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Grant Us Regionalism or Nothing, Says Yoruba

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Midway into the on-going National Conference, the Yoruba yesterday made a stronger demand for regional autonomy, which it said, was the minimum condition for remaining in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The ethnic group, which basically comprises six states in the South-west geopolitical zone, expressed strong will “to exercise its right of self-determination on and up to the right to secede if its demand for regional autonomy is not granted.”

The demands were made at a joint news conference the leadership of the Yoruba Assembly, Afenifere Renewal Group, O’dua Foundation, O’dua Nationalist Coalition, Afenifere Youth Forum, Atayese, Agbekoya Reformed Society and Coalition for O’dua Self-determination Group among others addressed at Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota.

The news conference with the theme: “Regional Autonomy... or Nothing”, was addressed by the National Secretary, Chief Ayo Afolabi and Chairman of Atayese Yoruba Group, Chief Tokunbo Ajasin on behalf of the ethnic group.

They acknowledged that it was inconceivable that northern leaders "are the ones leading the campaign against devolution of power and restructuring of government.”

The ethnic group said it was baffled at the take-it-or-leave-it attitude of some delegates from other ethnic nationalities, particularly the Northern delegates who circulated a document full of fallacies few weeks ago that the North “has about 80 per cent of Nigerian population and that its resources were used to develop oil sectors.”

It therefore, said if any region in the federation “needs a stronger federating unit with greater capacity to provide education, health, security, wealth creation and other social amenities, it is the North where strong links exist between the level of poverty and conscription of innocent youths into extremist tendencies.”

According to the Yoruba, it appeared that Northern leaders were not concerned, and indeed had no plan for the teeming youth from the region, as long as they were able to continue clinging to their hold on power.

The ethnic group canvassed regional autonomy, which it said, was the most viable instrument for a stronger and united Nigeria, noting that the Yoruba people of Nigeria would not accept anything less than what it called ‘minimum demands.’

The group stated that Yoruba “want a regional government with its own constitution and unfettered political and fiscal autonomy, except on issues it agrees to cede to the federal government.”

The ethnic group, also, declared that the South-west geopolitical region “must include all Yoruba people outside the imposed artificial boundaries in Edo, Delta, Kogi and Kwara States.”

Part of its demands include a “negotiated legislative exclusive, concurrent and residual list, unicameral legislature at the centre; details of the regional legislature shall be clearly set out in the constitution; parliamentary form of government at the centre; and the right to self determination on and up to the right to secede.”

Other demands include a just and equitable taxation system that “will treat the federating units with equality and better coordination at the federal level in order to eliminate the current rent syndrome and fiscal federalism and resource control.

“A system whereby a substantial part of the proceeds accruable from every federating unit will be retained and an agreed percentage contributed to the centre by the federating units for the responsibility of the federal government.”

The group demanded the establishment of regional police and a new people‘s constitution, which the resolutions and conclusions of the 2014 national conference shall lead “to an autochthonous constitution, that is a home-grown and all inclusive draft that shall be submitted to the Nigerian electorate voting in a referendum

It, also, demanded special status of Lagos, which it said, would continue to be the economic nerve centre of Nigeria and the West Africa, hence, there should be an appropriate budgetary provision that is part of the First Line Charge in the Federation Account.

However, the people therefore, said: “We are not enforcing our demands on others. They are free to explore whatever suits them while we should be free to organise our governance the way it suits us.”

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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