To Gov. Kayode Fayemi: A response

Below are excerpts by the Egbe Omo Oduduwa to Gov. Kayode Fayemi’s Arewa lecture; enjoy it!

“As is customary of the Nigerian Post-Colonial ruling elite, Governor Kayode Fayemi simply grafted onto the Nigerian problematic borrowed expressions of a (United States of America) reality that is incongruent with the experiences of the Yoruba and other peoples of Nigeria by his deployment of the historically conditioned phrase of “a more perfect Union” in his presentation at the Forum on the 50th Anniversary of the Centre for Historical Documentation and Research (Arewa House) on October 30, 2020.

“For “a more perfect Union” to be applicable to, and meaningful for Nigeria, it must mean the recognition of the existence of the peoples in their territories, contrary to the experience of the United States; and these anchored on their historical Constitutional journeys in the process of decolonisation, expressed in their pre-Independence political preferences, manifesting in the Regional structure, more or less reflecting the existential diversity of the peoples of Nigeria, and which would have been  the basis for the pursuit of “a more perfect Union,” especially with the creation of more Regions advocated by the Action Group and which would have averted the Nigeria-Biafra War.

“This is the reality for Nigeria and the peoples of Nigeria, which was neutralised and overthrown by the colonial military and civilian apparatus emerging from the two military coups of January and July 1966 under the guise of fighting corruption and pursuit of “Unity,” both ending up disrupting and negating the wishes and aspirations of the colonised, expressed through their pre-Independence political preferences.

“Since then, the Nigerian state apparatus has embarked on a systematic homogenisation of the various cultures resulting in consolidating a stronger centre, now discredited as being too humongous and a drag on socio-economic development, parasitic on the natural and human resources of the peoples of Nigeria and creating the avenue for renewed calls for “True Federalism” anchored on “devolution,” “fiscal federalism,” “exclusive Legislative lists” etc, all of which Fayemi spoke glowingly about.

“Yet, Fayemi did not acknowledge the fact that the Yoruba Nation had endured and continues to endure great hardship in her existential coming into being, when, through the “devolution” parameters of the 1947 Richards Constitution, the Yoruba Nation experienced her balkanisation, consigning the Yoruba in Ilorin and Kabba Provinces to the Northern Region, and with the Eastern Region acquiescing, excising the Lagos Colony from Yorubaland, both of which ran against popular wishes and aspirations of the Yoruba.

“The Richards Constitution was replaced by the 1951 Macpherson Constitution which ushered in the era of Federalism of the Regions, reversing the excision of the Lagos Colony from Yorubaland while the NPC and NCNC refused to allow the conduct of referendum/plebiscite among the Yoruba in Ilorin and Kabba Provinces as to their preference to being part of the Western or Northern Regions, thereby ensuring their retention in the North.

“Since then, the Yoruba People of Ilorin and Kabba Provinces and the Igbomina, all now located in Kwara and Kogi states, have been fighting against this “forced, illegal and unconstitutional relocation” and are now asking for a referendum to determine whether they want to be rejoined with their kin in Yorubaland or not, echoing their demands as at the time of the Macpherson Constitution.

“All the foregoing shows clearly that “devolution” as experienced by the Yoruba Nation have been detrimental to Yoruba emancipation and therefore cannot be an acceptable route to go in her quest for “True Federalism” in Nigeria.

“Flowing from this is the continuous denial of the various existential values of the various Peoples through the instrumentality of the Colonial State Apparatus, which was simply replaced by the Post-Colonial State, manifesting through the relentless demonization of the Action Group and the Western Region as promoters of Balkanization and “Pakistanisation” of Nigeria by the authorities of the Eastern and Northern regions.

“The irony of it all was that while the latter opposed and successfully, albeit unconstitutionally, prevented the realisation of the quest of the Peoples of the Middle Belt and Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers Province for their own Regions, they went ahead to secure the creation of the Midwest from the Western Region.

“The deliberate disregard of the foregoing apparently enabled Fayemi to wrongfully celebrate a supposed ability of Nigeria to manage “diversity” declaring that “It is what makes us better than even Europeans who find diversity management difficult. The Balkans had to split into Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Czechoslovakia became Czech and Slovak Nations, the Soviet Union couldn’t hold together, Yugoslavia collapsed into Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Herzegovina and Britain still has not found a definitive answer to the Irish, Welsh and Scottish question”

“Fayemi’s conclusion flies in the face of reality;  for none of the model developed countries in Europe is a multilingual, multinational and multicultural country existing and operating as a nation-state, the nations being identified by their lingual and cultural expressions; what happened in all the instances cited by the Governor were aimed at arriving at the same destination, and that is, the establishment of a country, a , anchored on the expectations and aspirations of her peoples within their cultural and lingual matrices.

“The question for Europe is therefore not about “diversity management” but reaffirmation of diversity expressed in its form of state.

“When, therefore, Fayemi averred that “Our ability to live together as a diverse but unified country is something we should celebrate”, he failed to answer the pertinent question as to how such ability had been manifesting; for, the central question to be asked and answered is whether the story of Nigeria since 1966 is something to celebrate when all references to the developmental paradigm experienced in Nigeria always point to the Regional period, from 1951 to 1966, upon which “a more perfect union” ought to have been built but, whose  neutralisation  became the albatross on the neck of the Nigerian post-colonial state till date.

