The nation and the Southwest in particular have arrived at a critical juncture. The strategic imperative is how to navigate the way forward.
Recent on-going events will provide the key parameters on the road to pivotal elections this year and in 2019. It will also be decisive, as policy options are considered for how to resolve the dilemmas to be tackled and resolved in the make or break decade 2020-2030 ahead. With Nigeria’s alarming population growth rates and economic growth below par, the policy options must be weighed very carefully.
The present discourse appears to center around two options. On the one hand, we have the populist driven ‘stomach infrastructure’ paradigm and on the other, the sustainable development model.
In weighing the options, it is important to note that nothing has actually changed, it’s eerily still the same debate as in the 1950’s about the development options and the way ahead.
The demagoguery behind ‘stomach infrastructure’ must be appreciated and not derided. It obviously negates the problematic involved in the deferment of immediate gratification. The issue is understandable in a poverty ridden society devoid of the most rudimentary of social safety nets. We are just seeing the emergence of things such as free school meals and ‘Agba Osun’. How a balance providing immediate needs with constructing the blocks for sustainable development is the issue of our times. For what is appealing about the misconstrued populism of stomach infrastructure can be found in the admonition of the economist John Maynard Keynes, “in the long-term, we are all dead.”
As the leader of government business and later Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had to undergo a delicate balancing act in trying to navigate his way through. The level of taxation was high in the Western Region in the 1950’s and it was disproportionately skewed against the rural areas. Awolowo’s party paid a heavy electoral price in terms of the loss of seats in the local government elections as well as regional and federal elections. Indeed, Awolowo actually won a very narrow electoral victory running against his NCNC challenger, Chief Kehinde Sofola in Ijebu-Remo central constituency in the pivotal 1959 pre-independence general elections.
It is of course, the verdict of history, which matters. And history has vindicated Chief Awolowo and his party, that the construction of the foundations for a better tomorrow should override immediate electoral gains. History will also vindicate the state of Osun’s Rauf Aregbesola who has also had to vary out a delicate balancing act. Of course, it has also come at a cost.
The way out is to slay the monster of stomach infrastructure through massive political education and economic policies based on jobs creation and the elevation of a skill based framework. The mechanisms through which the government of Ignacio Lula da Silva pulled out 40 million people out of poverty in 80 years must be carefully looked at and applied. It is in the interest of the progressive movement to delicately navigate a path through the stomach infrastructure versus sustainable development conundrum. In our opinion, the ‘alternative perspective’ balancing act of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola provides a good starting point.
That some twenty seven members of the APC are in the race to win the nomination of the party for the governorship election in September should not make anyone apprehensive, on the contrary, it is a celebration of democracy. Democracy itself rests on plurality of choices and a crowded field reflects a testimonial of faith in the democratic process, which means that constitutional government is deepening in our country
The stellar performance of the outgoing governor has certainly kindled interests in a job he has made glamorous. The path breaking social initiatives and fiscal balancing cannot but enthuse those who believe that the processes of government should benefit the majority and not just a few. It’s a beautiful morning for democracy in the State of Osun.
Our own position is unambiguous and will be constantly reiterated, there must be continuity of the pro – people, progressive policies of the current administration, any other consideration is subordinate to this objective. For, as it is often stated, continuity of progressive policies in Lagos State since 1999 has made and continues to be the trajectory for sustainable development in Lagos. It will be a tragic loss of focus not to emulate the Lagos example. Since there is no rational reason to disrupt a winning strategy, all those seeking the nomination of the APC must put continuity first and last.
This will call for great discipline as well as the key objective of putting the party first. Only one person will gain the nomination at the end of the day, all must remember that they desire the nomination of the party not for self – agrandisement but to further the progressive ideals of the party. All the aspirants must remember that modern political parties are established and operated on the basis of democratic centralism which represents the subordination of personal or factional interests to the overwhelming interests of the party as a whole. In the case of Osun, a lot is riding on the continuity objective. Posterity will be unforgiving if through acts of omission and commission the fortunes[the pun is intended] of the state is handed back to retrogressive forces who stultified the purposeful development of the state in the past and who, availed of another opportunity will plunder the resources of the state with the same reckless abandonment of the past.
