After a summit of leaders and people of the Yoruba ethnic group in Ibadan, Oyo State, to deliberate on the restructuring agenda and the future of Nigeria, the people, found mostly in the South-West States and parts of Kogi and Kwara, have proposed a Nigeria that should be a federation comprised of six regions and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The regions, according to summit communique released on Thursday, should be tailored after the present geo-political zones. The regions, the summit suggested, should be made up of states.
Under the proposed arrangement, the Federal Government is to make laws and have powers on items specified on the legislative list contained in the 1999 Constitution as Amended.
The communique, signed by prominent lawyer and the Summit Chairman, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN); and Chairman of the Summit Planning Committee, Dr. Kunle Olajide, also proposed that each region should have its own constitution containing enumerated exclusive and concurrent legislative lists regarding matters upon which the regions and the states may act or legislate
The summit, attended by Yoruba leaders, governors, parliamentarians ,Yoruba social cultural groups, professional bodies, market leaders ,youth groups and friends of the Yoruba nation.
Other resolutions of the summit are:
*That Yoruba insists that Nigeria must return to a proper federation as obtained in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions. This has been our position since 1950 Ibadan conference and developments in Nigeria over the last fifty years reinforce our conviction.
*That Yoruba are clear that restructuring does not mean different things to different people other than that a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria can only know real peace and development if it is run ONLY along federal lines.
*That the greatest imperatives of restructuring Nigeria is to move from a rent-seeking and money sharing anti-development economy to productivity by ensuring that the federating units are free to own and develop their resources. They should pay agreed sums to the federation purse to implement central services.
*That the federating units- whether states, zones or regions must themselves be governed by written constitution to curb impurity at all levels.
.*Contiguous territories, ethnic nationalities or settlement shall be at liberty through a plebiscite, to elect to be part of any contiguous region other than the region in which the current geo-political zone or state boundaries places them.
*States as presently comprised in the geo-political zones into which they fall, which shall become regions, shall continue to exercise the executive, legislative and judicial functions currently exercised at that level of government.
*The States within a region shall determine the items on the legislative lists in the Regional constitution for the purpose of good government and the administration and provision of common inter-state social, economic and infrastructural requirements. Residual powers shall be vested in the states
*The power to create states shall be within the exclusive powers of the region which shall be obliged to create a state provided a plebiscite is conducted, following a request by an agreed percentage of the residents of the ethnic nationality within a state. The procedure for conducting a plebiscite and the percentage of any ethnic nationality shall be out in the regional constitution.
*The power to create local governments and assign functions to them shall be vested in the states.
*States shall be entitled to manage all resources found within their boundaries and the revenue accruing therefrom. The issue of the entitlement of littoral states to offshore resources and the extension of such rights from the continental shelf and rights accruing to the federal government shall be determined by the national assembly.
*The sharing ration of all revenues raised by means of taxation shall be 50% to the states, 35% to the regional government and 15% to the government of the federation.
*For a period of 10 years from the commencement of the operation of the new constitution (or such other agreed period to be enshrined in the federal constitution) there shall be a special fund for the development of all minerals in the country. The Government of the federation shall raise this sum by way of additional taxation on resources at a rate to be agreed by the National Assembly. The National Assembly shall set up a body to manage the funds with equal representation of nominees from each of the Regional governments and shall also set out and specify the guidelines for the administration of the funds exclusively for this purpose. The president of the Federation shall appoint a chairperson for the entity so formed.
The summit stated that its positions will form the basis of negotiations with other partners in the Nigerian project for a United Nigeria based on justice, peace and fair play.
It recalled that the great strides made by the Yoruba nation in the years of self-government up until the abrogation of the federal constitution in 1966 was evident in mass literacy, novel infrastructural strides and giant leaps in all spheres of human development.
Noting that the crisis of over-centralization has led to mass misery across the country with poverty levels at 72%, unemployment rate at 65%,, the situation is worsened by internal immigration and internal displacement, security threat in form of Boko Haram, herdsmen and organized crime.
The summit said it was convinced that Nigeria was heading “dangerously to the edge of the slope except urgent steps are taken to restructure Nigeria from a unitary constitution to a federal constitution as negotiated by (the) founding fathers at independence in 1960.”