conclusions of the 2014 National Conference shall lead to an autochthonous Constitution, that is a home-grown and all inclusive draft that shall be submitted to the Nigerian electorate voting in a Referendum
j. Status of Lagos: Lagos will continue to be the economic nerve centre of Nigeria and the West African sub-Region, hence, there shall be an appropriate budgetary provision that is part of the First Line Charge in the Federation Account.
―Unity is a derivative, it is not a goal…it is an aberration to talk of unity in a federation…we do not need unity to be in a federal arrangement…all we need is an agreement between the federating
units… (Views expressed by Prof Ayoade & Prof Ariyo at a policy discussion at Yoruba Academy, 9 April)
PREFACE & PURPOSE
In the beginning, there was no Nigeria. There were ethnic nationalities and Kingdoms. Prior to the British conquest and invasion of the different ethnic nationalities that make up the present day Nigeria, these nations were independent nation states [Sagay, 2011]. Hence, there is a need to revisit what was agreed at the various constitutional conferences that led to the First Republic and Nigeria‘s independence in 1960. Knowledge of this would re-awaken a better understanding of the arrangements agreed to by ethnic nationalities that led to the emergence of Nigeria as a federated nation.
This forced marriage of diverse ethno-national groups has produced tension and difficult moments for the country, Nigeria. The next step in charting a course for the future is to safeguard the destiny of the Yoruba people, and reconstruct the Nigerian federation. This is the first intent of this publication, that is, a revisit and reinstating of the agenda of the Yoruba people…what Yoruba people want.
While Yoruba people do not ask other ethnic nationalities to change their focus, we also expect others to refrain from imposing their own goals and values on Yoruba people [Yoruba Agenda, 2012] – all ethnic nationalities can co-exist in Nigeria so long as there are mutual respect for each other‘s positions, as everyone has a right to decide to live within or outside of Nigeria. A recent publication, titled “Key issues before the Northern delegates to the 2014 National Conference,” where the North claims to be …the backbone and strength of Nigeria necessitated a strategic appraisal and response. This is the second intent of this publication – it is the need to employ an evidenced-based methodology to address and correct an attempt by a section of Nigeria to distort history and repaint the existential context of Nigerians.
The Northern reasoning – in the publication – can be summed up as; Nigeria is two countries of Northern and Southern Nigeria, oil exploration in the Niger Delta was financed by Northern groundnut proceeds and the North feeds the rest of the South with daily supplies of cows…therefore the North is equally entitled to Niger Delta oil proceeds as the Niger Deltans themselves (Sagay, 2014).
The North‘s obsession with revenue sharing and the proceeds of oil, exposed a jaundiced vision of the developmental aspiration of a people. The publication also exposed some inherent contradictions in thoughts, for example a claim that …Nigeria is de facto two countries of Northern and Southern Nigeria… (Chap 7, Sec 1.1, p. 32). Hence, there is an acute need to demonstrate that Nigeria is NOT just North and South, the North, as defined and described in the publication, ceased to exist the day Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.) created 12 Nigerian States in 1967…the North is NOT 80% of the Nigerian land mass, as claimed by this publication.
Assertions of this nature are clear indications that Nigeria is still searching for an answer to the National Question, which defines how Nigerians should live together as a nation. At the heart of solving this therefore, is the adoption of a widely acceptable structure of government, to which everyone could identify with. This is the third intent of this publication – explicating policy positions that defines and describes how Nigeria should be structured and governed.
Nigeria – Information Data
Table 1 is extracted from the publication – “Key issues before the Northern delegates to the 2014 National Conference.” The data stated are erroneous and ignores the legitimacy of other geo- political zones/arrangements.
Table 2 provides a detailed analysis of Nigeria information data [Yoruba Academy, May 2014].
Table 1: Nigeria Information Data Source: “Key issues before the Northern delegates to the 2014 National Conference.”
Table 2: Nigeria Information Data
Analysis by: Yoruba Academy, May 2014
– The numbers of languages in Nigeria are 529, of these, 7 are extinct. Of the living languages, 21 are institutional, 76 are developing, 357 are vigorous, 26 are in ‗trouble, and 42 are dying. [Ethnologue, 2014]
– A total of 43 languages are been shared by more than one Region
Aluko, Mobolaji E. 2011. Voters‘ registration by state. Created on 06 March 2011 web: Nigeria Village Square, INEC 2 Nigerian Population Commission. 2006. Population, landmass, density); NPC Report, 1991 and Field Reports INEC. Retrieved 2014. LG, federal constituencies, senatorial districts: election candidates 2011. Ethnologue.com. 2014. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Seventeenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version
YORUBA…OUR CONTEXT AS A PEOPLE
Yoruba people developed one of the most sophisticated and well-balanced political and governance systems in the world, from the 10th century on – a political system based on the sovereignty of the people, with strong dedication to the dignity of life, human freedom, and accountability in leadership and governance. This was confirmed in Report 1114 – the 1921 Annual Colonial Report on Nigeria by the British, when it states that ‗…the Yoruba occupy the South-West corner of Nigeria and from an early date possessed an organized government‘ [p.3].
