Elder statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo Tuesday reiterated his calls for the enthronement of true federalism in Nigeria.
He stated that the 1999 constitution should be changed, insisting that Nigeria’s problems are rooted in the constitution, which he said is faulty.
He insisted that Nigeria will not make progress unless the country reverts to true federalism.
This is as DAWN said Nigeria is better a united country and charged The Director General of DAWN, Dr Seye Oyeleye advised Yoruba self determination and secessionist groups to sheathe their swords, declaring that Nigeria is better as a united country, even as the Yoruba nation would also be better off under one united Nigeria.
Adebanjo and Oyeleye made their remarks in Lagos at the Goke Omisore Annual Lecture (GOAL 2023), held under the theme, ‘Southwest Regional Integration: The DAWN Commission Approach’.
GOAL is an annual event dedicated to Prince Nicholas Olagoke Omisore, and organised by VOR-Voice of Reason.
Ayo Adebanjo stated that there should be a change in the nation’s constitution to federal system. He said that the root cause of our problem is federalism and regional autonomy that we have failed to embrace.
Revert to true federalism
Adebanjo insisted that Nigeria’s problems are rooted in the 1999 constitution, which he said is faulty.
He stated that the position of DAWN Commission is only begging the question, adding that “We have not surpassed the effort of our past leaders, and we cannot move forward under this constitution.”
He said that Nigeria’s founding fathers in all their wisdom could not have ruled Nigeria with a constitution as faulty as the 1999 Constitution.
He said, “The colonialists brought us together without our consent. Yoruba don’t want to dominate but we don’t want others to dominate us. All the theories the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo propounded are still practicable. Let us forget self aggrandizement. Let the new president change this constitution to a federal system, where each region would develop at its own pace.
Nigeria better united
Oyeleye in his keynote address noted that the South West geopolitical zone would fare better under a united Nigeria and advised the self determination groups to rather than seek a breakaway from Nigeria, work within the ambit of the Nigerian State by advocating true federalism to achieve the Yoruba Commonwealth.
He said, ” I am one of those that believe that the Yoruba nation is better off within the Nigerian state, provided we can continue the advocacy to fix our pseudo-federalism. Our mandate at the DAWN Commission limited us to work only within the ambit of the Nigerian State. I therefore want to use this moment to appeal to all Yoruba self-determination and sociopolitical advocates to seize this moment an auspicious opportunity to focus solely on advocating true federalism because the man at the helm of affairs in Nigeria is an avowed democrat, with a track record as a federalist”
He also listed seven proposals through which the South West can actualise the Yoruba Nation’s Commonwealth.
The proposals include invest in common ancestry; promoting cultural democracy; investing in education to produce the most resourceful young ones; and developing social capital as an engine for wealth creation. Other proposals are creating social institutions that promote the Yoruba value system; being proactive and patient; and never being tired of making a demand on Nigeria.
He decried what he termed the discrimination among the Yoruba based on State of origin, and advocated a system whereby Yoruba from anywhere in Western Nigeria can aspire to any position he desires in the region.
He further said, The question then arises about how to build this “common good” without a force of statehood, without ‘being in power’. This has been the crux of our dilemma as many Yoruba nationalists are of the opinion that we need to “be in power” for us to pursue our nationalist ideals. I do not think so.
“On the one hand, we preach that government has no business in business and should only provide enabling environment. But in practice, we want government to get involved 100 percent in our nationalistic pursuits.
“How is it that Israel, a country of immigrants from many countries with only a common ancestry and culture able to grow itself to become a dominant country in the world? As stated in an entry about Israel on IMF’s e-Library website, ‘a common tradition combined with a strong sense of national purpose no doubt has helped to mold this heterogeneous population into an instrument for rapid economic growth’. Israel’s growth is a demonstration of the power of investing in our common ancestry.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of the VOR, Otunba Olusola Adekanola, noted that VOR, an initiative of Late Prince Goke Omisore is a non-partisan group that support all legitimate Governments in the South West states irrespective of political party in pursuing the goal of ensuring responsive good governance that upholds accountability and observing the rule of law as guiding principles.
He said the advocacy group peopled by accomplished Yoruba intelligentsia aims to reenact the glorious accomplishments of the Late, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
He said, “We at VOR, have as our single agenda, the pursuit of restructuring of the Federation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We recognise that a replication of the feat accomplished by the revered sage can only be realized fully with comprehensive devolution of powers from the overburdened federal government to the federating States through a comprehensive constitutional amendment rather the token efforts made by successive National Assemblies in recent years. At VOR, we believe our Governors in the South West can do better and accomplish much more in agriculture, industrialisation, urban renewal and infrastructural developments even with the existing empowerment of the current Federal constitution.”
Adekanola commended the Late Prince Goke Omisore, who he noted bequeathed VOR the sum of N100 million in his Will.
“Early in the year, the executors of Prince Goke Omisore’s last will alerted us that he bequeathed N100mllion to VOR from his estate. We have fully taken custody of this money and it has been put into investments to ensure the future sustainability of VOR,” Adekanola said.