As a party, the APC represents the cohesive position for good governance in the State of Osun. For this reason, they have a clear moral responsibility to ensure a rancour free succession process.
For the people themselves through the APC, there is everything at stake. As the philosopher, Plato pointed out centuries ago. “If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools”. Sadly, as of today, Osun does not have anything remotely like a government-in-waiting. This is reprehensible for a democracy, but it places overwhelming responsibility on the APC and its aspirants for the highest office in the state to ensure continuity of good government.
We ask all contestants to play by the rules and put the interests of the party first.
The question of whether the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is jinxed as being asked in many quarters comes to the fore again, as members of the party displayed – yet again – another round of indecent and destructive behaviour during their South-West rally that took place last Saturday in the state of Osun at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo the state capital.
The said PDP rally left destruction in its wake as party hoodlums destroyed some of the facilities put in place at the park. This scenario has again given justification to the popular opinion that the party, rather than being a people’s party, is completely anti-people as it has shown to the public again that it’s always out for destruction. For why should a party that prides itself as a people’s party revel in destroying public property? If a party truly had people’s interest at heart then it will protect and preserve whatever is meant to be enjoyed by the people. The question therefore on the lips of many in the wake of the misconduct exhibited on Saturday, is; ‘why is it that whatever the hand of the PDP touches, it must destroy?’
As a party that held sway at the national level for sixteen years, it destroyed the economy so much so that the people are still grappling with the pervasive poverty and massive deprivation it left behind as its legacies. And in our own state of Osun here, the party couldn’t point to any enduring legacy for its eight years rule. So, isn’t it a contradiction in terms that a party that couldn’t build any enduring legacy is now destroying what it took Ogbeni Aregbesola’s visionary leadership painstaking effort to put in place? This is highly reprehensible!
But much as we are taken aback by this PDP’s misconduct, some analysts do not find it surprising at all as they are of the view that the PDP only exhibited their stock in trade. They believe that since destruction is in their character, then they must always reflect this in their approaches. We substantially agree with this school of thought!
We therefore ask; is this a party that is planning to come back to power both at the state and federal level? Do they think the electorates are fools as to suffer amnesia with respect to the destruction they did to the country’s economy and people’s lives? And having admitted her mistake and made apology to the Nigerian people for the great blow they dealt to the economy, is it wise for the party to relapse into the actions and deeds that were responsible for her downfall? Can’t they reflect?
With such a negative attitude, the PDP had only succeeded in opening the eyes of our people to what they are planning to come and do again if they should return to power. But the Aregbesola’s legacy is just too precious to our people than for them to entrust it in the hands of a destructive and never-do-well party. Osun needs continuity! We mean continuity of the stellar performance of Ogbeni Aregbesola.
Fear, Loathing And The Primaries
Much more is expected of the coalition of progressives in the All Progressives Congress (APC) than the untoward events which followed the primaries in some states recently. The APC is not expected to be a run-of-the-mill formation like the now discredited hardly ‘Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). The natural expectation is for the APC to be at the forefront of consolidating Nigeria’s democracy and in the process transiting itself into the natural party of government.
This is an historic responsibility, for sadly, unlike most of the newly independent countries, Nigeria never really had a natural party or government which would have acted as a rallying point for the republic. This is why the APC should learn the much needed lessons from the unlamented decline of the PDP. Not to do so will be tragic, for the country would have squandered an historic opportunity for progressive change.
The party must therefore begin an unrelenting onward transformation of itself into a functioning democratic organisation based on internal democracy, party discipline and democratic centralism. Prebandalism, the hideous process whereby all politics revolves around just sharing of posts and self-aggrandisement must be deemphasized. Therefore, all parties involved must play their part in ensuring an equitable, transparently free and fair rescheduled primary election in Ekiti today.
