THE YORUBA NATION AND THE DILEMMA OF BOLA AHMED TINUBU AND YEMI OSIBAJO IN THE BUHARI GOVERNMENT. By Prof. Toba Alabi.

In 1776,the United States fought a gruesome war of independence with Britain and eventually defeated the British imperialist forces.

After series of defeat in the 19th century and the attendant national humiliation Russia under Josef Stalin in the 1920s swore that no nation will ever again defeat Russia. At a point in the 19th century, Turkey that was widely referred to as the sick man of Europe defeated Russia. But with determination, strong resolve and patriotism, the United States and Russia defeated their oppressors once and for all to the point that when these two nations sneeze the entire world catches cold.

It is axiomatic in the field of strategic studies that for you to defeat your oppressors that you need power. Oppressors and bullies hardly relinquish power through dialogue and pacific settlement except when they are forced to an armistice after intense resistance.

To be sure, in every society there are bullies and oppressors that you must defeat.

The Yoruba nation has a history of oppression and humiliation in Nigeria and this must be addressed if as a nation they must develop. In the First Republic, through a high power conspiracy, Obafemi Awolowo, the eternal leader of the Yoruba was jailed and and army of occupation infiltrated the south west. In 1966, Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, the Governor of Western State was killed with Aguiyi Ironsi in Ibadan during a state visit.

Again, MKO Abiola won an election in 1993 but he died in a detention in 1998. Abacha jailed Obasanjo, killed Kudirat Abiola, Suliat Adedeji and tried to kill Generals Diya, Olanrewaju and Adisa. What did the Yoruba nation not suffer under Sani Abacha? Every imaginable form of indignity was meted out on them.

But what in the nature of power calculus and configuration in the north today?

The likes of General TY Danjuma that killed Ironsi and Fajuyi have come to realise that the concept of the one North is simply a myth. One North exists when one ethnic group rules over the others in the region and Nigeria. The northern minorities are the most subjugated today in Nigeria. It is therefore within this sad historical conjuncture that Danjuma called on Nigerians to defend themselves against the killer herdsmen.

Olusegun Obasanjo has now realized rather too late that his patriotic zeal for one Nigeria has been largely misplaced. About three years ago when he started observing the contradictions in the Buhari government, so many Yoruba including Tinubu called him names. But today the falcon is coming home to roost. With the clannishness in key appointments, the killer herdsmen and the Ruga Settlement Policy, the emerging supremacy of one ethnic group over others becoming manifest that this is the time to restructure Nigeria.

In the past four years, I had blasted Tinubu and Osibajo several times because of their refusal to press for true federalism and restructuring of Nigeria. But given changing realities in Nigeria today, one should attempt to develop a blueprint that would set the Yoruba nation from the shackle and manacles of ethno-religious bigotry and primordialism that make the corporate existence of Nigeria to totter on the verge of the precipice.

The helplessness and vulnerability of Tinubu and Osibajo are not hidden. They are operating in an extremely insular and pronvicial government that sees Nigeria from the prism of an ethnic group. Sadly, they do not have the real power to challenge the cabal in the Buhari government. The vulnerability of these gentlemen have been well captured by Femi Aribisala thus:

“Bola Tinubu, Yemi Osinbajo and other APC opportunists can no longer speak for the Yorubas in Nigeria. President Buhari cares for his people. But although he is president of Nigeria, his people are not the people of Nigeria. His people are the Fulanis in particular, and Northern Nigerians in general. That is the token of a “good politician.” A good politician promotes the interests of his people.

“But what happens to members of the president’s party who are neither Fulani nor Northern Nigerians? Can they also care for their people as the president does for his, and at the same time be in alliance with Mr. President?

” The evidence suggests they cannot and do not. They have watched in silence, without complaining, as the president filled major posts with his own people and ignored theirs. They have “siddon looked” as the entire security architecture of Nigeria was placed virtually exclusively in the hands of Northerners.

“They said nothing when the president illegally appointed his sister’s in-law, Amina Zakari, as acting chairman of INEC, flouting statutory regulations and without the required approval of the National Council of State. Cat caught their tongue when the president illegally appointed Ahmed Lawan Kuru as the managing director of Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) and named its executive directors without requisite Senate confirmation.

“They were missing in action when he removed illegally Nigeria’s Southern Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and replaced him with a Northerner.”

From the above, it is clear that Tinubu and Osibajo are indeed in a fix. But the pertinent question is: What options do they have to liberate their people and by extention the rest of the nation from this current internal colonialism? Just one.

Liberate the social forces in South west and begin a vigorous and unrelenting campaign for true federalism and restructuring of Nigeria. The south west has the human and material resources to be a prosperous region in Nigeria. While this is going on, you start reactivating your military and security prowess in case of possible attacks.

