Our Narrative of the current situation
That the Nigerian military would be initially created as a “Hausa” Constabulary, right inside Yorubaland, transitioning into the West African Volunteer Force and ultimately the Nigerian Armed Forces gave fillip to the Hausa-Fulani who rightly saw this development as a vindication if not outright support for its own imperialist designs on the rest of the country, particularly Yorubaland and which, of course, negated Yoruba self-determination. Pursuit of homogeneity, as a colonial imperative, thus became this army’s own imperative, whose mindset is not different from that of the colonizer, functioning as a colonial stabilizing force, trained to subjugate the “natives”, suppress the people and relate with them as a conquered specie and which was why the “Nigerian Army” never batted an eyelid when sent on such errands as very many examples in Nigeria show, most recently in the on-going “Operation Python Dance”.
This is also the army which some believed could be a veritable instrument for social transformation: that it is a “revolutionary force”. Many southerners, especially Easterners, joined the army in the belief that the institution would be the platform to launch any anti-colonial transformation in Nigeria. They consciously joined the army for that political purpose. Similarly, Northerners were deliberately conscripted into the same army in the belief that it is an institution that can guarantee their political power and control. So, two different, separate and contentious entities jostling for power based on the platform of the barrel of the gun became the driving force of the institution, a sure recipe for chaos, and which was not long in coming and which became a major part of the story of Nigeria till date.
This type of army cannot possibly be transformed into its opposite, the anti-thesis of colonialism unless its original intent was abolished such that it becomes a creation borne out of the “soul”, the essence of the society and which can only come from “within” the ethos of the Nation/People/Nationality.
Yet, the fundamental question as to whether a homogenized post-colonial state as conceived by the colonial powers can lay the foundation for an enduring political and economic philosophy for development for the global African Peoples remains yet to be answered, 60 years after formal Independence; for the post-colonial State spends its energy on sustaining the Balkanization of the various Peoples of Africa into these post-colonial countries and who are now caught up in a Crisis of Identity manifesting in the false dichotomy between the Citizen and the Indigene, when they are not mutually exclusive in a Multi-Lingual, Multi-Cultural entity; yet the homogenizing mission seeks to create and enforce this false dichotomy.
Whereas citizenship is merely a transient legal category, resulting from the form of State; Indigeneity is a God-given Identity expressed through our Nationality and any form of political, economic and social formulation that will mediate the interrelationships within the Nationality and between Nationalities expressed in the form of State must involve the direct participation of the Nationalities making up such a State, more-so when there are different existential realities between the Nationalities which the apparatus of State seeks to mediate. The Nigerian post-colonial State exist in contradiction to God-assigned Identity for the Nations, for, where, in Nigeria, there exist a Yoruba Indigene, there is no “Nigerian indigene”; only Nigerian citizens. Where there exist a Yoruba Nationality, there is no Nigerian Nationality, except in its political and legal meaning.
This is made explicit in the role of Language in development; where the various National Languages are consigned to cosmetic usages without their direct impact on the production and reproduction of knowledge capable of driving development in the society as had been shown by various studies.
Practical demonstrations include the effect of Bishop Crowther’s translation of the English Bible into Yoruba Language and its effects on the development of Yoruba Language just as Martin Luther’s translation of the New Testament into German Language became the foundation for German Nationhood. Professor Babs Fafunwa’s Ife Model School showed that those taught in the Yoruba Language, their Mother tongue, had better results than those taught in the English Language. Therefore, when Indigeneity is sacrificed for Citizenship, the immediate victim is the Language and by extension any future developmental capabilities of the People.
To avoid this reality, Nigeria attempts a homogenized “national” community devoid of the Nationality via the centralization and therefore the negation of all existential imperatives of the Nationality thereby nullifying the God-given Identity of the Nationalities as Nations-in-themselves; all of which are formalized through the military-created 1999 Constitution, a document falsely claiming to be drawn up by the People but existing only as an expression of negation of the existential expectations of the Nationality, hence the frequent resort to violent conflicts aimed at entrenching dominance of one hegemony over the other.