There is a lesson here as the primaries approach in the State of Osun. Individuals in the party, if they truly accept the calling must put the progressive trajectory as well as the incontrovertible cause of continuity of people-oriented policies and governance above self.
Osun Defender will continue to run the profiles of the people perceived to be in the running to succeed Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as the governor of the State of Osun. This is being done as a public service. None of them has formally declared their intention to run, nevertheless, there is a widely held perception that they are in the race.
With events rapidly unfolding, the critical issue is what to expect? Aregbesola has shown that adequate preparation is vital. His thoroughly articulated Six-point Integral Action Plan provided the roadmap for what has been generally acknowledged as a stellar performance in office. It cannot but be a source of unease that as of now, we are not seeing a similar well constructed programme of social and economic reconstruction and rejuvenation to take the diligent application of the Aregbesola years to the next level. This is disturbing.
For kudos must be given to Ogbeni Aregbesola for decisively altering the territory of the debate as well as the perception of the efficacy of government intervention programmes. This is reflected in the fact that it will be political suicide to now go against Aregbesola’s social intervention programmes.
There will of course be issues as to the dotting of I’s and crossings of T’s, nevertheless, no one is openly going to come out and commit to the wholesale dismantling of the free school meals programme and so forth.
The fiscal landscape of Nigeria will continue to be difficult in the foreseeable future. This is understandable for we are in a period of transition from an ancient regime which virtually bankrupted the nation. In addition, our defective quasi-federalism will continue to act as a brake on the nation’s federating units. What this means is that anyone taking over at the state level must, to quote the motto of the Boys Scouts – “Be prepared”.
We therefore urge the aspirants to provide clearly-articulated, rigorously costed programmes for the public to peruse. On our part, we believe, indeed we insist that a continuation of the programmes of the Aregbesola administration is in the best interest of the state of Osun. The state having made so much sacrifices cannot afford to go back to a dismal past of underachievement. The Aregbesola template must be built upon. We will be delighted to publish any well costed programme presented to us by any aspirant of whatever political colouration.
Nothing better illustrates the pathetic base politics of Osun PDP than the fatuous claim by Senator Iyiola Omisore that the United Nations Educational and Scientific Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) gave Osun State government over 70 per cent of the amount spent to reconstruct the Olaiya-Ita Olokan Road – the road that leads to the sacred Osun Groove. In an apparent bid to disprove the statement made by the governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, while inaugurating the 2.8 kilometre road on Tuesday, March 6, said that the state got the money to construct the road from the Omoluabi Infrastructure Conservation Fund with the approval of the state House of Assembly, he claimed that the global body largely provided the funds.
His words: “It is an open secret and matter in the domain of the public that the Osun State government had assessed counterpart funds from UNESCO, which is in excess of over 70 per cent following the designation of the Osun Osogbo Groove by the world body as one of the World Heritage sites for local and international tourists.
“This is not new and practical efforts, which climaxed in the attraction of such funds to Osun, began during the regime of the Peoples Democratic Party. But, it is a statement of fact that Aregbesola received counterpart funds from UNESCO”.
Coming from an individual, albeit a serial loser, who once aspired to govern the State of Osun, such fiction in the name of politicking obviously takes him and his party to a new low. The truth however is that UNESCO provided no such funds to the state government. UNESCO in a statement issued by its Communication Consultant (Regional Office) Olusola Macaulay was emphatic: “UNESCO did not contribute any fund to the construction of the road that leads to Osun Grove. And there was no time the Osun State government or its agencies approached UNESCO to support the project or contribute anything to it. We didn’t pay 70 per cent or any other fraction to the project, as being peddled. As I speak to you, we have no project we are undertaking in Osun State.”