During a brief period of our modern history, our modern leaders, authentic products of our history and culture, under the exceptional leadership of our topmost statesman of the time – Chief Obafemi Awolowo – served the Yoruba people with the very best government in the whole of Africa. Under their leadership, the Western Region became the pace-setter in virtually all aspects of modern development. As examples, the Region developed programmes that empowered Yoruba people to become some of the most productive in Africa. The Region became ―First in Africa [Oodua Foundation, 2014]. As a people, the
Yoruba were and are still absolutely set on accomplishing greater things. Our firm belief as a people is that we can still do it any time we set our hearts and hands to it [Oodua Foundation, 2014].
Our obstacle is Nigeria…
The current Nigeria is not oriented towards development, progress or prosperity. Nigeria now tends towards the maximization of power by the federal establishment. As a result, authority and control in Nigeria have been accumulated in the confines of the Federal Government. Nigeria, a country of different nations, has reduced the governments of the states of the Nigerian Federation to the level of impotency and incapability. These have stunted the growth and development of the states and their citizens.
Yoruba people aspire for development and the well being of its people noting the potentials and attainment of the South West, despite the limiting environment called Nigeria.
The South-West of Nigeria is a Region with…
A landmass of approximately 80,000 square kilometers and a current  estimated population of 40 million people – more populous than:
•20 countries in Europe – Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Demark, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland;
•41 countries in Africa – Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe;
•17 countries in the Americas – Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El-Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela;
•13 countries in the Middle East – Bahrain, Brunei, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirate and Yemen; and 6 countries of Asia – Cambodia, North Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Taiwan [Yoruba Agenda, 2012].
Unique geography, competencies and resources and is positioned as the hub of development and growth of Nigeria into the 22nd Century
The foremost urban civilization in Black Africa. Our first town, Ile-Ife, was built in the early 10th Century, during the European ―Dark Age when most of Europe had no towns, with a level of urbanisation more advanced than that of the countries of Europe in the same period (Oodua Foundation, 2014).
One of the fastest growing economic blocs in Nigeria and the world, with a combined GDP of $69.1billion, constituting 25.3% of the national GDP (2012 estimates) and a GDP per capita of $11,341 – a gross Regional output that grew the most in 2012 with an absolute nominal increase of 21.8% nominal growth – compared to 16.38% in the North West, 14.27% in North Central, 10.89% in the South East, 8.19% in the North East and -1.69% in the South-South, Over 60% of Nigeria‘s industrial capacity and approximately 60% of the country‘s banking assets plus 67% of its insurance assets…Two of Nigeria‘s most important deep seaports – Lagos Port Complex, Apapa & Tin Can Island – handling over 100 million tonnes of goods p.a. valued at an estimated $2b in 2012, alongside its profitable land borders that accounts for 60% of the trading and commercial activities in Nigeria The most performing non-oil sectors of the economy, which include telecommunications [32%], building and construction [12.5%], solid minerals [12.5%], hotel and restaurants [12.5%], real estate [10.4%] and business services [9.7%]…A financial services infrastructure that includes 22 national commercial banking institutions, 20 finance companies, 20 primary mortgage institutions, 2 merchant banks, 20 micro-finance banks and 5 development finance institutions, with extensive network of branches, and most significant operations in Nigeria. These institutions command money assets to the tune of N6.4 billion [May 2013]
One of the fastest growing economies in the world, of comparative size to other national economies. For instance, Lagos State produces about 12% of Nigeria‘s GDP, which is equivalent to almost $32billion [according to the 2013 estimates], making it Africa‘s 13th largest economy ahead of Tanzania
Great tourism potentials due to the peculiarity of its history and distinct geography, and capabilities in ICT and other skilled professions
The most conducive and safest part of the country for investors and visitors. Of the top 20 cities that McKinsey has identified as growth hot spots for companies targeting young, entry level consumers, Lagos and Ibadan are included in the list, alongside other urban centres such as Dar Es Salaam, Ouagadougou, Kampala and Lusaka.
A competitive advantage that is leveraged on its strategic assets of a unique communality of language, customs and culture among its peoples; a demography consisting of an exceptionally youthful population; huge human and material resources including a large knowledgeable Diaspora; vast tracts of arable agricultural land, renewable water resources, and the presence of extensive mineral deposits, such as hydrocarbons, etc. [Source: DAWN Commission, 2012].
The unfettered autonomy to develop the Yoruba Nation as a federating unit in Nigeria is the only factor that is missing in efforts to industrialise our Region. All the ingredients for socio-economic development are present in Yoruba land and the question of viability and sustainability does not arise [Yoruba Agenda, 2012]
Therefore…for Yoruba people, it is REGIONAL AUTONOMY…OR NOTHING!
