A petition started on the online petition aggregator, change.org for the conduct of a referendum in Yoruba land has been amassing signatories.
The petition was started by one Oludare Yerokun for the Yoruba Referendum Committee, and to the governors and members of the Houses of Assembly in Oyo, Lagos, Osun, Ogun, Ondo and Ekiti states.
The petition which is aimed at getting 15, 000 signatories, has, at the time of filing this report garnered 10, 864 signatories.
According to the petition, the group is calling for a referendum that will bring about true federalism in the country in which Nigeria will be governed by members of a Federal Presidential Council.
The group said its activities are aimed at popularizing the idea of restructuring among the people of the South-West region such that the people will influence the decision-makers in bringing this to reality.
It further stated that members of the Houses of Assembly in the six states owe it a duty to the Yoruba Nation to re-establish the Sovereignty of the People by passing a bill for a referendum into law.
The petition reads, “Whereas the question may be asked as to why a Yoruba Referendum when the 1999 Constitution is being amended, expected to result in ‘devolution’, ‘fiscal federalism’, reduction of ‘exclusive legislative lists’ being touted as the solution to Yoruba (and Nigeria’s) Underdevelopment…
“What We Want: (a) A Federal Nigeria, through a valid Federal Constitution, to be known as The Union of Nigerian Constituent Nationalities, with a Federal Presidential Council, whose members will be selected or elected from each of the Nationalities as Federating Units and from whom a Head of State will be selected or elected as the primus-inter-pares with an agreed term.
“(b) YORUBALAND, geo-politically known as the ODUDUWA REGION and consisting of the present states of Ekiti, Eko, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and all Oodua lands in Kwara, Kogi, Edo and Delta States to become an AUTONOMOUS Nation in a UNION OF NIGERIAN CONSTITUENT NATIONALITIES and recognizing all persons in the Diaspora, of African descent who claim Oduduwa/Yoruba ancestry, either through cultural affiliation or genealogical connection.
“(c) The Central Government of the Union shall have no power to interfere nor intervene in the affairs of the ODUDUWA REGION, save as shall be agreed to by three-quarters of the members of the Region’s Parliament.
“(d) There shall be a Division of the Federal Armed Forces in the Region, 90% of which personnel shall be indigenes of the Region. The Divisional commander shall be an indigene of the Oduduwa Region.
“(e) ODUDUWA Region shall adopt a Parliamentary System of government. This Parliament shall have the power to make laws governing taxes, duties, excise, payment of debt, etc. It shall have the power to make laws governing the sourcing of funds on behalf of the Region and to regulate commerce with the co-prosperity spheres within the Union of Nigeria.
“This Parliament shall have the power to establish Regional Police Service with responsibility to investigate Regional crimes. This Police Service shall have no superintending control over the Provincial and Council Police service, but shall coordinate activities at the Regional, Provincial and Local council levels.
“(f) The Judicial power of the Region shall be vested in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, Customary Court and Other lower courts as the Parliament may establish. There shall be a Court of Appeal in each of the provinces. There shall be, in each province, a High Court from which appeals shall lie to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
“(g) Oodua Customary forms of land ownership shall be respected. Exploitation of mineral resources shall be the prerogative of the host community without prejudice to the right of the Local, Provincial and Regional Governments to levy appropriate taxes for the welfare of the people of Oodua land and without prejudice to the right of the Federal Government to levy taxes.”
In an interview with SaharaReporters, a member of the Committee, Shenge Rahman Akanbi said one of the demands of the committee is the establishment of a Federal Presidential Council in Nigeria which will comprise of representatives of each nationality to enhance greater participation.
He said: “Yoruba Referendum Committee is a group on its own, it was brought into being to create awareness and campaign for the popularisation of the need to have popular acceptance of the question of restructuring of Nigeria. Of course, it cannot be done in a violent manner nor can it be done by the unilateral declaration of just one person or a group of persons.
“The question of self-determination of any people will only come as a result of the self-exercise for self-liberation of the people, not the pompous or arrogant declaration of a few persons. The people must be involved.
“We are not secessionists, the content of the flyer shows what we want to do to get popular approval by way of a referendum of the real federalisation of Nigeria and we cannot wish away the existence of the political establishment: governors, legislature and political forces while seeing the people as a dominant factor in this process.
“It is left for the political forces to align with the demands of the people when we have actually got our people to accept the idea to seek a referendum in such a manner that it will be impossible for the political contestants in Yoruba land to disregard or show indifference to the real question of the day — self-determination.
“We have seen series of examples like this in Catalonia, Ireland, Scotland, of course, ours is a non-violent one.
“From the benefits outlined in the flyer, we said we want Nigeria to be governed by a Federal Presidential Council instead of one single president. Each region will choose its candidate in the Presidential council and you will discover that over the years, one single federal election at the centre has always been a cause for a terrible struggle to outdo each other which has always involved mindless violence, killing, abuse of power and occasional cause to the extermination of opposition forces and we think enough is enough.”