The Yoruba Standpoint, a South West summit on restructuring, held Thursday at Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State.
The summit had in attendance prominent political, traditional, religious and professional Yoruba leaders. It also had in attendance some representatives from the South-South and South East invited to participate, with the North visibly absent from deliberate exclusion by the organizers.
Some of the foremost participants include, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi.
Others are, Aare Afe Babalola, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Olu Falae, Dr. Olu Olajide, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, and Dr Tokunbo Ajasin.
The summit also featured Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Yinka Odumakin, Chief Osinbogun, Otunba Gani Adams, Chief Ade Ojo, Sen Ike Nwachukwu, and Chief John Nwodo.
Curiously, All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors in the region, including the Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, and prominent leaders of Yoruba extraction were missing.
Recall that the summit which was announced on September 3 by the secretary of the planning committee, Yinka Odumakin, had been said to represent a strategic effort towards unifying the zone on the important issue of restructuring regardless of party affiliation.
Odumakin had also stated that the north was not included in its special invitation to non-South West leaders because it had not gotten invitation from the region in the past.
He had said that invitation was specifically sent to all Yoruba-speaking areas in the country and other zones like the South East and South-South.
The Afinifere chieftain had revealed that invitations had gone out to the six state governors, National Assembly members, elders, opinion leaders and groups.
He said, “Massive Mobilisation has commenced in Yoruba-speaking areas of Nigeria with our governors, National Assembly members, opinion leaders, various groups, individuals and the rest of them. We have commenced this process to ensure we have an all-inclusive summit where all opinions will be represented and since we are talking about Yoruba affirming its joint position on the most popular issue in Nigeria today, which is restructuring of the polity, the Yoruba summit is across board”.
Odumakin revealed that, “aside from Yoruba within the South west, we have also extended invitation to Ohanaeze Ndigbo, we have also invited PANDEF to come and show solidarity with us at the summit.
He said the North was left out because, “we have not received any invitation from the north in the past”.
“The major goal of the Yoruba summit is to articulate our position, unify our thoughts on the restructuring debate so that henceforth, we will have a position of the Yoruba and all groups and individual shall speak from the same page. That is the goal of the summit.
“Our expectation is to have a robust gathering where issues will be articulated, a position taken and from there, we will negotiate with other regions in the country”, Odumakin concluded.
Some analysts will not be surprised by the exclusion of the North from the summit, as they would argue that historically, it had been the region opposed to the restructuring of the country because of perceived threat to its interests should Nigeria be restructured.
The summit was attended by Yoruba people from the six south-west states as well as from Kwara and Kogi states.
A communique issued at the end of the deliberations, recalled with nostalgia, “the great strides made by the Yoruba nation in the years of self-government up until the abrogation of the federal constitution in 1966 evident in mass literacy, novel infrastructural strides and giant leaps in all spheres of human development”.
It also noted that “the crisis of over-centralization has led to mass misery across the country with poverty levels at 72%, unemployment rate at 65% internal immigration and internal displacement, security threat in form of Boko Haram, herdsmen and organized crime”.
The summit also lamented that Nigeria is careering dangerously to the edge of the slope except urgent steps are taken to restructure the country from a unitary constitution to a federal constitution as negotiated by its founding fathers at independence in 1960.
The communique further resolved “That Nigeria must return to a proper federation as obtained in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions. This has been our position since 1950 Ibadan conference and developments in Nigeria over the last fifty years reinforce our conviction.
“That Yoruba are clear that restructuring does not mean different things to different people other than that a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria can only know real peace and development if it is run ONLY along federal lines.
“That the greatest imperatives of restructuring Nigeria is to move from a rent-seeking and money sharing anti-development economy to productivity by ensuring that the federating units are free to own and develop their resources. They should pay agreed sums to the federation purse to implement central services.
“That the federating units- whether states, zones or regions must themselves be governed by written constitution to curb impurity at all levels.
“Nigeria shall be a federation comprised of six regions and the federal capital Territory, Abuja.
“The Federal Government shall make laws and only have powers in relation to items specified on the legislative list contained in the constitution of the Federation.
“The Regions shall in turn be composed as states.
“Each Regions shall have its own constitution containing enumerated exclusive and concurrent legislative lists regarding matters upon which the regions and the states may act or legislate.
“Contiguous territories, ethnic nationalities or settlement shall be at liberty through a plebiscite, to elect to be part of any contiguous region other than the region in which the current geo-political zone or state boundaries places them.
“States as presently comprised in the geo-political zones into which they fall, which shall become regions, shall continue to exercise the executive, legislative and judicial functions currently exercised at that level of government”.
On management of resources, the communique stated that “States shall be entitled to manage all resources found within their boundaries and the revenue accuring therefrom. The issue of the entitlement of littoral states to offshore resources and the extension of such rights from the continental shelf and rights accuring to the federal government shall be determined by the national assembly.
“The sharing ration of all revenues raised by means of taxation shall be 50% to the states, 35% to the regional government and 15% to the government of the federation”.
The communique was signed by Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) Summit Chairman, and Dr. Kunle Olajide, Chairman Planning Committee
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