It is bad enough that Omisore will drag the respectable international body into his kind of politics. Sadder still is that UNESCO’s swift rebuttal of the barefaced lie has changed nothing as far as Omisore and his PDP are concerned. No apologies to the Rauf Aregbesola administration that he so callously maligned; none to the good people of Osun that he irresponsibly tried to mislead; and certainly no word of contrition for the lies spewed forth about the global body. Rather, he has since moved on ostensibly convinced that lies, big or small, do not matter.
Well, Osun people have a rare chance to prove that true-telling does matter. It is in fact the hallmarks of an Omoluabi. Now, they know better than to entrust their destinies to the hands of those who choose to call darkness light; characters who put out falsehood as truth. Time to get ready for the soulless fellows as they will soon come begging for their votes. Time to show them the true masters.
We commend the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola for the payment of full salaries for the month of December. This forward thrust has resulted in a positive change of mood in the state. The multiplier effect as people have started receiving text alerts from the state treasury has been pronounced.
The government is also to be commended for standing by the various agreements reached with the Unions.
This is a fundamental testimony of the efficacy of the social contract which fundamentally binds the government with the populace and civil society.
In view of Nigeria’s lopsided quasi-federalism, the state government of Osun has had to carry out a delicate balancing act. The contractual obligations to its workforce has to be acknowledged, but at the same time the physical and social infrastructures have to be built to protect and enhance sustainability in development.
In this way, the government is protecting the future of another generation. It is a delicate balancing act. The figures are revealing. Out of total expenditures between 2010 and 2017, N60 billion representing 23% went on infrastructure and N200 billion representing 77% went on salaries and pensions.
Ogbeni Aregbesola must be commended for his ingenuity in balancing competing needs. He has very sensibly acted not as a politician with an eye on the next election, but as a statesman in the interests of generations yet unborn.
The verdict of history on his tenure will be very positive.
As the administration winds down with elections slated for September 22, 2018 we should be of good cheer. The decisive gains in infrastructure must be protected. The state of Osun is at ease with itself and is one of the most peaceful in the country.
The state is also the second highest in terms of the human development index. Starting from an excruciatingly low base, Aregbesola has incontrovertibly declared a dividend of democracy in a very difficult economic climate.
History therefore beckons on Aregbesola to use his acknowledged political skills and managerial sagacity in order to ensure continuity. The government to be elected on the 22nd of September must be committed to carrying the progressive agenda to the next level.
The people of Osun deserve this and every single individual must assist in order to ensure that there is no backsliding to a discredited old ways.
Drug abuse has become rampant in our society nowadays whereby many use drugs without specific prescription from medical practitioner. Drug abuse can as well be a kind of misuse of drugs or misinterpretation of the directive given by the physician, as some decide to use their own discretion instead of following the given instruction.
Many even walk into a chemist of their choices and get whatever drugs they want without prescription. Findings have also revealed that some people do inject themselves with stimulants for different reasons which eventually cause a lot of damages on their body unknowingly.
Many takes drug to energize themselves to work effectively especially those who get themselves injected with various stimulants. Drug in real sense causes a lot of damages on humans body when use inappropriately, therefore it is necessary for people to seek medical advice and stop taking drugs without prescription.
Moreover, the government should take proper action on this matter so as to stop the misuse of drugs in our society either by closing down some unauthorized pharmacies and bring an end to importation of drugs that are not good for our health into this country.
Moreso, pharmacies and chemist owners needs to stop selling un-prescribed drugs to the people and also seek to know the status of their ailment before prescribing drugs to them.
Notwithstanding, individual should as well see it as a responsibility or necessity to seek a medical advice before asking for any drugs.
In certain schools of political thought, from time to time, the elite classes drop crumbs of hope to pacify the masses. These crumbs are dropped to propagate the belief that a shift is underway that will eventually lead to real political change. The passing of the Not Too Young to Run Bill, is one of those crumbs.
