On true federalism, regionalism we stand – Yoruba Assembly By Emmanuel Oladesu and Bisi Oladele

The Yoruba General Assembly on Thursday called for regional autonomy for the Southwest in an atmosphere of true federalism in Nigeria. 

The group clarified that regional autonomy would not undermine or subvert national unity, stressing that it could only solidify national cohesion and harmony.

The assembly, which held a one-day conference at Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, also canvassed state police, return to parliamentary system, abolition of Land Use Decree, regional constitutions and role for traditional rulers.

Highlights of the conference included a historical presentation by a member of the planning committee, Mr. Dipo Famakinwa, who traced the tragedy of Yoruba nation from the colonial period to the present day Nigeria, goodwill messages from delegates, and passing of resolutions on the national question.

The General Assembly resolved to set up the Southwest Constitutional Commission "for the purpose of coordinating memoranda from citizens and groups in the region towards a federal constitution for the country and for producing a constitutional framework for the region as a unit of the Nigerian federation."

The meeting also listed the demand of Yoruba, including the adoption of parliamentary system, regional and state police, establishment of a Constitutional Court with jurisdiction over inter-governmental cases and petitions from elections to the National Assembly, open ballot system, Yoruba anthem and flag.

The Itsekiri nation, represented by Chief Fred Agbeyegbe, said that there would be no hope for Nigeria, unless a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) is convoked to discuss the basis for peaceful co-existence among the ethnic nationalities in the country.

Another Itsekiri leader, Isaac Jemide, lamented the ethnic aggression against the ethnic nationality by Ijaw, urging the Yoruba to help frustrate Ijaw's bid for separate state as a means of further oppressing Itsekiri on their land. 

He said Itsekiri had suffered unjust deprivation, enjoining the ethnic nationalities to advance the cause of national conference to boost their demand for self-determination.

The representative of Yoruba in Kwara and Kogi States, Ayo Abereoran, demanded for the creation of a separate state for the Yoruba in the two states to accommodate 14 Yoruba councils in Kwara and Kogi States. He said the new state should be part of the Southwest geo-political zone, following the restructuring of the polity.

He added: "Grouping with the North has separated Yoruba in Kwara and Kogi from their kith and kin in the Southwest and this has retarded the progress and development of Yoruba in those states.  State creation had made Okun Yoruba in Kogi and Yoruba in Kwara to become more weakened, despite the fact that Yoruba occupied 12 councils and have the largest population in Kwara State.

"Willinkson Committee recommended that the people of Kabba and Ilorin Provinces can decide whether they can remain in the North or become part of the Southwest. They said they wanted to become part of the west, but it was not implemented. We want self-determination and correction to the geographical imbalance and erroneous boundaries created by Lord Lugard."


Culled from The Nation, 30/08/2012 .

Publish Date: 

Friday, 7 September 2012