Apparently worried by the failure of the Buhari administration as well as previous failed attempts to restructure Nigeria, Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), a welfarist socio-political group, is currently charging elected public officials of Western Nigeria, to be aligning strongly with the wishes of the electorate, and subjugate their personal interest to that of the people.
The group is also calling on President Muhammadu Buhari “to acknowledge that he is not the only one in love with Nigeria’s continued existence, Yorùbá self determination activists do, just that there must be justice and equity for all Nigerian citizens.’’
In a three-page communique issued after a three-day retreat In Ijebu-Imushin, Ijebu East Local East Government Area of Ogun State, they equally called on Governor Dapo Abiodun to immediately sign the Anti-Open Grazing Bill, 2021 into law since it has been passed by the Ogun State House of Assembly.
The communique commended Governors of Southern Nigeria States for their boldness in enacting a legislation that bans open grazing and herding of cattle. ARG is therefore, calling for strict enforcement of this law.
While charging community and traditional leaders to help in the enforcement effort, the group argued that Nigeria will be living on borrowed times if the clamour for restructuring continues to fall on deaf ears, and lamented the molestation of Nigerians across geo-political divides and the economic deprivation of Yoruba peasant farmers from their legitimate occupation.
According to it, agitation for restructuring started in 1993 after the annulment of June 12 presidential election won by the late businessman, Chief M.K.O. Abiola. The agitation, according to ARG, led to civil transition on May 29, 1999.
Continuing, it said in 2005, the Obasanjo administration convened the National Political Reforms Conference in response to popular demands then, but that the confab ended abruptly amid allegations of a third term agenda by the former president.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan also convened the National Conference in 2014 under late Justice Idris Kutigi to address imbalance and injustice that characterised the federal system, and in 2018, All Progressives Congress (APC) set up a Committee on True Federalism to devolve more powers to the federating units. But the report of the committee had been dumped in the archive of history.
ARG in its communique says the unshaken faith of the Yoruba people in the need to restructure Nigeria is captured in their 2005 Agenda as “Regional Autonomy or Nothing’’, warning that the recalcitrance of the ruling clique and the Presidency “can only push moderate Yoruba people to the wall, as can be derived from the present clamour for self-determination.
“Nigeria may therefore be living on borrowed times as long as the strident calls for restructuring continue to fall on deaf ears. We therefore reaffirm the need for an urgent restructuring of Nigeria.
“The debate that preceded the implementation of Amotekun security initiative, the ‘inchoate’ nature of local council development authorities and the ongoing furore over collection and distribution of Value Added Tax (VAT) are symptoms of the breakdown of trust within the federation, especially between the federal and state governments.”
“If however these are denied as the 1999 Constitution perpetually does, they should not be blamed for their clamour”, and expressed grave concern about the debilitating insecurity incidents across the country, which amongst others include kidnapping, maiming, molestation of Nigerians and in particular the economic deprivation of Yoruba peasant farmers from their legitimate occupation,
ARG also condemned the lethargy of all the security agencies that should have nipped these violent acts in the bud, and called on all security agencies to awaken fully to their responsibility as well as on all the governments in Yorubaland “to as a matter of urgency collaborate with one another to strengthen the Amotekun security agency to enable them offer reasonable level of protection to people in their domain.
While the ARG communique said, “they should also explore the place of formal and informal intelligence gathering systems in the resolution of the problems in their joint domain’’, it further implored all governments in Yorubaland “to consider and implement as a matter of urgency agricultural policies that would assure the region sufficient food security, and also contribute to the livestock production basket of the whole country.”