AFENIFERE RENEWAL GROUP (ARG),
PRO NATIONAL CONFERENCE ORGANISATION (PRONACO),
COALITION OF O’ODUA SELF DETERMINATION GROUP (COSEG),
O’ODUA NATIONALIST COALITION (ONAC),
A MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED TO THE PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL DIALOGUE
DATE: 31ST OCTOBER, 2013
Conscious of her God-given identity as a distinct nationality within the country Nigeria, and among the human race in general; in pursuit of her inalienable right to self-determination in order to guarantee to her people the advantages of autonomous development in accordance with her values and priorities; the YORUBA NATION hereby submits the following as her response to the call for memorandum by the Advisory Committee on National Conference:
-The conference must be a conference of ethnic nationalities in the current Nigeria State, and it must be a conference of ‘the people’ as sovereignty evolves only from the people and resides ultimately in the people.
-The conference must seek to restructure Nigeria in a way that grants Yoruba people, and other ethnic nationalities seeking it, unfettered autonomy to develop its region and its own space within the framework of Nigeria’s multiethnic federation.
-For the avoidance of doubt, we define Yoruba ethnic nationality as the indigenes of the present Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, and Oyo States. We also affirm the right of Yoruba people indigenous, and contiguous with Yoruba region, in the present Delta, Kogi, Edo, and Kwara States, whose territories are contiguous with the rest of Yorubaland to demand that they want to join the Yoruba ethnic nation.
-The conference must produce a brand new constitution for Nigeria as the legal framework that will anchor the country on true federalist structure. There should be no ‘No Go area’ in respect of issues slated for discussion at the conference and in respect of agitation from any section of Nigeria, as this is the best way to ensure generation of frank views that can lead to compromise required in establishing a functional federal state.
-Failing the above listed clauses, the Yoruba nation would reserve the right to exist as an independent nation outside the current Nigeria structure
Below are our positions on the committee’s Terms of Reference
ToR 1: Consult expeditiously with all relevant stakeholders with a view to drawing up a feasible agenda for the proposed national dialogue/conference;
We explore in our submission the issue of who constitute the stakeholders, but irrespective of the interpretation, we want to advice the committee to note that the Yoruba people comprise of one ethnic nation and in Nigeria’s political lexicon, may constitute one region or one geo-political zone.
1. We submit that the stakeholders in the conference must be the ethnic nations in Nigeria. Each ethnic nation should be allowed to table before the conference issues pertinent to their interests.
2. It is important that ethnic nations be the major, and in fact, only stakeholder in the conference in order not to deny anyone their fundamental rights of identity and to also solve a major problem with the Nigerian state, which is ethnic domination.
3. Therefore, all ethnic nations shall be treated as equal.
4. We know there are hundreds of distinct ethnic nations in Nigeria, but for administrative purpose; it may not be possible for the conference to accommodate them all.
5. Therefore, we recommend that smaller ethnic nations with contiguous landscape be advised to form a region.
6. Based on the above, we recommend the following ethnic nations as the major stakeholders at the conference:
a. Edo Federating Region
b. Fullah (otherwise known as ‘Fulani’) Federating Region
c. Gbagyi (otherwise known as ‘Gwari’) Federating Region
d. Hausa Federating Region
e. Ibibio Federating Region
f. Igbo Federating Region [including Delta Igbo-speaking ethnic Nationality as well as those in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States]
g. Ijaw Federating Region
h. Kanuri Federating Region
i. Nupe Federating Region
j. Tiv Federating Region
k. Urhobo Federating Region
l. Yoruba Federating Region [comprising those in Delta (i.e. Itsekiri), (in Edo), Ekiti, (in Kogi), (in Kwara), Lagos, (in Niger), Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo States]
m. Akwa Ibom and Cross River Federating Region [excluding Ibibio nationality but comprising mainly the Minority Ethnic Nationalities in Cross River and Akwa Ibom States, i.e. Annang, Bakwarta, Boki, Efik, Ejagbam, Eket, Ibeno, Korop, Oron, Yakurr, Yala];
n. Bayelsa and Rivers Federating Region (comprising the Minority Ethnic Nationalities in Bayelsa and Rivers States, i.e. Andoni, Ekipeye, Eleme, Engeni, Etchei, Ikwerre, Ogba, Ndoni, Ogoni);
o. Central Middle Belt Federating Region [comprising the Minority Ethnic Nationalities in Central Middle Belt], that is to say:-
i. The Ebira Group, which includes Bassa-Nge, Ebira, Ebira-Mozun, Ebira- Panda, Ebira-Ugu, Etuno-Igarra, Uku;
ii. The Igala Group in Upper Benue which includes Alago, Arum, Bassa-Komu, Eggon, Gwandara, Kakanda, Mada, Mighili, Ninzom, etc.; and
iii. The Nok Group which includes Atyap, Bajju, Gwandara, Ham, Hori, Ikullu, Kahugu, Kamanton, Kwasam, Ninkyop, Ninzam, Etc.;
p. Delta Federating Region [comprising the Minority Ethnic Nationalities in Delta, i.e. Ika, Isoko, Ndokwa, Warri];
q. East Middle Belt Federating Region [comprising the Minority Ethnic Nationalities in East Middle Belt] that is to say: –
i. The Plateau Group which includes Afezere, Amu, Ankwei, Berom, Geomai, Mavo-Jukun, Ngas, Pem, Tarok, Yovin, etc.;
ii. The Taraba Group which includes Abakwa, Chamba, Jukun, Kaanab, Kona, Kunni, Kuteb, Mambila, Ndoro, Yububen, etc.; and
iii. The Savanna Group which includes Bachama, Burra, Bwazza, Kilba, Mangbi, Mbula, Mwanna, Tangale-Waja, Yungur, etc.;
r. West Middle Belt Federating Region [comprising the Minority Ethnic Nationalities in West Middle Belt], that is to say, Angamo, Bariba, Bola, Bussa, Funne, Kambari, Karekare, Ngizim, Zuru, etc.
