The Yoruba race have threatened to break away from Nigeria if the ongoing National Conference does not grant them regional autonomy, accusing the northern delegates of trying to frustrate the Yoruba by kicking against their demands.
At a news conference on Monday in Lagos, Nigeria, the Yoruba, under the aegis of The Yoruba People of Nigeria formally presented a publication on ‘Regional Autonomy or Nothing,” saying that they are ready to secede from Nigeria if the conference fails to meet their demands.
Chief Tokunbo Ajasin, Chairman, Atayese Yoruba Group, said one would expect that all should seize any opportunity to build consensus and reclaim the country from wrong-footed ideas and practices that brought Nigeria to this sorry state where it is difficult to imagine a better future.
“We are therefore baffled at the take-it-or-Ieave-it attitude of delegates from other ethnic nationalities, particularly the Northern delegates who circulated a document full of fallacies few weeks ago. Those fallacies have now been exposed by the facts and figures contained in the publication we are unveiling today.
“It is inconceivable that northern leaders are the ones leading the campaign against devolution of power and restructuring of government. If any region needs a stronger federating unit with greater capacity to provide education, health, security, wealth creation and other social amenities, it is the North where strong links exist between the level of poverty and conscription of innocent youths into extremist tendencies.
“It appears Northern leaders are not concerned, and indeed have no plan for the teeming youth from the region, as long as they are able to continue clinging to their hold on power. However, we are never in doubt that Regionalism is the most viable instrument for a stronger and united Nigeria,” he stated.
He said the states in Yoruba land wanted a regional government with its own constitution and unfettered political and fiscal autonomy, except on issues it agrees to cede to the federal government. Saying that the South West Region must include all Yoruba people outside the imposed artificial boundaries in Edo, Delta, Kogi and Kwara States.
Ajasin added that the Yoruba people demanded a negotiated legislative Exclusive, Concurrent and Residual list, a unicameral legislature at the centre, a parliamentary form of government at the centre and the right to self determination on and up to the right to secede.
“We are demanding a just and equitable taxation system that will treat the federating units with equality and better coordination at the federal level in order to eliminate the current rentier syndrome. We demand Fiscal Federalism and Resource Control, a system whereby a substantial part of the proceeds accruable from every federating unit will be retained and an agreed percentage contributed to the center by the federating units for the responsibility of the Federal government.
“We want the establishment of Regional Police and a new people‘s constitution: the resolutions and conclusions of the 2014 National Conference shall lead to an autochthonous Constitution, that is a home-grown and all inclusive draft that shall be submitted to the Nigerian electorate voting in a Referendum,” he said.
According to him, the Yoruba wanted a special status to be granted to Lagos since the state would continue to be the economic nerve centre of Nigeria and the West African sub-Region, “hence, there shall be an appropriate budgetary provision that is part of the First Line Charge in the Federation Account.
“We are not enforcing our demands on others. They are free to explore whatever suits them while we should be free to organise our governance the way it suits us
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