OUR DEMAND FOR INDEPENDENT STATEHOOD
The Yoruba One Voice Worldwide represents a broad spectrum of Yoruba people comprising of opinion and community leaders, intelligentsia, professionals, business owners, the working class and students of tertiary institutions residing both in Nigeria and Diaspora.
The Yoruba nation inhabits the Western area of Nigeria which is considered as her original homeland. During the glorious reign of the Oyo Empire, the Rule of the Alaafin of Oyo extended to Dahomey, which in the present day is called the Republic of Benin. Owing to the slavery which decimated the original Yoruba homeland, Yoruba people are now found in Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, etc. where the Yoruba language, customs, tradition, culture and values have been preserved and are important ingredients of their daily lives. In total, Yoruba people have an estimated population of 50 million, majority of whom live in Nigeria
Throughout history, the Yoruba people have exhibited excellence in every aspect of human endeavour. Samuel Ajayi-Crowther was the first Anglican African Bishop. The first Nigerian lawyer was Sapara Williams, while Wole Soyinka is the first African Nobel Laureate. In politics, the Western Region led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was a pacesetter in many respects: the first to attain indigenous self-governance in the year 1956 after the amalgamation of the Southern Protectorate with the Northern Protectorate and the colony of Lagos in 1914 by the Colonial Government.
During the period of self-rule under the administration of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the achievements and development of the Yoruba nation were monumental and unmatched. For example, the first Television Station in Africa was established in 1959 at a time when most of the African nations had none. The first indigenous university was established and the first set of industrial estates in Nigeria were established at Ikeja and Bodija and the Odua Group of Companies (Oodua Group) a conglomerate, which as of 1960, had over 50 subsidiary companies under it, was established during this period under reference. The Odua Group was second [in terms of turnover, assets and number of employees] only to the United African Company (UAC) Group of Companies established by the then British government.
The years of military rule following the coup and counter-coup of 1966, foisted on the ethnic groups in Nigeria, a unitary system of government which eventually decimated the virile economy of the then Western Nigeria. At a point in history especially in the 1950s up until independence in 1960, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the region rivalled that of South Korea. The Lagos Port which was built with resources of the Western Nigeria was [mis]appropriated by the Federal Military Government under the unitary system without compensation. The introduction of the unitary system under the guise of a federal structure has witnessed the usurpation of the treasury of the Western Nigeria resulting in bad and dilapidated roads, decaying infrastructure and neglect of the basic industries like agriculture and amenities which were the bedrock of the Western Nigeria economy. The years of posting inept, incompetent and carefree non-Yoruba military personnel to the Region as [military] Administrators / Governors have ensured the systematic destruction of the Oodua Conglomerate with the attendant job losses. Education which used to be the bedrock of Yoruba civilization suffered great decline. Similarly, the health sector which saw the Saudi Monarchy visiting the said Western Region for their health needs back in the 1950s have collapsed. Although in theory, Nigeria is a federal system, but in practice, it has one of the most fused unitary system of government.
The open sore of a continent: why Yoruba need their own independent State The question that easily comes to mind about Nigeria is to ask how did we get to this current lows in our national life and history?
The sanest answers to this question are not far-fetched and they include the humongous deprivation and deliberate efforts on the part of the political leaders to demean and diminish the humanity of the Nigerian people through perennial culture of graft and impunity.
Specifically, the following reasons explores how we got this current lows in our national life and history?
One of the compelling reasons for the Yoruba agitation for a separate Nation-State is the despicable and age-long spate of insecurity in Yorubaland and Nigeria and the lack of political will of the current political leadership to protect lives and property of law-abiding citizens of Nigeria. Apart from terrorism, the most worrisome is the blood-cuddling tale, which has become the signature of the rampaging and murderous Fulani herdsmen. The Fulani herdsmen have engaged in spate of killings, maiming and destruction of property and plying their ‘heinous trade’ under the guise of being pastoralists seeking pastures for their herds.
Without restating the obvious, the degeneracy of life in Nigeria to what Thomas Hobbes referred to, centuries ago, as ‘…nasty, brutish and short’, is no longer in dispute and his description of a typical state of anomie which he referred to as “bellum omnium contra omnes- the war of all against all”, aptly describes the state of insecurity in the country. Life has now become so cheap that it could be cut short by some criminals and terrorist cattle herders without any retribution, investigation or prosecution. It is indeed ‘the war of all against all’. The social contract theory as espoused by philosophers like Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau clearly has no place in Nigeria as the people are clearly being shortchanged in terms of value for life and provision of adequate security.
The Nigerian constitution, like all modern constitutions and international and regional human rights instruments to which Nigeria is a party to, guarantees the inviolability of human beings and dignity. In other words, the expression ‘right to life’ has become a constitutional mantra of sort in constitutional democracies across the globe. ‘Every human being is entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person and no one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right’.
Again, this provision speaks to the fact that life is sacrosanct and there is an inherent and sacred duty imposed on all States to ‘respect, protect, promote and fulfill’ this right through the instrumentality of law. Unfortunately, that has not been the case with Nigeria against the backdrop of the ‘utter madness’ being inflicted on Nigerians by this incubus and murderous gang of criminals and terrorist cattle herders.
From all indications, it is very apparent that these murderous gang of herdsmen are being treated as sacred cows. And it is also very clear to those with discerning minds that the present political leadership is in league with some unscrupulous members of the nation’s security ecosystem to actively aid and abet and embolden these criminal elements who parade themselves as mere pastoralists. This line of thought must have informed the deceptive attempts by some government officials to present these heartless criminals as victims instead of being rightly characterized as felons and villains. This unfortunate narrative has gained so much traction and stymied appropriate response from the national leadership and the security agencies.
