By OLUSESAN LAOYE
Since the coming of the present government to power under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Southwest has suffered the crisis of political direction as it has had to relegate its previous positions on the future of Nigeria in the new alliance with the conservative northwest geopolitical zone. The All Progressives Congress, APC, the ruling party today is a coalition of the two political zones.
Although the region is part of the present government with its son as then vice president, they are unease with the orientation of the government which they said is nepotic in the way appointments to critical positions had been distributed. They pointed to the control of the security agencies by one part of the country which has never happened before in the country.
Historically, the south west has always been the more progressive part of the country with its free education and other social services, which took its development levels above the other regions and also had in the past championed the restructuring of the country along federal principles. It leader, Chief Obafemi Awololo, devoted his political life to this goal, and the famous statement that “Nigeria is a mere geographical expression.”
However, the APC alliance seems to have deflated and defeated the progressive politics of the Yoruba. But with 2023 now in view, the old political dynamism seems to have been awakened as prominent sons of the region are pushing for a return to their Yoruba agenda.
One of such is the Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye, Enitan Ogunwusi the Ojaja 11 who recently emphatically declared that the Yoruba Nation would not play a second fiddle in the polity in Nigeria, especially in 2023. The statement appears to have far reaching effect and great significant to his people being a traditional ruler from a place said to be the cradle of the Yoruba race.
For the fact that the Ooni did not make the statement in an ordinary occasion and not outside the palace but inside it, where the Yoruba authority comes from, and when he was hosting Yoruba Youths, showed that he was defending the Yoruba interest. What the Ooni said was just to play back the position of the people which has been unanimously decided in 1978 and which came up again in 1998 when all Yoruba leaders, traditional rulers, civil societies Youth forums and intellectuals within and Diaspora converged to say that Nigeria would not move forward because the country suffers a structural defect and short comings to achieve any meaningful growth and cohesion as a nation.
At both gatherings the Yoruba believed that current structure and constitutional arrangements can also not give room for Nigeria as a country to evolve as a stable and united nation, unless there is devolution of power. This position has not for once changed but what is now heightening the quick evolution of this arrangement being canvassed, according to BusinessHallmark findings is the attitude of the present Federal government which they believed has made them to play a second fiddle in the scheme of things in Nigeria.
An average elder, leader and youth now believed that they are being marginalised especially by President Muhamnadu Buhari who they say in his first term in office never cared about any other ethnic group but his own Hausa / Fulani constituency, who occupied virtually all key and vital positions in government. This they say was unfair to other sections of the country who have been alienated. Virtually all those who spoke with BH in the region were of the opinion that President Buhari handled the affairs of the state in his first term with bias and as such they want drastic change and total departure from the status quo if truly he has fate in one Nigeria.
A chieftain of Afenifere and a legal luminary who spoke with BH on the expectation of the South west this time around from President Buhari, Chief Supo Sonibare posited that the structural arrangement in the country was instrumental to the way Nigerian leaders govern and this made them to do what they liked as President Buhari whom he argued has not done anything appreciable for the people of the south West.
He said that South West has observed structural defect since 1979 and the short comings that Nigeria can’t achieve any meaningful growth as a nation
He argued that South west is delusional because the country refused to listen to them that “our current structure and constitutional arrangement can never enable us to develop as a stable and united Nation. That is why the South West prescribed a devolved federation for the polity since 1998 and the whole Region has since then been unanimous in this prescription”.
According to him, our Obas, political leaders and civil Society groups agreed as a body to adopt a Yoruba agenda which prescribes a unicameral National Assembly and federating units exercising autonomy on the proceeds of all minerals within their territories as well as legislative and judicial powers and functions for matters on their legislative lists with the government of the federation being entitled by way of taxation of about 15% of the proceeds of income generated by states which he said was the way forward.
He said that with the Yoruba stand on this, the federal government will still be e titled to collect customs duties and offshore mineral extraction. Chief Sonibare, said the south West is worried about industrialisation which is being affected by inadequate power generation in the country, saying that President Buhari this time should make people see him as a nationalist and not as a sectional leader as anything short of this would not be accepted.
On the money for the Miyetti Allah, he warned that Buhari should not do what would set the entire nation on fire, arguing that it is unthinkable that a president would do that because if he fails to compensate farmers whose farms were destroyed, it would be a double standard and bad precedence. He also said for fairness though no justification for giving out the money, if the government would actually do that it must be extended to the Egbesu boys, Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) though they are not in the same category with the Miyetti Allah.
Also Ambassador Yemi Farounbi, a chieftain of the Social Democratic Party and who was the former Ambassador to the Philippines, said that south West did not benefit much from the Buhari government in his first term given the quantum of support given to him in the 2015 election. South West does not see Nigeria from narrow regional lens, saying that the zone will be in the forefront when there is the need to protect the interest of any person, citing the example of Alhaji Shugaba, when he was to be deported during the tenure of Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
South West, he argued wants good, transparent governance that will have direct impact and benefits to all Nigerians and greater attention to security irrespective of where the insecurity is in place.
According to him, people of the South west would want equity and .justice in appointments and that Buhari should respect the doctrine of federal character and geographical spread and enthronement of merit in appointments
He pointed out that South west does not expect Buhari to concentrate appointments in the hands of a particular ethnic nation to the exclusion of other ethnic nations because the region recognises that a great nation can only be built on mutual inclusiveness, mutual respect and mutual trust.
Ambassador Farounbi condemned the lopsidedness in appointments in the first term of President Buhari, saying that this should not continue especially the concentration of commanding heights of the “our security, economy and governance in the hands of particular ethnic nations.”
He reiterated the stand of the south West on restructuring, fiscal federalism as an essential component of restructuring and a reduction of the overburdening functions and resources of the centre and transfer of such to the federation units to strengthen the federating units so that they can serve as counterbalance to the centre.
In his reaction former commissioner for information in Osun State under Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Hon Sunday Akere said the security of the country is important and President Buhari should look into this in his second term because if care is not taken, the total system of governance would collapse, saying that no part of the county is safe as bandits have taken over farmlands and the highways.
He too like others wants the lopsidedness in a appointments of service Chiefs corrected because Nigeria belongs to all. On power shift he wants all sections treated equally, saying that the Igbo should now be considered for the Presidency.
The recognition of Miyatti Allah according to him, would lead to a time bomb which may end up energising other tribal groups into taking laws into their hands.
Former Press Secretary to the former governor of Oyo state, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo and former member of the Board of the broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), Mr Moses Olorode said that the second term of President Buhari is received with misgivings as they would want the reversal of the current state of the affairs of the nation and the tactics being applied to security should be changed.
He condemned the N100 billion said to be earmarked for the Miyatti Allah, saying that it was a clever way of enhancing the fire power of the Northern Jihadists. He said that President Buhari should either stop the payment or make it go round other militant groups in the southern parts of the country, while he should equally address the lopsidedness in appointments which is worrisome.
He wants youth employment to be intensified because unemployment has reached critical level while he canvassed for power to shift to the South in 2023. He argued that for a nation to develop there should be adequate power to drive the economy arguing that the peoples of the South West are worried that they don’t have sufficient energy to operate their industries which has been causing total set back to the economy of the Region.