By Dele Awogbeoba
The Yoruba have come a long way since the days of Goodluck Jonathan. Goodluck Jonathan’s government was without a doubt Nigeria’s most anti-Yoruba government ever surpassing even Abacha’s government in giving effect to a most egregious anti Yoruba agenda. Afenifere, that group of self appointed leaders with no political followership within Yoruba land, not only supported the government of Goodluck Jonathan but actively campaigned for its re-election.
Between 1999 and 2003, The Afenifere led Aliance for Democracy (“AD”) held power in almost all states of the SW. Basking in its purported association with the great Obafemi Awolowo, the Yoruba people of the South West entrusted its political authority in the AD which was under the firm grip of Afenifere. It took all but 4 years to expose the incompetence of these pretenders and their markedly undemocratic way and short sighted attempt at governance within the SW and political leadership of the Yoruba. By 2003, the AD was down to one governor. That one governor was being pressured, hectored and dictated to by that self same Afenifere until he set up his own party and went his own way. That Governor has turned that party into the party of governance at the national level and with his advance projected the Yoruba nation to its greatest political strength outside of when a Yoruba man directly held the position of either Head of state or president of Nigeria.
Let’s be very clear. Afenifere supported Buhari in 2007 at a time when Buhari’s running mate was non-Yoruba and at a time his ethnocentric impulses were at its worst. This same Afenifere also supported GEJ in 2015 when it became clear to the Yoruba nation that the government of GEJ was implementing an insidious anti-Yoruba agenda. Today, Afenifere is doing all to Sabotage the current alliance between the Yoruba and the Buhari government not because of any matter of principle but because of its jealousy about the success of that one time governor Govenor of Lagos state whose party has morphed into the party of governance at the Federal level and whose Yoruba contingent hold positions of power and influence under Buhari.
Today, the Yoruba have a respected and efficient Vice president who has acted many times as Acting President. It has powerful ministries in the form of Power, Works, Finance and Communications. The Yoruba overseas the countries economic team and the bulk of the most critical infrastructural works currently being undertaken are passing through Yoruba land. The Lagos –Kano rail will link Nigeria’s Agricultural centre with Yoruba land and all the way to Lagos. The East –west rail will link the countries Oil and Gas nerve centre with Yoruba land and Lagos. In terms of political power and critical infrastructure, the alliance between Tinubu and Buhari has proven itself to be an alliance that has actually benefited the Yoruba nation on a number of levels despite the initial schisms after the election. The Yoruba know full well what we got out of our alliance with Goodlucl Jonathan after we gave him our support in 2011 and after we influenced Yar Adua to pick him as vice in 2007.
Today, Afenifere has been criticizing Tinubu for going into an Alliance with Buhari without doing proper checks. The same Afenifere that gave Buhari its endorsement in 2007 at a time when they could not even influence Buhari to pick a Yoruba as is vice.
Now, Afenifere is trying to sabotage the Yoruba advance. They have now fully keyed into a 6 region structure with each “zone” having equal representation in NASS. That would effectively reduce Yoruba power and influence and voting share with NASS from its current 21% (which is in line with our projected per centage of the Nigerian population) to 16%. Typical of Afenifere, They have ignored the reality of the fact that the 6 region proposal was one of two options propagated by the igbos to either increase the igbo political power through the creation of an extra state or bring other tribes to its level be going back to a six region structure with all major tribes having 16% voting power at NASS. True to type, Afenifere has now jumped on board to advocate a political structure that actually weakens not strengthens the Yoruba influence and power to protect its current and future generations with the larger Nigerian family.
A group incapable of understanding the fact that the Yoruba ignored its advice to vote for president Jonathan in 2015 just as the Yoruba ignored their endorsement of Buhari in 2007. Afenifere does not command the followership of the Yoruba nation as expressed through the ballot box. Its dubious Ibadan gathering is more of the same shameful actions of a despised octogenarian organization resentful of its lack of influence. Its focus has long been regression. Its very essence is to harp back to the past. It is in many ways fighting the sands of time. It wants to go back to life in the 1960’s. It hearkens back to when Yoruba land was an agrarian society with Cocoa as its main commodity. It hearkens back to the 1960 constitution when we all know that at the time Awolowo had become increasingly frustrated at the fact that the North did not even have to campaign in the south to be guaranteed political power at the centre. The North had been allocated most seats in parliament and its leader will automatically become Prime Minister. Today, time has ensured that the core North can no longer just reduce itself to the North. It must come to the south and negotiate with the South to win and retain power just as the south must go to the North and negotiate with the North if its must win and retain power. Since 1999, Nigeria has had two Southern and two Northern presidents. All four had to share power to some extent with groups in other regions. As Nigeria’s elections are becoming more transparent, need for alliances across North and South becomes more acute. All Nigerians benefit from that.
Nigerians are indeed very funny people. Resource control or the need to keep more revenue that comes from ones area is actually the easiest of the major reforms to achieve. That does not require a new constitution or a change to the existing one. Section 162 sub section 2 of the Nigerian constitution provides:
“(2) The President, upon the receipt of advice from the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, shall table before the National Assembly proposals for revenue allocation from the Federation Account, and in determining the formula, the National Assembly shall take into account, the allocation principles especially those of population, equality of States, internal revenue generation, land mass, terrain as well as population density;
Provided that the principle of derivation shall be constantly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than thirteen per cent of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly from any natural resources.”
The critical words being “NOT LESS THAN THIRTEEN PER CENT”. All the proponents of fiscal federalism needs to do is to get the support of a single majority within NASS to review upwards the derivation principle.
The present constitution clearly needs on going amendments to keep up with developments over time and merited agitations. That is for the political leadership of the people elected to represent various senate and house of reps districts to advance. The ridiculous sight of Odumakin stating he has a mandate to negotiate with other regions on a basis of a gathering of unelected people in Ibadan is an affront to the Yoruba nation.
The Sabotage of the Yoruba nation by an unelected group of upstarts must stop.