Passed by the Senate last month, the Bill will lower the age of qualification for political aspirants running for presidency, governorship and other political offices. For the office of the Presidency, the age of qualification has been reduced from 40 to 30, Governorship from 35 to 30, Senate from 35 to 30, House of Representatives from 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly from 30 to 25. The Bill will also allow for independent candidates to run for office, sidestepping the need for political parties.
Though the Bill still has some hoops to go through before taking effect, the move by the Senate has been lauded by many as a sign of change, even a positive ‘call to arms’ for the youth, showing that the upper echelons seek to promote equality and level the playing field by encouraging young people to take a more active role in society.
Following in the footsteps of Nigeria’s example, the UN’s Envoy on Youth has partnered with other agencies in a bid to take the Not Too Young To Run movement worldwide. And in theory it makes sense. According to the UN, there are more young people in the world now, than ever before, and approximately 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24 . In Nigeria, over 60% of the population is under the age of 25. The median age of the country is 18, placing it in the top 20 youngest countries in the world. If population estimates are to be believed, this is a trend that is likely to continue.
But these numbers aren’t reflected in the country’s politics, with Nigeria’s leadership much older than the population. The current president is 74, the vice president is 60 and the senate president is 54. Of the 105 listed Senators on the NASS website, none are in their 30s, the youngest is 43. After a reportedly strong youth turnout in the 2015 election, it would seem obvious that the passing of this Bill, would only strengthen the youth, but will it?
Youth participation in politics on every level is important and should be encouraged, but just like old age is not necessarily an indicator of wisdom, youth alone is not an indicator of the potential for good governance. There is a need for the country’s leadership to reflect its populace, but just as an older politician can be out of touch, corrupt and inept, so can a young one. Nevertheless, anything that will increase the impact of the youth in politics is surely worthwhile, unfortunately, the bill in and of itself will likely do very little to change the current order and politics will still remain very much in the grip of the elite.
A 2015 research paper into the cost of politics by Adebowale Olorunmola shows the exorbitant costs that come with wanting to serve the nation. To run for office, the current president paid a whopping N27.5 million (N2.5 million for expression of interest and N20 million for a nomination fee) the opposition candidate would have paid N22 million. In a country where the minimum wage is N18,000 a month and 70% of the population live below the poverty line, it’s difficult to see how the office of the president is a realistic ambition for the average citizen, talk less of a young person.
Governorship fees are just as outrageous, totalling N5,500, 500 for the APC and N11,000,000 for the opposition. The “cheapest” option is a run at the House of Representatives which under the APC costs N2, 200,000 and under the opposition N2,400,000. Calls to increase the minimum wage have fallen on deaf ears and the youth unemployment rate is at an abysmal high, so how can we honestly suggest that the playing field has shifted even remotely?
High fees aside, we cannot ignore the grip of corruption and godfatherism on virtually every level of Nigeria’s politics. “Godfathers are mostly instrumental to the emergence of virtually every successful candidate from whichever state they control,” reads Olorunmola’s report. “The godfathers are typically above the law and able to mobilize support, money and violence for candidates.”
With such a firm grip on power that shows no sign of diminishing, how then does lowering the voting age factor into making politics more fair, or political office any easier to attain? It doesn’t.
If youth participation in politics was really important, then as well as reducing the age of qualification, why aren’t fees being drastically reduced to represent the wage structure of the country? Why aren’t there more avenues for young people to learn what good governance entails through internships and fellowships?
Reducing the age qualification without tackling any of these other major barriers to office is just another crumb from the elite to help uphold the belief that change is afoot, when it’s really just another smokescreen.
If we had expected the National Assembly to utilise the ongoing constitutional amendment to douse separatist agitations across the federation, their volte-face on the bill which sought to alter the Second Schedule, Part I & II to move certain items to the Concurrent Legislative List to give more legislative powers to states has shown how far the national legislature is from the people. In an exercise that will go on record as a terrible misrepresentation of the people’s will, the Senate shut down the bill on Wednesday and the House of Representatives follow suit a day after. By that, what could have been a pragmatic response to the current chant for restructuring of the unwieldy and unworkable federation was cynically aborted by the so-called representatives of the people.