As an initial step, all cases of killing, kidnapping and raping of your wives and daughters by any element from within and outside the region must be poverised without any further delay.

Happily, the hitherto silent but powerful Yoruba voices are now alive. Wole Soyinka, Femi Falana , Femi Fani-Kayode ( emphasized mine ) and others have started speaking against many of the contradictions and clannishness of this government. And today, the whole of the South and Middle Belt are clamoring for a change. Even in the north west, the minorities are crying out. So, this is the time for true federalism and restructuring of Nigeria.

Then, it must be said emphatically to Tinubu and Osibajo that if their Governors steal and loot everything in sight without calling them to order, then disgrace and humiliaton await them. Without good governance, no leader could be acceptable to the people.

Chief Olu Falae, one of the greatest Yoruba leaders has provided a blueprint for true federalism and restructuring of Nigeria which I will like to share with my readers thus:

“You know I am a leader in the South West and at the National convention, I was elected as the leader of the Yoruba delegation. So, I am central to the Yoruba position. The Yoruba position is my position and it is the same position I canvassed in my book, ‘The way forward for Nigeria’ which I launched since 2005 in Lagos. What we mean by restructuring is going back to the Independence Constitution which our leaders negotiated with the British between 1957 and 1959. It was on that basis that the three regions agreed to go to Independence as one united country. So, it was a negotiated constitution. This is because, if the three regions were not able to agree, there would not have been one united independent Nigeria. But because the three regions at that time negotiated and agreed to package a constitution, that is why they agreed to go to Independence together. When the military came in 1966 and threw away the constitution, they threw away the negotiated agreement among the three regions, which was the foundation of a united Nigeria.

“So, the military did not only throw away the constitution but a political consensus negotiated and agreed by our leaders of the three regions in those days. When we say restructuring now, we are saying let us go back substantially to that constitution which gave considerable autonomy to the regions. For example, each region at that time collected its revenue and contributed the agreed proportion to the centre. But when the military came, they turned it round and took everything to the centre. That could not have been accepted by Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe or Obafemi Awolowo.

This constitution we are using was made by late Gen Sani Abacha and the military; and Abacha came from only one part of Nigeria, so he wrote a constitution that favoured his own part of Nigeria. That is why I am saying, let us restructure and go back to what all of us agreed before. That is the meaning of restructuring. The regions used to be federating units, but in today’s Nigeria, they would now be called federal regions because states have been created in the regions.

So in the West, you now have federation of Yoruba states which would belong to the Nigerian union at the centre. So, it is not like the region of old with all the powers. No. It is now going to be a coordinator of the states in the zone. That is what we mean by restructuring. And the regions would have a considerable autonomy as they used to have. For example, for the younger people, they may not know that every region then had its own constitution.

“There were four constitutions at independence –the Federal constitution, Western constitution, Eastern constitution and Northern constitution. That was how independent they were and every region had an ambassador in London. The ambassadors for the regions were called Agent General so that you do not confuse them with that of Nigeria then called High Commissioner. So, Nigeria had four ambassadors in London. The ambassador for Nigeria then called a High Commissioner was M.T Mbu. The ambassador for Eastern Nigeria then was Mr Jonah Chinyere Achara, Western Nigeria was Mr Omolodun and for Northern Nigeria, it was Alhaji Abdulmalik. There were four of them. That was the kind of arrangement we agreed to, but the military threw it away and gave us this over-centralised unitary constitution. So, we said this is not acceptable any more; we must go back to the negotiated constitution which gave considerable autonomy to the regions, so that they can compete in a healthy manner.

For example, Chief Obafemi Awolowo wanted to introduce free education in the West and other regions said they could not afford it, but he went ahead to introduce it in the Western region. He said he wanted to pay a minimum of five shillings a day, while others were paying two and three shillings. He went ahead and passed the law, making five shillings the minimum wage in Western Nigeria.

“There was no problem with that. In Western Nigeria, the constitution provided for a House of Assembly and the House of Chiefs. In Eastern Nigeria, there was no House of Chiefs because they did not think they needed one. There was no problem with that and that is the kind of Nigeria we negotiated in London, but that is different from what we have today. So, we are saying let us go back to that arrangement which all of us agreed at independence and not what Abacha imposed on us, which is very partial, unfair and one-sided. That is the meaning of restructuring; it is to restructure unfairness and give semi-autonomy to the federating units.”

In conclusion, Bola Tinubu and Yemi Osibajo, whether the Yoruba will see you as true leaders or vallains depends on what you do with good governance in the south west and true federalism and restructuring of Nigeria.

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