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Yoruba group intensifies autonomy demands

20 May 2014, 16:17

Abuja - Afenifere Renewal Group, a Yoruba socio-cultural organization, has accused the Northern delegates at the ongoing National Conference of deliberately frustrating their demands for regional autonomy demand.

At a news conference on Monday, the group said it was displeased that most of its demands at the conference had been rejected as the Northern group had “ganged up to defeat autonomy for the regions.”

General Secretary of the group, Ayo Afolabi, said that as the nation was going through a trying period, the group had expected that every tribe would seize the opportunity to build consensus and reclaim the country from “wrong-footed” ideas and practices that brought Nigeria to its present state and bleak future.

“We are therefore baffled at the take-it-or-Ieave-it attitude of delegates from other ethnic nationalities, particularly the Northern delegates who circulated a document full of fallacies few weeks ago. Those fallacies have now been exposed by the facts and figures contained in the publication we are unveiling today,” he said.

Afolabi noted that it was inconceivable that northern leaders were leading the campaign against devolution of power and restructuring of government, saying that if any region needed a stronger federating unit with greater capacity to provide education, health, security, wealth creation and other social amenities, it was the north where strong links exist between the level of poverty and conscription of innocent youths into extremist tendencies.

“It appears Northern leaders are not concerned, and indeed have no plan for the teeming youth from the region, as long as they are able to continue clinging to their hold on power. However, we are never in doubt that regionalism is the most viable instrument for a stronger and united Nigeria,” said Afolabi.

Afolabi said the Yoruba people demanded a negotiated legislative exclusive.

“We demand a parliamentary form of government at the centre and the right to self determination on and up to the right to secede. We demand a just and equitable taxation system that will treat the federating units with equality and better coordination at the federal level in order to eliminate the current rentier syndrome.

We demand Fiscal Federalism and Resource Control: a system whereby a substantial part of the proceeds accruable from every federating unit will be retained and an agreed percentage contributed to the center by the federating units for the responsibility of the Federal government and the establishment of Regional Police,” he said.

Afenifere also demanded a new people’s Constitution.

“We are not enforcing our demands on others. They are free to explore whatever suits them while we should be free to organise our governance the way it suits us. For us Yoruba people, we demand Regional Autonomy for the South West Region within a united Nigeria. Yoruba people will effectively communicate to all other ethnic nationalities an understanding of the aims and objectives of the Yoruba people,” Afolabi added.

The Yoruba people are mostly found in southwestern Nigeria. They constitute over 35 million people and make up more than 20 percent of the total Nigerian population.

– CAJ News

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