Addressing the Nigerian Community in Paris, France, Muhammadu Buhari was reported to have said the following:
“There are too many people talking lazily about restructuring in Nigeria. Unfortunately, people are not asking them individually what do they mean by restructuring? What form do they want restructuring to take? Do they want us to have something like the three regions we used to have? And now we have 36 states and the FCT. What form do they want? They are just talking loosely about restructuring. Let them define it and then we see how we can peacefully do it in the interest of Nigerians. They are just saying they want Nigeria restructured and they don’t have the clue of what the form the restructuring should be. So, anybody who talks to you about restructuring in Nigeria, ask him what he means and the form he wants it to take”.
We need not belabor ourselves on this patently false statement; for evidence abound as to how various groups and individuals have clearly defined what they mean by Restructuring; all anchored on ensuring Nigeria is a truly Federal Union or a Federation of Nationalities, these being the Constituent Units of the country, even as characterized territorially as Regions, Zones or Nationalities.
From the Niger Delta and “Resource Control” to the Igbo/East and their rejection of “feeding bottle Federalism”, subscribed to by various Igbo groups to the Igala preference for their own “state”, to the Yoruba with their demands for True Federalism and the Movement for National Re-Formation’s 18-Region Structure, to some Northerners’ preference for a return to the 12-state structure etc— all have shown that these are not “loose talk” about Restructuring but a comprehensive understanding of the Nigerian problematic with a “clue as to what form” its resolution should take; for, embedded in the demands is the form it should take.
Moreover, his own Party, the APC, set up a Committee on Restructuring and received various memos towards that end. The challenge, now, is what Muhammadu Buhari referred to as “how we can peacefully do it in the interest of Nigerians”. Of course, the notion of Restructuring itself is in the interest of Nigerians, for it strikes at the heart of the Nigerian problematic.
What then is this peaceful way out?
To avoid a moral and political dilemma that will arise from having those to be elected based on the 1999 Constitution and an Administration emerging from such an election turning around to repudiate the Constitution under which they are elected and swear to uphold, it will be necessary to ratify a New Federal Constitution before any elections.
This can be achieved through a postponement of the February 2019 Elections for 6 months with the intervening period used to organize Referendums by and within the Constituent Units, for these issues are a matter of long-standing conversations within the Constituent Units, whose outcome can only be decided by a Referendum within.
The results of these Referendums will serve two purposes: the foundation for the Constitutions of the Constituent Units and the basis for a New Constitution for a Federal Nigeria, which will itself be subject to a country-wide Referendum. The responsibility is now on the Regions/Zones/Nationalities to demand for, and work towards conducting their Referendums and President Muhammadu Buhari must respond.
Egbe Omo Oduduwa already published, “The Yoruba Manifesto: What We Want; What We Believe” and is repeated below. Its contents will assist in determining the questions to be posed in a Yoruba Regional Referendum.
(1) The history of Africa since the Independence era of the 60s is a history of attempts at consolidating the Colonial Nation State which sought to homogenize the Cultures and Nationalities into its own paradigm by forcing the different Nationalities and Cultures into its version of the Nation-State without the influence of these different Cultures on the architecture of State and which has only succeeded in causing wars and violence between and among the different Nationalities and Cultures. This raises the fundamental question as to whether an abundance of dysfunctional post-colonial states as conceived by the colonial powers and anchored on the Balkanization of the various Peoples of Africa into these post-colonial countries, can develop an enduring political and economic philosophy for development of the global African Peoples.
(2) Nigeria, and other African post-colonial Nation-States exist in contradiction to the right and consequently the ability of the Nationalities to maintain their God-assigned Identity rendering them completely dependent on international political and economic forces responsible for our colonization without any philosophy of engagement that will address disparities between the Nation-State and its international sponsors and within the Nation-State itself thus living out the reality expected by colonialism while negating the existential expectations of the Nationality. The post-colonial Nation-State is parasitic on the God-given natural resources of the geo-political space leading to the non-utilization of these resources to develop any meaningful human resource or capacity thus becoming the backdrop for corruption and causing massive exodus of human capital glamorized as remitters of foreign exchange back into the country with no impact on human and material productivity.
(3) Reversing this trend is therefore a necessity for Africa; Nigeria, in the present circumstances provide the best example of how this is to be achieved, more so when “Restructuring” has assumed a primary place in Nigeria’s political firmament. For the Yoruba Nation and People who also extend beyond Nigeria’s shores, it is imperative that our existential paradigms become embedded in our Geo-political existence within the Nigerian Nation State.
