Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, one of the Yoruba States whose House of Assembly is expected to pass the Law for a Referendum as part of the Yoruba Resolution on True Federalism in Nigeria, is now advocating condensing the Nikki Tobi, 2014 Jonathan Conference and the APC Committee’s Reports on True Federalism, into a single proposition, wrapped around “devolution” and “Fiscal Federalism” and which will be subjected to a Nigerian countrywide Referendum.
With the stubborn reality of the National Question in Nigeria continuing to stare everyone in the face with its claws and fangs threatening to shred the entire body into messy and bloody pieces, an interesting rally around the clamor for REFERENDUM, as the PATHWAY towards RESOLUTION appears to be building up and gaining greater traction even in unlikely quarters.
The Yoruba referendum committee has found it necessary and indeed urgent to intervene in the growing clamor for the purpose of critical clarification lest the self-determination mission the referendum concept and process is to midwife be appropriated and converted by forces opposed to it!
Restructuring is about the Peoples in their cultural and existential self-conception(s)and expressions. The discourse on and advocacy for the Federalist Reconstitution of Nigeria must therefore be put in the context by which the Peoples of the Nationalities pursue the Referendum as a methodology to express their wishes rather than subordinate them to electoral, partisan representation thereby asserting their globally recognized right to Self-Determination.
The peaceful and most practical way towards attaining this goal is for each of the Nationalities in Nigeria to organize and hold a Referendum within the Nationality/Constituent Unit as the first step, hence our emphasis on a Yoruba Referendum.
Looking towards a countrywide Referendum to be supervised by the Nigerian Post-Colonial State, as advocated by Governor Fayemi of Ekiti State, already gives victory to the Post-Colonial state, who, by this, will determine the Referendum Question, and which, by definition will be at variance with the needs and aspirations of the various Peoples in Nigeria.
Furthermore, a countrywide Referendum denies the reality of the perfection of the Post-Colonial State’s continuity through a paradigm anchored on an electoral veto based on a combination of votes from the North West and East, enabling them to determine any outcome, and this, despite any handshake across any river(s), considering the history of relationships since the anti-colonial era to the present.
Moreover, the Referendum for the creation of the Mid-Western Region in 1963 was conducted among only the people of the Mid-West and not the whole of Nigeria; the Northern and Southern Cameroon Referendum was carried out among the Peoples of the Cameroons and not with all of Nigeria, even as they were still part of Nigeria; the Scottish Referendum for Independence was conducted among the Scots; the Catalonia Referendum only among the Catalans; Quebec Independence Referendum within the Province of Quebec in Canada, just as the recently concluded New Caledonian Independence Referendum, conducted in New Caledonia and not in all of France.
In all these instances, National Parliaments exist, yet there were no countrywide Referendums organized by these National Parliaments as the final arbiter of the wishes of their Peoples. There is therefore no reason why the Nationalities and Peoples inside Nigeria cannot conduct their own Referendums.
A Constitution as the “basic law” of a society embodies the socio-cultural essence of the People; it aggregates their existential paradigms; and for the Yoruba Nation, her time-honored values drive the Nation’s civilization and this cannot simply be made dependent on other Peoples.
The Nigerian Post-Colonial-State exists in contradiction to these values thereby denying us the right and consequently the ability to pursue micro and macro-Economic policies that will result in the development of social and economic relationship between, on the one hand, the Yoruba (including those in Kwara and Kogi States) and the various Nationalities within Nigeria, and on the other, the Yoruba Diaspora, that is, the Yoruba in other West African countries, Brazil, Cuba, the U.S, the West Indies and South America, without the overriding legislative power of the Nigerian Union.
This is the precondition for the redevelopment of the human capabilities of the various Nationalities, in abeyance since Colonial intrusion, with Language being a preeminent factor in development, as had been proven by many scholars of development, including Babatunde Aliyu Fafunwa; Ayo Bamgbose; Kayode Fakinlede et al.
With many in the Yoruba Nation very worried about the decline and gradual disappearance of Yoruba Language, its utilization in the production and reproduction of knowledge will not only address these worries but also generate economic activity on a vast scale. This will be impossible without the largest degree of Autonomy for the Yoruba Nation.
This Autonomy cannot be achieved by either a “devolution of power” from the center to Yorubaland or “fiscal federalism”. Devolution implies the existence of a center that will devolve or “give away” some of its powers while retaining a residual power to take back what it has given away. Therefore, seeking “devolution”, without neutralizing the retention of power by the devolving entity means that devolving power does not necessarily arrive at a Federation.
“Fiscal Federalism”, reduced to issues about reductions or increases in the amount of allocations from the Center, denies the control of economic and fiscal policies by the communities, whereby those communities (Federating Units) determine what is to go to the Center for its operations; and this, raising the question as to who or what the Federating Unit is: the Peoples or the States.
The States as we have them, are mere administrative entities created by military fiat and decreed into existence as “Federating Units”, sealed by the Unitarist Constitution thereby making them subservient to the Center, a complete travesty of the theory and practice of Federalism, and mandating the reordering of the Nigerian Experiment.
The Peoples, on the other hand, are the cultural and social occupiers of the geographical space, who may or may not want to create a Union with other Peoples, already in existence in their own geographical spaces and decide to administer themselves as they deem fit, be it as states, regions, cities, or villages.
These (and more) are why the Yoruba Referendum Committee says the only way to address, all of the above is for the Yoruba Nation and People to, in a Referendum within Yorubaland, determine the framework for their aspirations and self-actualization which then become the foundation for Constitutional Re-Formation of the Nigerian Post-Colonial State.
This, the Yoruba Referendum Committee has defined as a “Federal Nigeria, through a valid Federal Constitution, to be known as “The Union of Nigerian Constituent Nationalities, with a Federal Presidential Council, whose members will be selected or elected from each of the Nationalities as Federating Units and from whom a Head of State will be selected or elected as the primus-inter-pares with an agreed term.”