7. Each of these eighteen (18) regions, which came about as a result of research effort of eminent academicians, will become the federating units of Nigeria State.
8. While each region should be allowed to table before the conference issues that are peculiar to their existence within Nigeria, we would like to propose the following as agenda for the conference:
a. Tiers of government
b. Type of legislative structure, unicameral or bicameral
c. Devolution of power – responsibilities of federal and regional governments
d. Internal security – Police and tiers of policing
e. Resource control
f. Revenue allocation/fiscal federalism
g. Management of federation account
h. Structure of the Courts, including the need to create a Constitutional Court
i. Status and Funding of the Federal Capital
j. Immunity from prosecution for political office holders
l. Federal Civil Service and Quota System/Federal Character
m. The role of Traditional Rulers in governance
n. Women and Youth representation in governance
o. Census and Population
p. Federal elections
ToR 2: Make recommendations to government on structure and modalities for the proposed national dialogue/conference;
We recommend a two-tier structure for the proposed conference, and make suggestion as to the number of delegates, whose nomination and emergence must be according to methods evolved by the participating ethnic nationalities.
1. We are recommending two levels of conferences.
2. Conference Level I: The first one is at the regional level, where each Federating Region will deliberate on pertinent issues relating to their existence within Nigeria. We recommend a bottom-up approach where the conference starts from the village level and proceed to the Town, State and Region; with each Federating Region allowed to organise this conference as it suits their existence and socio-cultural values, norms, tradition and practices. At this level, each region will produce its own charter to be debated and negotiated at the second conference.
3. Conference Level II: The second conference will be the pan-Nigerian conference of ethnic nationalities.
4. We recommend that 30 delegates from each of the present six administrative regions attend this conference to debate the charters from all Federating Regions and agenda of the conference.
5. In addition, each of the identified eighteen (18) Federating Regions should nominate one delegate who will present its charter. This brings the total number of delegates to 198.
6. We propose that the federal government fund the conference and provide suitable venue and adequate security.
ToR 3:Make recommendations to government on how representation of various interest groups at the national dialogue/conference will be determined;
1. Our recommendation is that each administrative region should be allowed the liberty to decide how it chooses the 30 delegates that will attend the conference.
2. However, for the purpose of legitimacy, we suggest that half of the delegates should emerge through election, and the remaining half through methods evolved by respective ethnic nationalities.
3. The reason is that a major fault line for previous conferences had been that delegates did not emerge from the ethnic nations and therefore could not represent them as appropriate.
4. We do not support that the federal government should nominate any delegate. However, it may send observers and technical support staffwho must be persons of acceptable repute and international standing.
5. We do not also support that the National Assembly be represented as a stakeholder/delegate at the conference. This is because the National Assembly itself is a delegated authority from the people.
6. We also do not support that Special Interest Groups like Labour, Nigerian Bar Association, Women groups, political parties, Media, etc. be represented as a stakeholder/delegate at the conference. The reason is that even these interest groups are not immune to ethnic struggles within their representations. So, every one, irrespective of organization, comes from an ethnic nation and should be accommodated in their respective ethnic nationality nomination. However, these Special Interest Groups desiring to do so may also send observers.
ToR 4: Advise on a time frame for the national dialogue/conference;
1. The conference should be completed within 9 months, inclusive of the two levels of conferences, as explicated in ToR 2 above
2. As there are misgivings on whether the conference could interfere with the 2015 General Elections, the conference should be enabled on or before March 1, 2014 to terminate by November 30, 2014.
ToR 5: advise government on a legal framework for the national dialogue/conference;
1. Implicit in the procedure for convening the National Conference is the need for budgetary allowances to cover the cost of the conference, its convocation, administration, and delegates’ expenses etc. Therefore, an urgent supplementary budget provision should be considered for this purpose;
2. More so, the Independent National Electoral Commission has a role to play in conducting a referendum to authenticate the outcome of the conference.
3. However, the conference delegates should write their own rules of proceedings and would from the beginning empower its rules as statutory in nature.
4. Decisions at the conference shall be by consensus and negotiation and not through voting.
ToR 6: advise government on legal procedures and options for integrating decisions and outcomes of the national dialogue/ conference into the constitution and laws of the nation;
We are conscious of the enormous responsibilities borne by the delegates, and therefore propose that the outcome of their deliberation, negotiations, and agreements, after scaling referendum, should become the new Constitution and Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The question of integration presupposes reviewing an existing document, whereas, this effort is aimed at writing a new Constitution.
1. There should be a Referendum at Federating Regional level after and about the decisions reached at the conference.
2. The outcome of the referendum should translate to an automatic repeal of the existing constitution, and the promulgation of the new Constitution.
3. Any ethnic nation that does not agree to the conference’s outcome shall be free to seek its own sovereignty. This follows the basic principle that sovereignty resides with the people.
ToR 7: advise government on any other matters that may be related or incidental to the proposed national dialogue/conference.
1. There should be three Conference Conveners and each person nominated as a Conference Convenor must be acceptable to the ethnic nationalities and must be of good standing, with national and international reputation.
2. There must be no ‘no go area,’ i.e. every issue about the Nigerian federation is subject to discussion at the conference.
3. Since the conference will produce a new constitution, we recommend that the conference be completed before 2015 elections, with a new constitution to come into force latest by January 2, 2015.
Afenifere Renewal Group