(4) Yoruba Historical and Cultural Identity played a major part in the developmental efforts of the then Western Region which allowed us to refer to the period as our “Golden Era” and from which all references to our development derive. This is despite the subversion of the Western Region by the NPC/NCNC Alliance in the First Republic via the attempted 1961 neutralization of the economic and financial center of Western Regional Development, the National Bank; the illegal and Unconstitutional Declaration of the 1962 State of Emergency; the bypassing of the Regional Parliament in creating the Mid-West Region in 1963, even as the West was the only advocate of creating more Regions in the country; the subterranean creation of 12 States, based on a supposed war imperative but which ended up neutralizing the combined development of the Region; the taking over of the University of Ife in 1975; the Land Use Decree/Act in 1978/79; the introduction of a Presidential System of Government in 1978; the eradication of the Marketing Boards in favor of a centralized Structural Adjustment Program in 1988; all the way to the present, where our rivers and waterways are being centralized; attempts being made to establish centrally-funded cattle ranches all over the country in aid of Fulani cattle business; placing the State Legislatures under the control of the National Assembly along with so many other examples, all point in the direction of alienating the Yoruba from our God-given Identity as a Nation-in-itself.
(5) It is recognized that the above are specific to the Yoruba Nation. Other Nationalities have experienced similar alienation in different forms, all of which make it imperative for the all the Nationalities to have as much Autonomy in their Geo-Political territories as a Truly Federal arrangement would demand.
What We Want:
(a) A Federal Nigeria, through a 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.
(b) YORUBALAND, Geo-politically known as the ODUDUWA REGION and consisting of the present states of Ekiti, Eko, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and all Oodua lands in Kwara, Kogi, Edo and Delta States to become an AUTONOMOUS Nation in a UNION OF NIGERIAN CONSTITUENT NATIONALITIES and recognizing all persons in the Diaspora, of African descent who claim Oduduwa/Yoruba ancestry, either through cultural affiliation or genealogical connection .
(c) 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.
(d) 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.
(e) ODUDUWA Region shall adopt a Parliamentary System of government. This Parliament shall have the power to make laws governing taxes, duties, excise, payment of debt, etc It shall have the power to make laws governing the sourcing of funds on behalf of the Region and to regulate commerce with the co-prosperity spheres within the Union of Nigeria. This Parliament shall have the power to establish Regional Police Service with responsibility to investigate Regional crimes. This Police Service shall have no superintending control over the Provincial and Council Police service, but shall coordinate activities at the Regional, Provincial and Local council levels.
(f) The Judicial power of the Region shall be vested in the Supreme Court, 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.
(g) Oodua Customary forms of land ownership shall be respected. Exploitation of mineral resources shall be the prerogative of the host community without prejudice to the right of the Local, Provincial and Regional Governments to levy appropriate taxes for the welfare of the people of Oodua land and without prejudice to the right of the Federal Government to levy taxes.
What We Believe:
(6) We recognize the dispersal of the African Peoples from their God-given territories on the continent of Africa through early Arab Invasions, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, alongside voluntary and involuntary migrations out of the continent because of the failure of the various post-colonial African States to address existential problematics of the various African Peoples; we also recognize the immense contributions, in various fields and in the various Diasporas, of pioneers of African emancipation.
(7) Our God-given Identity is our Nationality and any form of political, economic and social formulation that will mediate the interrelationships within the Nationality and between Nationalities expressed as a Nation-State must involve the direct participation of the Nationalities making up such a Nation State, more-so when there are different existential realities between the Nationalities which the apparatus of the Nation-State seeks to mediate.
(8) In Nigeria, and the West (Yorubaland), the post-Independence Nation-State exist in contradiction to the right and consequently the ability of the Nationalities to maintain their God-assigned Identity thus denying the Nations the ability to pursue micro and macro-Economic policies that will result in the development of social and economic relationship between the various Nationalities within Nigeria and their Diaspora; for the Yoruba Nation, that will be Brazil, Cuba, the U.S, the West Indies and South America without the overriding legislative power of the Nigerian Union.
CONCLUSION: This Manifesto is presented to all candidates for the offices of the President, Governors, National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly as the minimum Yoruba National condition for “Constitutional Restructuring” of Nigeria and these candidates MUST PUBLICLY accede to the provisions. Rejection or deviation will be a negation of our Right to exist as an Autonomous Geo-political entity and signal the necessity for a Yoruba Referendum on our place in Nigeria.