“When the Governor proceeded to ask “But imagine Nigeria with over 250 ethnic nationalities and particularly in Arewa, where no state, indeed few communities can claim to be homogeneous. Yet we are managing our diversity very well until we lose the values of tolerance, equity, fairness, and justice which we inherited from our founding fathers such as the Sardauna of Sokoto”, he also failed the reality test.

“Ignoring the Governor’s resort, once again, to abstract formularies as is the character of the Nigerian post-colonial elite, leading to his lamentations on the absence of values, equity, etc, he clearly forgot that the Yoruba can comfortably and conveniently make the claim to homogeneity as  we have been doing since the advent of anti-colonial struggles; exemplified not only in lingual and cultural expressions but also manifested politically through the political motive of defending Yoruba Federalism via the  Yoruba Civil Wars expressed as the “war to end all wars” in order to ensure peace in Yorubaland.

“Furthermore, and in the spirit of seeking similarities in other climes, Switzerland in Europe provides an excellent template for the pursuit of  “a more perfect Union”  as a reflection of the reality of the peoples in their territories, recognising both the “indigenes” alongside their territories, a recognition of the multiplicity, resulting in what is now known as the Swiss Confederation with geo-political and territorial boundaries anchored on lingual and cultural determinations within the Swiss multinational state.

“Even the monocultural, monolingual United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai Emirate is a member and Dubai, a favourite destination of the Nigeria’s post-colonial ruling elite its capital city, has a federal system anchored on a “Federal Supreme Council, consisting of “the Rulers of the seven Emirates constituting the Federation or their deputies in their Emirates in case of ruler’s absence or unavailability. Each emirate has one single vote in the Council resolutions and deliberations, further recognising the centrality of the peoples in questions of federalism.

“The only conclusion that can be reached for Fayemi’s failure is that he has abandoned the peoples of  Nigeria, pandering to the “Northern script” starting from his revisionism on Nigeria’s historical experience anchored on his substitution of the values, cultures and existentialism of Yoruba people,  already negated by our existential experience where our humanity became subjected to the economic and philosophical existentialism of the colonial power, such that the Governor  could not situate his resolution of the Nigerian problematic within the context of Yoruba existentialism, itself a Federalist Project and despite his being a Yoruba.

“Furthermore, the Governor launched a violent assault on the collective memory of Yoruba People, conveniently ignoring historical facts about Ahmadu Bello but eulogising him and immortalising “the legacies of the great political leader and premier of the defunct Northern Nigeria…”

“The simple reality is that Ahmadu Bello was one of the major political leaders from the North who assiduously worked against the emergence of Yoruba existentialism and thus could not be said to be in favour of “life, liberty, equal opportunity, blessings” and not only for the Yoruba, but also for the other colonised peoples of Nigeria, whose coming into being, after centuries of colonial plunder, cannot simply be confined into the Nigerian post-colonial State Matrix without their consent.

“With the Nigerian Post-Colonial State defining itself as a Democracy, it must be noted that the word “Democracy” springs from the Greek word “demos”, which means “the People” by which Democracy becomes the manifestation of the aspirations and expectations of the “demos”, the Peoples, which must be expressed and dominant, either directly through a Referendum or indirectly through periodic elections, delegating power and responsibility to her elected officials.

“Utilisation of such power is expected to be aimed at the deepening of the existential paradigms of the Peoples, ensuring their complete command of their environment thereby creating an enabling society for the manifestation of their God-given abilities in their relationships, first, among themselves, and then with other Peoples; therefore, the “demos” must be consulted on their aspirations and expectations through which any developmental deformities may be cured.

“Development, for the African, must therefore be anchored on a decolonisation paradigm which subjects centuries of colonial subjugation to the rebirth of their humanity. This paradigm cannot simply be reduced to a reformulation of territorial federalism that is not anchored on indigeneity  when the indigenes are yet to be wiped out. Nor could that paradigm be conceived or executed as a series of administrative measures or boundary adjustments. The peoples must be recognised as the Federating Entities.

“This makes the resolution of the issues about language, culture and values vital components of social, economic and political development, to be formally incorporated into any Structure of State, leading to the emergence of the “New Man” on the continent, as had happened, and is happening in other parts of the world experiencing geometric growth in human development, further serving as a beacon to the Global African (Black) Community.

“Language as a prerequisite for social and economic development has been shown and proven by the utilisation of “indigenous” languages in the production and reproduction of knowledge in the various “developed” countries, and Nigeria cannot be different if there is seriousness in the pursuit of development. This was a fact recognised by both the Egbe Omo Oduduwa as well as the Action Group Government of the Western Region by its deliberate pursuit of the development of the Yoruba language, culture and history.

“The Swiss Confederation provides the classic response to Nigeria’s multiplicity in its recognition of itself as a multination entity, hence requiring the establishment of a multinational state where the various issues attending to such multiplicity can be conveniently explored, realised and resolved. Nigeria cannot be any different.

“A referendum in Yorubaland is the only way to determine the Yoruba response to the current demands for “Restructuring” from various quarters, including the call for true federalism by Yoruba leaders in their recent meeting with the Federal Government delegation led by its Chief of Staff, Agboola Gambari.”

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