From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, yesterday, said agitation for self-determination canvassed by some groups should not be seen as act of felony, saying the principle of self-determination by federating units was the pillar on which Nigeria was built at independence in 1960.
The monarch made the disclosure in a statement, entitled ‘A nation on trial of survival,’ made available to journalists in Ibadan. He hinged recent calls for restructuring, self-determination and true federalism to general suspicion of religious or ethnic affiliation in some public appointments by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO) and Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) have been at the forefront of agitation for Oduduwa Republic in the South West and Biafra Republic in the South East. Some groups have also been agitating for Arewa Republic in the North.
Said Adeyemi: “Suffice to recall that the principle of self-determination by the federating units was the pillar on which the country was built; 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. 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.”
Oba Adeyemi said the greatest act of patriotism to save the nation from imminent collapse remains “the courage to confess the truth that this is not the best moment for the country politically, economically and indeed security wise.”
“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 fore-bearers’ dream. I make bold to say that return to true federalism today is a necessary national imperative. Hence, I personally see the 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.
“The solution unfortunately has degenerated to the level of both ethnic and religious suspicion to levels 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.
“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.”