LOCAL and Regional initiatives would have boosted electricity supply across our country; but in the interest of centralization, that has been refused – and, as a result, our country has been suffering abominably from lack of electricity and from declines in entrepreneurial and business development. Because of low and inconstant supply of electricity, even the most successful industries in Nigeria are forced to operateat low capacity;most of the industries in all parts of Nigeria at independence in 1960 have shut down; and most Nigerians desiring to embark on businesses are discouraged out of their dreams.
Educational standards in our schools in the Southwest, once our great source of pride, have declined horribly. Our Regional university which we built at great expense and with great love and care at Ife, was taken over by the Federal Government and, under insensitive or even hostile federal handling, has been made to decline in every respect. Our Yoruba pride and morale, and our confidence in our ability to achieve and develop, is being continually assailed in Nigeria. We now live in a degree of poverty that is alien to us and that we do not deserve.
Our youths used to hurry back home after studying abroad, because of abundance job and professional opportunities. Now, most of our educated youths are unemployed and hopeless, and large numbers of them are fleeing abroad daily. In total desperation, many of our youths even embark on walking across the Sahara Desert and continuing across the Mediterranean Sea in smuggling boats, in their attempt to reach Europe – and very many of them die in such attempts. Many others fall for various foreign job scams and end up in various kinds of slavery abroad.
We can easily see that these disasters which we and other peoples of Nigeria have been suffering are welcome to the controllers of the Nigerian Federal Government, whose sole interest is to control all peoples and sections and resources of Nigeria. In fact, from Nigeria’s all-powerful federal authority, perverse ideas have been generated to the effect that the nationalities of Nigeria must be subdued and destroyed, so as to make way for the building of a united Nigeria under sole federal control. Among many other things, federal interferences in the curriculums of schools have subtly prohibited the teaching of the histories and languages of Nigeria’s nationalities – a step designed to speed up the death of most Nigerian nationalities. Unlike nationalities like ours in other multi-nation countries all over the world, we the peoples of Nigeria are watching our children being robbed of the knowledge of the history of their nations, and being perversely guided into shunning their indigenous languages. The Indian Union, with many nationalities like us, recognizes twenty-two official languages and strongly supports their being taught in schools; and the Union of South Africa has followed suit with eleven official languages. These countries recognize that the cultures of their various nationalities are treasures worthy to be preserved and enhanced; but Nigeria sees the cultures of Nigerian nationalities as evils that must be eliminated.
For us Yoruba nation, and for most other Nigerian nationalities, the above is the heritage of Nigeria in our lives since independence. Some persons may respond that we have not been without some gains. Yes, we have had some gains, but not nearly as much as we could, and should, have made at our various paces in Nigeria. The perpetual resistances, inhibitions, and outright push-downs, have hurt us and are hurting us. Our losses have been horrendous – in level of development, development pace, the quality of life, morale, confidence, focus, momentum, and pride.
We Yoruba want to stop our decline and our pain. We want to propel ourselves upwards and forwards again. And we are not asking for favours from any Federal Government; we demand the regional and local autonomy that will empower us to achieve progress in our own way and at our own pace in Nigeria.We know that other Nigerian nationalities want the same for themselves too. That is how successful federations all over the world are organized.
The resistance of some Nigerian nationalities to the perpetual federal obstruction and disruptionof their lives has produced violent confrontations for decades. We Yoruba have preferred to resist in peace. But we seriously demand of President Buhari, whom we voted for as President of Change, to respond expeditiously and forthrightly to our needs and demands. We have lost too much already. The slippage must now stop. We will stop it.