Nigeria may be living on borrowed times if the clamour for restructuring continues to fall on deaf ears, the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) has warned after a meeting at the weekend.
ARG, a welfarist socio-political group, lamented the molestation of Nigerians across geo-political divides and the economic deprivation of Yoruba peasant farmers from their legitimate occupation.
The group expressed these concerns in a three-page communique issued after a three-day retreat held In Ijebu-Imushin, Ijebu East Local East Government Area, Ogun State Recently.
The agitation for restructuring started in 1993 after the annulment of June 12 presidential election presumed to have been won by the late business mogul, Chief M.K.O. Abiola. The agitation led to civil transition on May 29, 1999.
In 2005, Obasanjo convened the National Political Reforms Conference in response to popular demands then. But the conference ended abruptly amid allegations of a third term agenda by the former president.
Also, former President Goodluck Jonathan convened the National Conference in 2014 under late Justice Idris Kutigi to address imbalance and injustice that characterised the federal system.
In 2018, lastly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) set up a Committee on True Federalism to devolve more powers to the federating units. But the report of the committee had been dumped in the archive of history.
Given these failed attempts to restructure Nigeria, the ARG, in its communique, called elected officials from the South-west to align strongly with the wishes of their people and subjugate their personal interest to that of their people.
The communique noted that the unshaken faith of the Yoruba people in the need to restructure Nigeria was captured in the Yoruba Agenda in 2005 as “Regional Autonomy or Nothing.”
It warned that the recalcitrance of the ruling clique and the presidency “can only push moderate Yoruba people to the wall, as can be derived from the present clamour for self-determination.
“Nigeria may therefore be living on borrowed times as long as the strident calls for restructuring continue to fall on deaf ears. We therefore reaffirm the need for an urgent restructuring of Nigeria.
“The debate that preceded the implementation of Amotekun security initiative, the ‘inchoate’ nature of local council development authorities and the ongoing furore over collection and distribution of Value Added Tax (VAT) are symptoms of the breakdown of trust within the federation, especially between the federal and state governments.”
It, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari “to acknowledge that he is not the only one in love with Nigeria’s continued existence, Yorùbá self determination activists do, just that there must be justice and equity for all Nigerian citizens.
“If however these are denied as the 1999 Constitution perpetually does, they should not be blamed for their clamour,” the ARG observed in its three-page communique.
It expressed grave concern about the debilitating insecurity incidents across the country, which amongst others include kidnapping, maiming, molestation of Nigerians and in particular the economic deprivation of Yoruba peasant farmers from their legitimate occupation,
It condemned the lethargy of all the security agencies that should have nipped these violent acts in the bud, and called on all security agencies to awaken fully to their responsibility.
It, therefore, called on all the governments in Yorubaland “to as a matter of urgency collaborate with one another to strengthen the Amotekun security agency to enable them offer reasonable level of protection to people in their domain.
“They should also explore the place of formal and informal intelligence gathering systems in the resolution of the problems in their joint domain,” the communique said.
The communique called on Ogun State Governor, Mr. Dapo Abiodun to sign the Anti-Open Grazing Bill, 2021 into law since the State House of Assembly had passed the bill.
The communique, however, commended the Governors of Southern Nigeria States for their boldness in enacting a law that bans open grazing and herding of cattle.
It, therefore, called for strict enforcement of this law and charged the community and our traditional leaders to help in the enforcement effort.
It, also, implored all governments in Yorubaland “to consider and implement as a matter of urgency agricultural policies that would assure the region sufficient food security, and also contribute to the livestock production basket of the whole country.” – Thisday.