From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, has said that agitations for ethnic self-determination across the country should not be regarded as an act of felony, saying the principle of self-determination by the federating units was the pillar on which Nigeria was built at Independence in 1960.
The first-class monarch made the remark in a statement entitled: “A Nation on Trial of Survival,” which he personally endorsed and made available to reporters in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital on Wednesday
In the South West, scores of self-determination groups under the Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO) in Yorubaland have been calling for an “Oduduwa Republic”, while in the South East, the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) has been playing a leading role in calling for a “Biafra Republic”. Similar calls have been made by groups in the North, calling for an “Arewa Republic”.
According to the Yoruba ruler: ‘Suffice to recall that the principle of self-determination by the federating units was the pillar on which the country was built,’ noting that ‘at the London pre-constitutional conference in 1959, that was the proposal of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the Action Group which the Sardauna, Sir Ahmadu Bello, shared with him.
‘The principle was that areas like agriculture, local government and chieftaincy affairs should be left to the state to develop their regions. It was proceeds from agricultural resources that led to the famous Cocoa House, Liberty Stadium and the First Television Station in Africa among others.
‘The North later too diverted the groundnut proceeds to build the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Northern Nigeria Television among others at that time. In other words, competitive development was the bedrock of self-determination. Unfortunately, things have degenerated at the moment to the level of seeing any call for self-determination as an act of felony by some people.
‘In fact, what had heightened the call for restructuring, self-determination and true federalism in recent time is the general suspicion of either religious or ethnic in some public appointments. In this respect, the call for federal balancing, equity and justice in national appointments, including the security agencies can never be overemphasised. This is the only thing that can restore our confidence in the country of our political forebearers’ dream.’
Oba Adeyemi said at the present stage of the country, the greatest act of patriotism to save Nigeria from imminent collapse ‘is the courage to confess the truth that, this is not the best moment for the country politically, economically and indeed security-wise.
‘The solution, unfortunately, has degenerated to the level of both ethnic and religious suspicion to levels that had been unprecedented in the history of the country. The situation in the country is so fragile that one can hardly see any genuine intention in the security agencies including the Customs Service without reading bias into it.
‘I make bold to say that return to true federalism today is a necessary national imperative. Hence, I personally see a return to federalism that will devolve power to the States as another word for restructuring which is gaining currency across the country at the moment.
‘Going back to the principal history of the country before and after amalgamation, the Alaafin remains a major stakeholder on behalf of the Yoruba nation. Because as the reigning Alaafin, I cannot fold my arms and see that beautiful structure called Nigeria collapse,’ the Alaafin stated.