Eminent Yoruba leaders, supported by the leadership of the South-East and South South, have demanded an immediate restructuring of Nigeria through regional lines, for the country to experience real peace and development.
The leaders met at the main bowl of the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, Ibadan, yesterday and recalled with nostalgia the great strides made by the Yoruba nation in the years of self-government up till the abrogation of the federal constitution in 1966.
The leaders noted that the giant strides recorded in the era of self-government were evident in mass literacy, novel infrastructure and progress in all spheres of human development.
A legal luminary, Chief Afe Babalola, who chaired the summit, said: “I, respectfully, disagree with the few Nigerians who are opposed to restructuring. They are entitled to their opinions. The only change that can change the country and pave way for nationhood is the change that changes the structure of project Nigeria.
“No amount of sermon can change the country. It is that change that will bring about the necessary interest and determination to succeed. That change is the restructuring of the country.
“It is restructuring that would curb over-concentration of power in the centre and reduce corruption, promote harmony and unity and make the country metamorphose into a nation.”
Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, said: “They want us to talk about the truth or lies. But we will say the truth. They can throw the words away, but they can’t throw us away. Our fathers, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ladoke Akintola and other Yoruba leaders, tried their best for us.
“But you elders of Yoruba are the problem we have. We are our problems. We’ve had good meetings like this one, attended by elders and kings of Yoruba. After this summit, you will see some so called Yoruba leaders saying on television ‘we don’t need restructuring.’ To me, those words do not make sense. There is no alternative; we will go back to regions.”
Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, who commended all people who had helped in moving Yoruba nation forward, however, cautioned those moving the motion for restructuring.
Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu, daughter of the late Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, said: “There is absolutely nothing in the campaign for restructuring or federalism or devolution of powers that portend any form of negative outcomes for our other compatriots or, indeed, for Nigeria.”
In the sane vein, the scion of Adekunle Ajasin, Tokunbo Ajasin, also noted that Yoruba nation should think of Oduduwa Republic.
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, who led a high powered delegation of South East, which included a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Ike Nwachukwu and former Minister of Information, Dr. Walter Ofonagoro, to the summit, also said: “Is it wrong to have a say in your country? Is it right to be ruled by a document that you are not party to? What you are saying today is that the people of Nigeria must have a say in the way they are governed. It is not only the Yoruba nation that is saying it, we the Igbo are saying it loud and clear.
“Many people have tried to destroy restructuring and I am saying it is a ploy by some Nigerians to monopolise the God-given mineral resources in Southern Nigeria. I think those who are doing this do not love Nigeria.”
Former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, said: “If Nigeria is not restructured, if we do not have regional restructuring, I will tell you this for free, let us prepare for Oduduwa Republic, end of story. That is the feeling of majority of our people.
“Nobody can silence the Yoruba, nobody can hold us down, we shall go forth in power in the name of Jesus.”
A leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum, Chief Albert Horsfall, in his remarks, noted that the people of his region started restructuring long ago, adding that agitation for restructuring of Nigeria depends on control of physical energy by each region. He stated that each region should have the statutory rights to control “what you produce or what your soil produces.”
Also, National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) has expressed support for the clamour for restructuring of the polity. Chairman of the Forum, Solomon Asemota, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), urged the federal government to hearken to the calls of different segments of the society for a restructuring of the country.
Asemota also called for a return to the 1963 constitution, which was abrogated when the military took over power in 1966. He made the call yesterday when he led members of the group on a courtesy visit to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national headquarters, Abuja.
In an address entitled, “Need for politics of nationalism,” the NCEF leader decried the state of affairs in the country.
“We recommend immediate government’s response to the yearning of majority of Nigerians for restructuring. As an immediate step, a return to the Republican Constitution of 1963 would be a good starting point,” Asometa stated.
He regretted that many years after independence, the country is drifting towards intolerance, hatred and ill will.
He said: “We’re amazed at the amount of hatred, intolerance, ill-will, discrimination and contentions that have engulfed the country. If the situation is not checked, the youths might (sic) be provoked into taking the law into their hands. Already, they are becoming impatient after experiencing unfulfilled promises by those who are in government while the country keeps stagnating.
“It is difficult to understand that a country that could successfully prosecute a civil war, and fought for peace in the ECOWAS sub-region and stabilised West Africa cannot contain insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, ritual killings, militancy and cyber crime.”
In his response, PDP National Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, reiterated the party’s support for the restructuring of the country.
Makarfi, who thanked the forum for the visit, admonished members of the group to guard against giving a religious colouration to their demands.