Yoruba Leaders Take Unified Position On Confab Report

SINCE the advent of democratic rule in 1999, Nigerians particularly the Yoruba race, have clamoured for restructuring of the polity to reflect true federalism. This, proponents say, can only be actualised through the convocation of a sovereign national conference, even though successive governments had refused to yield to the demand.

    The decision by President Goodluck Jonathan to convene a national conference to address the myriads of problems confronting the Nigerian nation was a move applauded by many Nigerians. But, with the conference over and the draft recommendations presented to President Jonathan, the question is whether, or not, the resolutions would be implemented. In fact, there are fears that the draft recommendations may go the way of other policy documents that had been confined to the dustbin of history. 

    To prevent this, Yoruba leaders, mostly from the pan-socio-cultural organisation, the Afenifere and the Igbimo Agba Yoruba, otherwise called the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), have taken it upon themselves to campaign for the reelection of President Jonathan, saying this is the only way to guarantee the implementation of the conference resolution.

     At a summit of Yoruba leaders, tagged, “The National Conference, 2015 Elections and the Yoruba nation,” held last Thursday, they were unanimous in their argument that the initiator of the Confab remains the best person to implement it.

   The leaders, namely Chief Olu Falae, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Ayo Adebanjo, second Republic Minister, Richard Akinjide, YCE President, Gen Adeyinka Adebayo (rtd), Senator Femi Okunrounmu, Arch bishop Ayo Ladigbolu, Dr Kunle Olajide, former governors Adebayo Alao Akala and Gbenga Daniel as well as top politicians, mostly from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) argued that since General Mohammadu Buhari (rtd) never participated in the conference or showed any interest, it will be difficult for him to implement the recommendations.

    Mimiko, who is the Southwest coordinator of President Jonathan’s reelection committee, reminded that the Yoruba nation was at the forefront of the agitation for the convocation of a National Conference, saying with the eventual move by the president, the onus is on us, as a race, to support his reelection bid so that the resolutions in the Confab report can be implemented.

     “We, the Yoruba people, are one of the most blessed ethnic nationalities in the world. Blessed with human and natural resources, we demonstrated during the First Republic that we could hold our own in the comity of other republics. This is why we are very strong in canvassing for the implementation of the resolutions of the 2014 Confab as this would guarantee a return to that system where our forefathers proved their mettle to the rest of the world as brilliant administrators of men and resources. 

   “For us as Yoruba, no system is as potent enough to bring out the best in us as true federalism, a re-structured Nigeria, where power is devolved and a land.”

He reminded that Nigeria has passed through various stages of national dialogues before without being able to emplace a constitutional and political arrangement that is accommodating enough to sustain the dedication and patriotism of many.

“The Constitutional and governmental experiments that we have had seem inadequate to capture the essence of those things that have the inherent capacity to unite us despite our ethnic differences. The 2014 National Conference dealt with many, if not all, of the difficult issues facing the country, including the structure of the federation, devolution of powers, states creation, resource development, and state police, among others.

Indeed, everyone has something in the Confab report that contained over 600 resolutions, which 492 people passed by consensus – that is unprecedented in the history of Nigeria.”

    Mimiko explained that “the Confab report when implemented, will create room for each state to have its own constitution, its own police force, its own prison service, can create its own local governments, can build its own airports, seaports and railways; in the economic domain, solid minerals that had been the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government since independence, have now been brought to the concurrent list. States can now create employment and develop at their own pace.”

     Adebanjo, who chaired the meeting, traced the history of the Yoruba nation from the pre-colonial era and the role played by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in repositioning the zone, saying it would be too bad for the people of the zone to follow the likes of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressive Congress (APC’s) presidential candidate.

    He likened president Jonathan to the late Premier of the Western region, saying his reelection in the forthcoming polls would guarantee true transformation.

He said: “Why would Yorubas want to go backwards? Buhari is far from being the angel that they painted him to be. It is in the best interest of the Yoruba race to vote Jonathan to guarantee our freedom.

    Falae, in his contribution, said politics is about interest and whoever will support Yoruba interest should be supported. The former presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said his party supported Buhari in 2011 because he promised to convene a national conference if elected.

   “Since President Jonathan took the gauntlet and convened the national conference, Yorubas must support him to come back so as to implement the resolutions.”

Others, including Adebayo, Akinjide and presidential spokesman, Doyin Okupe reminded of Yoruba clamour for national conference saying it would be a great disservice for the race to jettison the implementation of such a report.

    In their separate papers at the summit, Prof Dupe Olatunbosun and Yinka Odumakin said the nation needs constitutional changes, and not the change being clamoured by the APC.

     Prof. Olatubosun, in his paper, maintained that the only way forward to guarantee that the Confab recommendations will not be thrown into the dustbin of history is for the South to vote massively for President Jonathan.

   Olatunbosun said it is inconceivable to expect Buhari, ‘who was not interested in the conference and who refused to participate and contribute to the conference’ to show any interest in its implementation.

    “The only way forward to guarantee the implementation of the Confab is to vote massively, all of us in the Southwestern Nigeria and beyond, for someone who will implement the Confab recommendations.

    He said: “Gen Buhari will not implement the confab recommendations. That is why the entire Yoruba nation who are interested in the progress, unity and stability of this nation should fully back and work diligently for the re-election of President Jonathan.”

   Besides, he noted that, in the last 54 years of the nation’s independence, the North has been in power for 36 years, while the south held sway for 18 years and urged the north to wait till 2019.

    In the interest of fairness, justice and equity, Prof Olatunbosun said the southern interest should take precedence over the northern interest.

He described those supporting Buhari as ‘Judas Iscariot of the south’ and political merchants.

    “They are selling a lie and calling it change; deceiving our people. Which change? These people calling for change have sold their conscience; APC is telling us to abandon the path of freedom. This country must be restructured; Nigeria cannot be run on a unitary Constitution. If we allow it, the administrative machinery of governance would collapse under bureaucratic centralism.   Nigeria can only work properly, efficiently and effectively and make progress socially, economically and politically if we change the present structure and not the APC’s nebulous change of deceit.”

    On claims by the APC that Buhari would tackle corruption if elected, Prof Olatubosun maintained that only the strong determination and collective efforts of all Nigerians could drastically reduce corruption in the country. He insisted that no single individual, however dictatorial and draconian, could single-handedly stop corruption in Nigeria.

   On his part, Odumakin said a vote for Jonathan is not about political affiliation but the future of the country.



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