Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), yesterday said Nigeria is at a crossroad based on its battles with numerous challenges such as insecurity, unemployment, poverty and disease ravaging the country.
YCE said the nation is suffering from governance deficit.
The council made the disclosure in a communique issued at the end of a meeting held in Ibadan. The meeting was presided over by the council’s National President, Ademola Bakre.
The YCE also condemned the recent act of taking a bill from Nigeria to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is on a private visit to the United Kingdom, to append his signature, saying: “The YCE is not happy that Mr. President is signing that bill in the United Kingdom, especially when we have an effective government in place, and when it has been the practice of Mr. President to hand over to the vice president anytime he had to go abroad, and the vice president would take over the activities of government. We are not happy about that.”
The communique, read by the Secretary General of the council, Kunle Olajide, stated that YCE believes the centralised unitary system of government in a heterogeneous country has been responsible for the dilapidated infrastructure, dysfunction educational system and unemployment, besetting the country.
“Unemployment of young graduates is on the increase. Nigeria has now been declared as the ‘poverty capital’ of the world.
“YCE, however, applauds President Buhari’s determination to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years, but regrets to say as long as this unitary system of government is not abolish for enthronement of a truly federal structure that pronouncement will remain a dream.
“The administration must urgently revisit the 2014 national conference resolution and the El-Rufai Committee report on devolution of powers if the country must make progress. Necessary bills, including Bill on Referendum must be forwarded without delay to the National Assembly and state Assemblies for the required constitutional amendment.”
The YCE also noted that Nigeria is urgently in need of economic diversification from oil, saying: “The quickest and most appropriate route to it, is granting autonomy to the federating units (states) to explore and exploit the resources within their borders and deploy such resources according to their priorities.”
The council stated that until 2015, insecurity challenges, including kidnapping, murder and banditry were limited to the North East, with occasional spillover to North Central and Abuja, adding that Boko Haram insurgency has been largely decimated but kidnapping, murder banditry, herders’ farmers clashes have enveloped the six zones of the country.
The YCE also said federal roads all over the country “are in bad shape. Most of the roads within the states must revert to the state and only major roads linking states should belong to the Federal Government for effective maintenance.
“Operation Positive Identification by the military is definitely a misplaced priority and a distraction for the military, which should be busy protecting our country from invasion by ISIS and Boko Haram. The military cannot afford this distraction in these trying times since Nigeria is not in a state of emergency. If need be, the operation should be restricted to the North East.”
The council also commended the collaborative efforts of the South West governors in confronting and checkmating the security challenge in the zone, urging them to vigorously pursue the economic integration agenda of the zone.
The council also said it would constitute a committee to interface with the governments of Oyo and Osun states on amicable resolution of the face-off between the owner states of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), adding that if one state could not be allowed to own the institution fully, the two states should have fixed budgetary allocations to fund the university.