The grave implications of the general insecurity in Nigeria are wide and varied. It is instructive to note that no meaningful development can take place in an environment of insecurity, terrorism and lawlessness. This explains why lawlessness remains one of the key indicative parameters of a failed state.
Incontrovertibly, this self-inflicted insecurity has inevitably heightened the general poverty of Nigerians by deepening the economic uncertainties in the country. It is therefore a no brainer that the youths have been forced into all sorts of criminalities engendered by lack of opportunities for decent living. With the prevailing insecurity, foreign investors are pulling out of the Nigeria in droves.
In addition, the infiltration of Yorubaland and the rising spectre for blood-letting disintegration of Nigeria is real. The Nigerian media is awash with the news of besiegement of Yorubaland by these invaders coupled with the horrifying tale of their kidnappings, killings and mind-boggling destruction that are currently being unleashed on the defenceless people of the Yoruba nation in Ekiti, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, part of Edo and Oyo States. Our peoples can no longer go to their farms or go about their normal lives without the potent fear of being victims of armed banditry.
It is quite unfortunate that we have refused to learn from our past mistakes. The menace of Boko Haram in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria is a case in point. It was the unfortunate dithering on the part of the successive governments in Nigeria to deal with this criminality that led to full-blown security breaches that have now become an intractable regional security nightmare in the West African region. There are also recent US Special Operations Intel warning that the Southwestern part of Nigeria is the next target of elements of AlQaida, ISIS and the likes. This is a clear result of the porous security environment in Nigeria.
World history is replete with cases of full scale war that began merely as banditry but later escalated into genocides. We make bold to say that unless this blood-letting is quickly nipped at the bud and brought under control, it could become another genocide.
2. Lack of opportunities
But for the continual theft and squandering of the national commonwealth by its leaders and their cronies, Nigeria should have been Africa’s giant. Nigeria is a resource-rich nation: a country tremendously endowed of God with fertile soil, flood of oil including other solid minerals and a huge, energetic and talented population.
In other words, the elephant in the room remains failure in political leadership across all the three levels of government-federal state and local governments. There has been the unwillingness or inability of Nigerian leaders to rise to the responsibility especially the challenge of exemplary leadership which is the core indicative parameter of progressive political leadership. We have a political system largely driven by ethnic jingoism and interests, clannishness and tribally-skewed political culture of ‘turn-by-turn’ where meritocracy is sacrificed at the altar of mediocrity. Another example is the fact that Nigeria, largely due to ethnic prejudices, has been unable to conduct a credible census of its population in modern history. Besides, since independence, honest toil has been less rewarded than theft of public funds.
It is therefore the resentments of the millions of unemployed youths that have been brazenly rigged out of opportunities that are fuelling terrorism, banditries, insurgencies, kidnappings, internet frauds and other forms of economic crimes
3. Maladministration and human rights abuse
The deliberate oppressive system whereby we cannot conduct free and fair elections and/or conduct proper census in Nigeria. This has led to an unfair and discriminatory distribution of Nigeria’s wealth and resources based on dubious election and census results [on the ground of racial or ethnic origin]. For example, Lagos state based in Yoruba land with a population of over 17 million has 20 Federal Government of Nigeria recognised local governments while Kano state which supposedly has 9 million people – has 44 local governments
At present, all nationwide distribution of funds that the Federal Government of Nigeria effects equally to each local government in Nigeria is discriminatory on the ground of racial or ethnic origin.
4. Theft of the resources and potentials
The consistent [and persistent] refusal of the Federal Government of Nigeria to practise proper Federalism which has led to the pertinently unfair, discriminatory and lopsided raping of resources of Yorubaland to develop or [self-]serve other parts of Nigeria. At present, Yorubaland produce some 63 percent of Value Added Tax (VAT) for the whole of Nigeria however the fund returned to Yorubaland is less than 20 percent of VAT. In further pursuance of the effectively Unitary system of government based on a flawed Federal constitution, the Federal Government of Nigeria has also recently proposed laws that seek to take away our rights over water and tropical resources. This is like taking away our being, our essence and the totality of our existence. Further examples of the Federal Government of Nigeria unapologetically, systematically and deliberately stunting the growth of the Yoruba nation are as follows – (a) The taking over, without compensation, of former Yoruba institutions like Western Nigeria Television Network (WNTV) and University of Ife and many other institutions. This has affected our ability to build and nurture the Yoruba creative and education industry. (b) The Federal Government stranglehold on the sea ports (and the generated funds) located in Yorubaland. (c) The Yoruba nation cannot independently foster proper and effective cultural and historic ties with their Yoruba kith and kin in Haiti, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Togo, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone etc.
From the foregoing, the following conclusions can safely be drawn:
- 1. Nigeria is a fraudulent contraption that is made of incongruous ‘strange bed fellows’ and is irredeemably perching on the edge and the only way to pull it back from the dangerous precipice is to encourage the nations that desire to pull out of the federation to do so. In other words, the country has irretrievable broken down.
- 2. For the international community to look the other way would be foolhardy and amounts to playing the ostrich. If Nigeria implodes, the consequences would be catastrophic, monstrous, with an unimaginable domino-effects especially in relation to international peace and security.
- 3. The resolution of ‘the Nigeria question’ and quagmire will resolve some of the perennial challenges confronting the international community such as terrorism, drug peddling, advance fee/internet frauds and other economic crimes, illegal migrations, and all forms of international banditries.
It is against the backdrop of the above that we the undersigned, based on the avowed principles of self-determination as guaranteed by all the international human rights instruments and the fact of its status as a jus cogens in international law, hereby request the support of the Parliament, Government and good People of United Kingdom in actualizing our quest for self-determination and a Yoruba nation-state that would be egalitarian and a pride and model for our race and other nations across the world.
God bless Yoruba Nation.