It is also 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 causing massive exodus of human capital glamorized as remitters of foreign exchange back into the country with no impact on productivity since the State, as a creation of colonialism, was and is not wired for such productivity; a fact which accounts for the State consuming over 70% of its revenue merely for its self-sustenance through the instrumentality of political and bureaucratic institutions.
The current quest for Restructuring, as an attempt at addressing these issues, glosses over the foundational and fundamental question of defining what Nigeria is, by assuming its homogenized existence rather than a multi-national entity, which will inform on the resolution of the question as to whether the solution is simply territorial or a Union of Nationalities; which had earlier exhibited as Federalism at Independence; more or less a Union of Nationalities, wherein the then Nigerian Federation was based on a union of two or more entities, reflecting a relationship between a “national” (center) arising from a negotiated agreement among the “sub-national” (Regional) entities and the relationship between the two. It must be noted that every Union or Federation in the world is based on a Union of Peoples which may now be administered either as states (as in the US), Regions as in Germany or Emirates as in UAE.
What Is To Be Done?
So, back to the question: Is there not a cause? Just as rebuilding the Temple became a cause for the returning captives, knowing its importance in the life and existence of the Nation of Israel and recorded in Ezra 3, Yoruba Christians cannot ignore the quest for a reversal of centralization and homogenization of the Peoples of Nigeria, as being canvassed by some Christians under the banner of non-negotiability of Nigeria’s unity; for, the Federalism championed by the Yoruba and which became the anti-colonial imperative, not only for the Yoruba but also for all the subject Peoples of all the colonies, had its historical roots in Yoruba existentialism as a collective of monarchies with their inter-relationships anchored on a central belief of having Ile-Ife as their source without disturbing their independence of thought and action, more so when the societies also developed certain social and cultural forms and morality, mediating the political, economic and social activities in the society.
In 1999, when the AD held sway in the entire Region, the opportunity to reverse centralization and homogenization was lost principally because the forces necessary to pursue this goal were unable to recognize their historical moment, despite Yorubaland holding the oppressive Nigerian State by the jugular at that point in time; they became lost in quests for electoral dominance through what is akin to a disorganized retreat from a position of strength, indicating an overall strategy that was not well thought out and to ascribe this to the “badness” of the human element is to wave a flag at the problem.
This failure made it impossible to create the political and programmatic space to meaningfully influence the political choices that were being made at the time, hence the ease with which political opportunists smuggled themselves into, and hijacked, the entire electoral process; which would have ended in a total disaster for the Yoruba Nation but for the direct intervention of a few political leaders in not only making necessary tactical choices but also ensuring that the land retained its historical momentum.
Now that it appears history is about to repeat itself, with Yorubaland under the dominance of one party, the APC, where is the Yoruba Christian in all of these?
This is the challenge posed by Christians for Yoruba Nation and Egbe Omo Oduduwa which opens an avenue for the manifestation of Isaiah 59:19 which says: “So shall they fear, the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun, when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him”. All that were stated earlier, taken collectively, constitute the coming of the enemy like a flood.
And the documents in pursuit of Federalism/Self-Determination for the Yoruba Nation, to wit, “The Yoruba Manifesto” “a letter to some politicians promising restructuring, and a “Bill for a Law for a Referendum” to be submitted to all the State Houses of Assembly when they are convened after the elections, constitute the standard lifted up.
Therefore, our expectations are very clear and two-fold:
(1) Collaboration with others for the specific goal of pushing through the necessity for a Referendum for Autonomy for Yorubaland. This will be achieved by massively publicizing the documents as energizer and mobilizer of Yoruba People at home and in the Diaspora.
(2) The submission of the Bills to the various Houses of Assembly in Yorubaland in pursuit of the Referendum must be initiated, and anchored by the Egbe Omo Oduduwa and Christians for Yoruba Nation, and through mobilization of the People, ensure its passage in order to make Yoruba Self-Determination a reality.