We consider such abortion tragic. Tragic because much as we do not pretend that the restructuring as being canvassed by some agitators is the magical silver bullet to cure the country of its many ills, it seems the best shot at getting the country out of its current despondency and the continuing withering of the nation’s institutions. Today, we find the correlates in the total collapse of the physical and social infrastructure across the federation, the unparalleled crime wave, the unprecedented youth unemployment and general alienation of the citizenry among other ills that has continually been retrogressing the nation.
On what grounds do our so-called distinguished parliamentarians stand on to justify the retention of the status quo – if we may ask? Are they happy that states which ought to be centres of economic activities are no more than leeches on an equally unproductive but mindlessly extractive federal government? What is there to celebrate in the so-called federation in which the central government holds the levers of economic power, even when it has no clues on how to exploit and mazimise its vast treasures let alone getting same to work for the benefits of its people?
Another is the centralised police that have become a bye-word in corruption and inefficiency –even at time criminal gangs of different hues and sophistication are off the leash? Is it a case of our lawmakers being blinded by the perks they currently enjoy in Abuja to the point that they can no longer see what the rest of us see and live with on daily basis?
Why do we need to get the power devolved to states at this time? First, the current fiscal arrangement under which the country’s entire revenue is first taken into a central pool and later shared is anomalous; over time, the practice has lulled most states into false sense of financial security as oil freely flowed. Today, the new reality imposed by falling oil prices has rendered the practice unsustainable.
Second, most states are known to be sitting literally on gold mines; unfortunately, the minerals and everything beneath the soil remains the exclusive preserve of the federal government. With the responsibility devolved to the states, the potentials of the states can thus be unleashed not just to enable them contribute to the overall national wealth, but also to create mass employment.
As for the security, we do think that the country has long passed the point where anyone would justify the retention of the current security architecture. Whether it is tagged state police or neighbourhood watch, there is evidently a growing consensus that the country currently requires a new framework of multi-level policing.
If truly, real sovereignty belongs to the people, the least we expect from both Houses of parliament is to revisit the issue as some of their leaders have promised to do – in September. It seems the wisest thing to do in the circumstance.
The murder, some days ago, of a member of the Oyo state House of Assembly, Gideon Aremu, who represented Oorelope Constituency, was quite sad and shocking. For a young man like that with a promising future to be cut down at his prime – just like that – is really saddening. We ask; what could he have done to deserve being sent to a journey of no return?
Umpteen times this newspaper and others in the country have editorially condemned assassination as a means of settling scores. It’s most barbaric and wicked. We still believe – as we have always maintained – that no grievance; political or otherwise, is beyond negotiation. Every issue under the sky no matter how volatile can be settled through communication and negotiation. To resort to taking life that one cannot give is highly criminal and ungodly. For we believe that it’s only God Almighty that has the sole right to take life since He alone is the sole giver of it.
The killing of this young lawmaker has again sent another wrong signal to us as a people and most especially to the political class to which the slain legislator belonged. While we cannot say with certitude here that the killing of the young lawmaker was politically motivated, it may not at the same time be totally out of place to read political meaning to it since he was a politician and also given the fact that politically motivated killings have always found abode in our land.
At a time that we could say that we are having some respite in respect of assassination of politicians the killing of this young legislator is sending another wrong signal. This leaves a sour taste in the mouth and it saddens the mind greatly. For whatever reason we don’t need unnecessary waste of life like this especially as they involve young and dynamic elements with the potentials of providing good leadership to our country in the nearest future. It’s most criminal and highly condemnable.
No doubt the future of our country is in the hands of young and dynamic people who are also politically upwardly mobile as they are capable of injecting new and progressive ideas into our politics which will lead to effecting positive changes as against archaic and antediluvian ideas that have occupied our political landscape over the years. But when members of this class of political animals are being mercilessly sent to early graves then the rest will be scared away from joining politics thereby being denied the right to make meaningful contributions to fatherland through this platform. And this is why we find the murder of this young legislator highly condemnable. It’s most unwelcome, counter-productive and totally anti-human.
