Yoruba Groups Issue Dire Warning About National Conference

Jan. 24, 2014

SaharaReporters, New York

The Afenifere Renewal Group [ARG], leading a clutch of Yoruba Self Determination Groups, has warned that if a peaceful and mutually agreeable federal structure is made impossible through a deliberate subversion of a Constitutional Conference through the enforcement of unacceptable modalities, the Yoruba people reserve the right to take their fate in their hands.

In a statement following their meeting yesterday, the groups recalled that on November 1, 2013, they had jointly presented a memorandum to the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue. Their meeting this week was held to review the recommendations of the Executive Summary of the committee’s report, followed its publication in the media.

They reiterated their position that in order for Nigeria to achieve its potentials, a National Conference was needed to resolve the political logjam that is welded on the entire governance structure of the country, adding that the obvious lesson since 1999 is that partisan politics, with is interminable ability to fuel mistrust and ethno-religious bigotry, cannot help Nigeria’s cause.

“We stand by our position, that a National Conference – the type that Nigeria needs – must be a conference of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria,” the statement said. “Anything short of this would not change the fortune of Nigeria’s drifting ship as could be gleaned from the history and peculiar challenges the country has faced since the amalgamation in 1914. The colonialists did not sign treaties with any other group in the process leading up to the amalgamation and there is a huge and compelling body of evidence that makes it mandatory for ethnic nationalities to meet at a roundtable and discuss the future of this nation.”

They stressed that their opinion is a National Conference for all ethnic groups to discuss Nigeria and how the inherent and creative potentials of its components could be harnessed within a constitutional framework that is suitable for everybody.

They added they see no reason why an ethnic group should have simple majority in representation, and that an equal number of delegates should come from each of the six administrative zones.

Concerning the nomination of delegates by the President or the State Governors, they pointed out that undue interference of political interests has been the bane of previous efforts.

“Therefore, for this conference to be successful, no partisan political interest must be represented. We therefore kick against the nomination of delegates by anybody. We want to discuss Nigeria, not partisan politics or vested interest. To deter insinuations of a vested agenda, our advice to President Goodluck Jonathan is to refuse the temptation to personally nominate delegates,” they advised.

The groups stressed that Nigeria must be restructured to reflect a true federalist country, and that this and allied issues must be the focal point of the National Conference as the current federating units are not viable and the current governance structure midwives developmental barriers and imposes high cost of governance on the polity.

“The purpose of the National Conference must be to give Nigerians and Nigeria a new Constitution based on the free will of the people,” they declared. “There is no gainsaying that the current 1999 Constitution (amended), with all its manifest deficiencies in resolving national challenges, cannot sustain peaceful and progressive national growth.”

Furthermore, they said that the decisions that delegates from each region take at the conference must be subjected to a referendum in their respective regions.

Groups signing the communique included ARG,Coalition of O’dua Self Determination Groups (COSEG); ATAYESE Covenant Group (CG);O’dua Nationalist Coalition (ONAC); and Afenifere Youth Forum.