Yoruba leaders back Jonathan over confab report
• Court rejects bid to void parley decision
PROMINENT Yoruba leaders from the South West Thursday met in Ibadan, Oyo State capital to drum up support for President Goodluck Jonathan and the need for the south to vote for him in the rescheduled presidential polls.
Leaders at the summit convened by Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and tagged “ Mapping out the Future: The National Conference- 2015 Elections and the Yoruba Nation” said only the re-election of Jonathan would guarantee the implementation of the resolutions of the recently concluded national conference.
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court, Abuja Division Thursday rejected a request made by a constitutional lawyer, Dr. Tunji Abayomi to nullify the outcome of the National Conference that was held in Abuja last year.
The leaders comprising mostly members of the pan Yoruba socio cultural organisation, Afenifere include Pa Reuben Fasonranti, Chief Olu Falae, Ayo Adebanjo Senator Femi Okunrounmu, Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo (rtd), Chief Richard Akinjide, Ayo Ladigbolu, Prof Olu Agbi and Dr Kunle Olajide among others said the change we needed as a nation was not the change of personality but that of the constitution.
Mimiko, who is the south west coordinator of President Jonathan’s re-election committee set the tone for the conference which he said was aimed at mapping out the future of the Yoruba Nation through a thorough examination of where we are at the moment and where we are going to be if the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference are implemented.
He explained that the summit will help to map the future for the Yoruba Nation. It will illuminate our minds to the good times that await all Nigerians, and indeed the Yoruba Nation if the conference resolutions are implemented.
“We, the Yoruba people, are one of the most blessed ethnic nationalities in the world. Blessed with human and natural resources, we demonstrated during the First Republic that we could hold our own in the comity of other republics. This is why we are very strong in canvassing for the implementation of the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference as this would guarantee a return to that system where our forefathers proved their mettle to the rest of the world as brilliant administrators of men and resources. For us as Yoruba, no system is as potent enough to bring out the best in us as true federalism, a re-structured Nigeria where power is devolved and a land where our people would have power over the resources at their backyards.”
He reminded that the Yoruba nation was at the forefront of the agitation for the convocation of a National Conference saying with the eventual move by the president, the onus is on us as a race to support his reelection bid so that the resolutions in the confab report can be implemented.
Mimiko explained that the Confab report when implemented, will create room for each State to have its own constitution, its own police force, its own prison service, can create its own local governments, can build its own airports, seaports and railways and in addition; in the economic domain, solid minerals that had been the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government since independence, have now been brought to the concurrent list. States can now create employment and develop at their own pace.
Adebanjo, who chaired the meeting which was held at the Banquet Hall of the Premier Hotel traced the history of the Yoruba nation from the pre colonial era and the role played by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in repositioning the zone saying it would be too bad for the people of the zone to follow the likes of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate.
He said, “ why would Yoruba want to go backwards? Buhari is far from been the angel that they painted him to be. It is in the best interest of the Yoruba race to vote Jonathan to guarantee our freedom.”
The duo of former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State and Tony Uranta who spoke on behalf of the South East and South South respectively said no other government in the history of the country has done so well compared to the last four years of Jonathan’s administration.
Others at the meeting included; Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory(FCT), Jumoke Akinjide, Senator Lekan Balogun, former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP in the South, Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun, Alhaji Yekini Adeojo, National secretary of the PDP, Prof Wale Oladipo, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Frederick Fasheun, among others.
Abayomi approached the court to void the confab report on the contention that the conference which produced the said report was not properly constituted or convened as stipulated by the law.
The plaintiff, in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/ 167/204 and dated 3 March, 2014, maintained that President Goodluck Jonathan lacked the constitutional power to convoke or convene a National Conference without the express backing of a law ratified by the National Assembly.
Joined as defendants in the suit were the Attorney-General of the Federation, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The lawyer wanted the court to determine whether a National Conference can be convened by the President and/or government of Nigeria without a law made by the National Assembly enabling them to do so.
Though the suit was entered even before the conference began, however, following the decision of the Federal Government to proceed with it despite the pendency of the suit, the plaintiff, on March 18, withdrew his interlocutory motion to stop the confab, even as he urged the court to go ahead and determine its legality.
He further persuaded the court to join the Chairman of the conference and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Legbo Kutigi, the Vice Chairman, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi and the Secretary, Mrs Valerie Azinge as defendants in the suit on the ground that they were necessary parties.
His application to include them in the matter was not opposed by the defendants’ lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), who was also a participant at the conference.
The defendants however raised preliminary objections against the suit which they said was grossly bereft of merit.
They further queried the locus-standi of the plaintiffs to institute the action, even as they prayed the court to dismiss it.
While dismissing the suit yesterday, Justice Abdul Kafarati, agreed with the defendants, describing the suit as “a mere academic exercise”.
The court also held that the plaintiff failed to show how his personal rights were infringed upon.
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