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Group urges South-West Houses of Assembly to sign referendum bill for speedy development

By Rotimi Agboluaje, Ibadan
16 May 2022   |   2:42 am
A socio-political organisation, Yoruba Referendum Committee (Agbajoowo), yesterday, urged Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states’ Houses of Assembly to pass into law the bill

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A socio-political organisation, Yoruba Referendum Committee (Agbajoowo), yesterday, urged Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states’ Houses of Assembly to pass into law the bill for a referendum, which has already been sent to them twice for action.

The group hinged its call on the Yoruba aphorism that says, “One’s head cannot be shaved in his/her absence”, saying that the 1999 Constitution shaved the peoples’ heads in their absence.

It, therefore, urged the Houses of Assembly to rise to the occasion, especially as the demand is supported by a growing number of Yoruba who has signed the petition to that effect.

In a statement signed by Mr. Femi Odedeyi and Mr. Shenge Rahman, the committee submitted that current suggestions by notable Yoruba individuals and organisations advocating a Government of National Unity or Interim Government are direct means of subverting the legitimate quest for true federalism in Nigeria.

It further argued that such a move denied the sacrosanct of the people in whom power resides but tends to arrogate power and authority to the leadership, saying: “Being the creator of the problem in the first instance, such leadership cannot be the solution.”

The committee, while emphasising that it is not calling for the cancellation or boycott of the 2023 elections, recalled that in 1960 when the idea of a Government of National Unity was proposed by the Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC), the Action Group (AG) rejected it on the ground that such a coalition government was not feasible between two political parties of vastly divergent political philosophies.

It added that the Interim Government of 1993 was instituted as a half-measure to address the crisis emanating from the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections, saying that because of its shaky foundation, it did not take long for the military that set it up to torpedo it.

“There is no evidence to date that the political upheaval or crisis engendered by the ‘June 12 annulment’ has disappeared to warrant such calls. Instead of the said crisis abating, problems of structure and power relation in the country are getting worse by the day,” the group said.

The group then maintained that the option before the Yoruba is to organise a referendum within Yorubaland to decide the framework for their aspirations and self-actualisation, while also advocating a similar template for other people of Nigeria to facilitate the federalisation of the country.

In advancing this course of action, the group noted that the only period of social and economic development experienced in Nigeria was during the federal and regional administrations attested to by the references to the Western Region as “our Golden Era” by the Yoruba, and lately, the Buhari administration’s recourse to showcasing its economic achievements via the “Rice Pyramid” – an admission of the developments in the then Northern Region as exemplified by the “Groundnut Pyramids.”

The group further stated that despite the limitations of that period, the Western Region between 1951 and 1959 under Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was and is still recognised as the “Golden Era,” which the 1960 Independence Act and the 1963 Constitution attempted to later neutralise by the virtue of their pernicious provisions.

The group contended that given the historical political reality of Nigeria, it was clear that what is today regarded as ‘our Golden Era’ occurred when we were practising a parliamentary system of government.

It, therefore, advocated a return to that system of government, which ensured less monetisation of electoral politics, as there was no need for even a region-wide canvass for votes to become the Premier. This is in sharp contrast to what obtains today under the presidential system, in which gubernatorial and presidential elections cost a colossal amount of money, which keeps increasing with every electoral cycle.

The Yoruba referendum committee insisted that what it is advocating now could be achieved without having to postpone it till when successors of those in power currently come to take over.

It also urged those in the corridors of power now to make “this referendum a priority as it represents the collective aspirations of the people.”