THE 2014 NATIONAL CONFERENCE TO DATE…
Revisiting the need for a national conversation…
As a nation, we must talk.
The clamour for a national dialogue among Nigeria‘s over 250 ethnic nationalities has been as old as the country itself. This became more popular after the first military coup in 1966. The imperative for a National Conference as a necessary discussion over Nigeria‘s future has been firmly established and constantly agitated for by many, especially we the Yoruba people. This national discussion is meant to be the laxative to corruption, ethnic chauvinism, conflict and perversion of the rule of law – all of which have stifled economic development, social harmony and the forging of a collective Nigerian identity.
Therefore, there is no doubt that there is need for consensus among the country‘s distinct ethnic groups on critical national and governance issues such as the structure and form of government, revenue allocation, and political representation. Haven established an acute need to restructure Nigeria; a national conference cannot and should not be about what is least disruptive in our discourse of Nigeria‘s future [Ariyo, 2014]. The question is whether the 2014 National Conference, with its prescribed modality, is capable of addressing Nigeria‘s perennial existential problems.
This is why Yoruba people are revisiting the debate. The 2014 National Conference must be a discourse aimed at inclusive nation-building. Yoruba people will not be part of a charade that will not create the needed national consensus on key issues in the country. The conference must be markedly different from previous ones. The 2014 National Conference must emerge with outcomes that must be enduring solutions to perennial and contentious national issues.
The 2014 National Conference…to date…
The conference commenced against a backdrop of pervasive cynicism about the real intentions of the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and serious doubts about the leadership‘s capacity – implying a requirement of personal strength of character and political clout, to deliver the radical restructuring that are necessary to resolve the fundamental problem of the legitimacy of the Nigeria Project.
Despite these thoughts and views, it was rightly decided that a strong presence of South West delegates are required at the conference to advocate a radical restructuring of Nigeria. Optimists perceived the conference as a golden opportunity to undertake a holistic transformation of the federation, to realign its structures, and commence the institution of attitudinal changes necessary to locate Nigeria on a trajectory of political stability and economic development.
However, the first two weeks of the National Conference was expended on debating the President‘s speech. This appeared a delay tactics and red herring. From a security intelligence perspective, it also created an opportunity for the system to enable the delegates to espouse their stance, views and
positions and for the delegates to be profiled based on these. The Emir of Adamawa‘s submission on the floor of the National Conference on 27 March 2014 signalled some of the North‘s intent which has been suggested to be blackmailing the nation to submission, resulting in the retention of the status quo.
It has been well argued that a multi-cultural and multi-lingual country needs, at the very least, a federal system of government if it is to achieve any measure of economic, social and political development [Awolowo, later conceptualized as ‗cultural democracy‘ in Sekoni, 2013, p.37]. However, signals emerging from the on-going national conference indicate a resistance to the radical restructuring of the country to consolidate the nation‘s unwieldy and unsustainable political structures. This will invariably slow the potentials in Regional Integration – a model that enhances the capacities of the consolidated entities to undertake meaningful integrated planning and development along geo-regional and ethnic nationality lines.
This direction of travel is a rejection of the imperative for a profound realignment of and political restructuring of the nation by the consolidation of the unwieldy and unsustainable 36 state structure into six geo-regional political arrangement. With this impending outcome, the 2014 National Conference appears to have entrenched the very logic of operations that has brought Nigeria to the precipice.
The South West is committed to the consolidation of the 36 state structures into a Regional structure. This is what is in the best interest of Nigeria and the people of each Region. The South West is reaffirming and rededicating itself to this principle. Any attempt to only tinker with the splintering of Nigeria [for instance, the recommendation to create an additional state in the South East] will only entrench a logic that has proven deleterious for Nigeria‘s political and economic development. Its implications would be felt on all other critical dimensions of Nigeria‘s over-centralised governance; in resource mobilisation and revenue sharing formula, in the continued concentration of the national security in federal hands; in impeding integrated planning for socio-economic development along Regional lines.
The continuing structural imbalance of Nigeria is detrimental to the attainment of dynamic and progressive constituent units of the country and would continue to be an impediment to social and economic development of the South West, South South, South East and indeed the North. As a nation, there is the need to achieve a radical transformation of ‗Project Nigeria‘. Inherent in the emerging outcomes of the 2014 National Conference is the danger of exacerbating the problems of the more dynamic constituent sections of the country that are determined to join the global race for rapid transformations – such as the Yoruba people. Hence, Yoruba people would not be rail-roaded into endorsing premeditated outcomes that further undermine our development and the execution of laudable Regional developmental initiatives.
For Yoruba people, it is REGIONAL AUTONOMY…OR NOTHING!