We like to conclude this piece by calling on the security agents to fish out the killers of this young lawmaker. The case must not be allowed to be swept under the carpet like series of similar ones in the past that we have failed to unravel the mysteries surrounding such wicked assassinations. The Police and other security agents must not fail in their duty this time around. They must ensure that they achieve result by bringing his killers to justice. May God help them – Amen.
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, in his speech to the Nigerian Legislative Council, had this to say: “we shall demand our rights when the time is ripe. We do want independence and we shall fight for it if necessary, but I should like to make it clear to you that if the British quit Nigeria now at this stage, the Northern people would continue their interrupted conquest to the sea.”
Nnamidi Azikiwe, as President of the Igbo State Union, said “it would appear that the gods of Africa has specially created the Igbo nation to lead the children of Africa from the bondage of the ages”, while another prominent Igbo, Charles Daddy Onyeama was the same time saying that “the domination of Nigeria, indeed Africa, by the Ibo race was a question of time”.
Oloye Obafemi Awolowo, on his part, had this to say: “Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no Nigerian in the same sense as there are English, Welsh or French. The word Nigeria is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria from those who do not.”
These statements, made around the same time, 1947-1949, in the heat of the push towards independence formed the foundational and continuous story of Nigeria where some parts would be thinking of reserving for themselves the right of a conquest, either by sheer force of arms or by a supposed divine mandate.
These historical trajectories had been at the expense of the Yoruba, who appeared to be the target of these adventures especially with the alliance between the aspiring domineers, such that the breakdown of the alliance in 1966 and its attendant Fun of violence against each other did not prevent further cementing of the alliance in peacetime. Having gone through fifty years of this alliance in one form or the other, everyone now realizes that the resultant political space is unsustainable.
Nowhere was this manifested more than our most recent past with the economic meltdown in the states and in the federal government itself; institutions that had been surviving solely on “allocations” from the federal government even as some claims were made as to increases in what is called internally generated revenue. The cost of running these bureaucracies at the state and central levels go over seventy percent of the total income of the entire country thus leaving no room for any capital for any form of development.
Yet, for the Yoruba Nation, our post-colonial experience showed that such a bureaucracy is antithetical to development as all it took us was in being rooted in a socio-cultural ethos based on the need to situate the Yoruba anti-colonial experience within the ambit of the development of “man”, which was why Federalism took root in Yorubaland and had since been the bedrock of our praxis.
This is borne from an appreciation by Oloye Obafemi Awolowo, not only because he was the major proponent of Constitutional re-engineering of Africa based on the recognition of the African to influence the trajectory of the world based on his inherent ability as a human being to determine his relationship within as well as without, which all boils down to the meaning of a Constitution as the formal establishment of a social, economic and political relationship between different people.
In his Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Lecture delivered in 1976, he had this to say about Constitutions:
“Constitution-making has, since independence, become a past-time in all parts of Africa. As soon as a new set of people accede to power, they find some pretext for introducing a new Constitution. Be that as it may, the point I wish to make here is that none of the Constitutions operating in Africa today are likely to endure beyond the tenure of those who make them and hand them down to the people, because they are fundamentally unsuitable in character for a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual or multi-national State.
“I have made a long and careful study of the problems involved in Constitution-making and, as a result, I have certain definite principles. Time does not permit me, in this lecture, to set out the theoretical and empirical bases for the principles which I am going to state presently. But if I may say so, without appearing immodest, I would refer those who are interested to two of my books entitled “thoughts on the Nigerian Constitution and the People’s republic which contain a full exposition of the said principles.
