The Pan-Yoruba socio- political organisation, Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, has warned that Nigeria’s disintegration can only be averted if the wisdom now on display in the United Kingdom on devolution of power and self-determination would be brought urgently to play in the country’s governance model.
The group in a press statement signed by its National Chairman, Olawale Oshun, and made available to journalists in Ibadan yesterday, asked for “full devolution of power to the constituent units in Nigeria, including corresponding fiscal powers and resource control.”
The group said the world would wake up on September 19 to the outcome of the Scotland referendum and that it was thrilling that it is taking place “at this critical time in the life of our country, Nigeria.”
“The United Kingdom, our erstwhile colonial master, recognises that a union of a multi-national and multi religious groups must of necessity listen and hearken to the voices of its component parts, were it to remain a great and indivisible unit.
“Consequently, the United Kingdom had consistently, since 1921 till 2012, been devolving power to the constituent units. Cumulatively the Anglo Irish Act 1921, the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Wales Act 1998 and the Scotland Act 1998 all had the effect of devolving powers to the constituent units such that direct rule from the British Parliament came to an end. Additional powers were devolved to Wales in 2006 and to Scotland in 2012,” it said.
The group maintained that Nigeria is not a nebulously defined Muslim North and Christian South country but rather a multinational, multi-religious and multi-cultural one, stating that even the British recognised this diversity and Nigerian leaders at Independence opted for a complete and true federal system of government.
It said Nigeria has not known peace since 1966 when “the military abused its oath and took the reins of government that reversed the consensually adopted federal system of government and imposed a unitary system.”
“Though the English population is about 53 million and the Scottish people about 5.5 million, it is a powerful statement that the UK is not harping on population and it is not compelling Scotland to remain within the Union. Instead, it allows the Scots to decide what they want.
“We, in Afenifere Renewal Group, assert that no matter the direction the referendum goes, the mere fact that it is allowed to hold is a statement that a free and democratic nation could and would only be built by consensus, and never by any force of arms.
“ARG notes that Yoruba people comprise more than a quarter (45 million persons) of the Nigerian population, and are in total opposition to the unitary form of government that has been imposed on the country since 1966.
“Since the country had continued to decline by all Human Development and Good Governance Standards, we ask for full devolution of powers. To delay it any further is to court further disaster and disintegration. A word is enough for the wise,” it further stated.