“Of all the 189 countries in the world, twenty have Federal Constitutions and the remaining 169 have Unitary Constitutions. The twenty Federal States have a population of 2400million, that is approximately two-thirds of the entire population of the world and as far as is known, in spite of occasional social upheavals in some of them, the character of their Constitutions, together with the basic provisions thereof, has endured because it is suitable for their respective peculiar conditions.
“I will now state the principles which I have evolved and relate each of them, as appropriate, to the twenty Federal countries and to other multi-lingual States with Unitary Constitutions. They are as follows:
(1) If a country is unilingual and uni-national, the Constitution must be unitary. Examples are: France, Italy, Portugal, Poland and Greece, among others, which are unilingual and have always had Unitary Constitutions.
(2) If a country is uni-lingual or bi-lingual or multi-lingual and also consists of communities, which, though belonging to the same nation or linguistic group, have, over a period of years, developed some important cultural divergences as well as autonomous geographical separateness, the Constitution must be Federal, and the constituent States must be organized on the dual basis of Language and geographical separateness. Examples are: USA, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Indonesia, the Federation of South Arabia, Australia, Austria, the two Germanys and Switzerland.
(3) If a country is bi-lingual or multi-lingual, the Constitution must be Federal, and the constituent States must be organized on a linguistic basis. Examples are: Canada, Mexico, Burma, China, India, Malaysia, Czechoslovakia, the USSR and Yugoslavia.
(4) Any experiment with a Unitary Constitution in a bi-lingual or multi-lingual country must fail, in the long run. Examples are the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Belgium, Spain, Sri Lanka and Cyprus, all of which have, for some time, been experiencing incessant turmoil and violence because, though they are either bi-lingual or multi-lingual, yet they stubbornly insist on operating a Unitary Constitution.
If the vast majority of mankind, among them the USA, the USSR, China—the three super powers-and India—the harbinger of freedom from colonial rule—if all these countries, for what I sincerely think are very sound reasons, consider a certain form of Constitution suitable for some specified set of circumstances and adopt such a form of Constitution, African leaders would do well to learn from them and not follow the erring ways of Britain, Spain and others who have refused to learn, and are right now suffering the agonies of their errors. But before proceeding to learn, African leaders should endeavor to appreciate the true meanings of terms like Clan, Tribe and Ethnic or Linguistic or National Group, and the difference between tribalism and ethnicism. For it is not in a chemical laboratory alone that wrong labelling could lead to serious disaster and death. It could do so too in politics. The only difference is that in the former case, disaster is instant, whilst in the latter, it tends to be insidious and delayed.
If our leaders and all of us observe the principles enunciated above, it will be the easiest thing for us to fashion, for Africa’s multi-lingual States, a Constitution which will endure in its character and eliminate ab initio, the tendency to future secessionist agitation, because it preserves the pre-colonial co-eval status of each of the constituent ethnic or linguistic units, and allays the fears of minority groups.”
The above would be the further concretization of his 1945 statement which manifested in the quest for Federalism to which it appears everyone has now subscribed, one way or the other, even as secessionist tendencies also thrive. This is exactly the reason why Nigeria is presently in a position to set an example for the rest of Africa in a fundamental manner and the Yoruba have a lot of responsibility in this regard.
Such responsibility hangs on, among others, creating a pathway for its realization. Nigeria has had so many conferences whose reports have not seen the light of day such that aspiring or advocating for another will be a waste of time as well as an unnecessary ritual. Yet, the only way the aspirations of a people can be decided is through such a Conference or Convention, but now anchored on a Referendum among the various peoples simply because of the multi-lingual, multi-cultural composition of Nigeria itself.
This is all the more urgent considering the 2015 election experience and whose replication in 2019 is just around the corner. The economic meltdown and the corruption associated with it alongside the attempts at truncating the legal means of tackling corruption will leave no room for any form of radical transformation of the economy that will be needed to check the economic drift, hence the necessity to arrest this situation from its foundation—the political structure. The Yoruba Nation can begin this process by calling on the Attorney General of the Federation to hearken to this necessity based on his own convictions on Constitutional imperatives.