(Vanguard of Sunday, January 29, 2006)
On January 15, I told you that during the 2004 commemoration of the annulment of the June 12 Presidential Election of 1993 which Moshood Abiola won, I made certain remarks about the Yoruba which I said I was willing to take back on terms. I said I would do so in our outing on January 22, but that day, that is last week, we had to attend to the tree that fell on top of our Iroko. That is, and I refuse to say was, the Ladoja Tree.
I say it is still a present tense matter because of how we have been seemingly successfully replacing constitutionality with banter. I refuse to honour what is going on with more worth than the word banter.
That Ladoja, among other disregard of court rulings, refused to swear in someone who won an election in 2004 is bad enough, even criminal, and condemnable. But that is not the issue. Ladoja is not the issue.
The removal of a governor from office is the issue. The removal itself is not questionable because the Constitution says so. But the Constitution also says how the removal must be done, and this, the courts must look at. Is that not why the courts are there?
The way we are going, someone may well announce that in accordance with section 188 of the Constitution, Lagbaja has ceased to be governor of Oja State. Lagbaja goes to court and some judicial icons say because Oridota who took over is being obeyed by everyone, then the Doctrine of Efficacy has overridden the provisions that stipulate that this is how Lagbaja must be removed. So, without knowing it, we are looking at Lagbaja, not the office.
And so, when some mad people overrun the government, outside due process, and are obeyed by the civil service and the courts and there is no serious opposition from anywhere, then, in line with Honourabel Richard Akinjide’s Docrtine of Efficacy, the military is constitutionally in power!
I have never been so insulted and assaulted by one I fell so much in love with because of the wonderful work he did with his Nigerian Monthly Law Reports that I visited him at his Ikoyi residence and wanted to work in his chambers. That was when I wanted to disengage from the Daily Times.
He may have forgotten. But I showed him a 45-page summary of the amount of work I had done in writing the Commercial Law Reports in theBusiness Times between 1975 and 1980. He was then Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the Shagari government.
Although I was politically committed in not accepting the mathematics of twelve-two-thirds which brought the National Party of Nigeria to power in 1979, I respected his prowess. But when this time we need his services most, he is telling the Sun newspaper that there is a doctrine in international law which makes de facto situations de jure. I am sick.
So, for me, the Ladoja matter which has to do with the procedure for removing a governor from office, is a present tense matter, and is a tree that must be removed from the top of many other trees which have blocked our march on the Democracy Highway
It is not as if these trees fell across the road because of a storm. No. We went into the forest and cut the trees and dragged them across the road we are walking. It is the same thing we have been doing with getting Nigeria to work again.
And this is where I am pleading with the Yoruba to mount a campaign to sell the Yoruba Agenda 2005 to the people of Nigeria. The marketing mix is getting acidic every passing day.
But let us see things in relation to what can befall us and swallow our pride, take Nigeria for what it is meant to be, for what we can let it be, and bearing in mind its mission as the next world power anchored on spiritual recognitions, take the bold step to restructure this country before 2007.
The up-building can then begin. But there can be no up-building without structures to anchor it. What is being proposed by the National Assembly Sub-Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution has not gone far enough. It is like mending a broken leg with clay!
The Yoruba Agenda 2005 is the simplest approach to solving our problems which are structural and will stress the building into collapse before the up-building, which must come, begins.
They say devolve power to the regions or zones. The six zones have emerged. They are no longer insisting that Yoruba-speaking people all over the country must come together. No. They say the present zones can be the cells we need to re-order Nigeria.
They were ready to push this position at the National Political Reform Conference, but for whatever reason that was not made public, the delegates from the South West Zone turned full circle and opted for the cosmetic option that emerged from the conference in the name of 87 recommendations, the most important two of which no agreement was reached!
But at the gathering of governors, legislators, traditional rulers, socio-political leaders of the Southern States of Nigeria held in Enugu on December 19, 2005, the conference, convened by Afenifere, Ohaneze N’digbo. South-South Peoples Assembly and Yoruba Council of Elders, came out with what in all fours is like the Yoruba Agenda 2005.
Only governors Tinubu and Ngige of Lagos and Anambra States did not sign the communiqué which is asking that the process of constitutional amendments/reforms be started immediately to take effect from 2007. The key thing to have taken precedent over everything else now came in as a threat – if the reforms do not take place before 2007 “the South shall boycott the 2007 elections and consider the reconstitution of the country as a Confederation on the basis of the six geo-political zones, with each zone retaining its resources and contributing to the center on the basis of an agreed principle, failure of which the South shall stop forthwith resources derived from its geo-political zone.”
My praise for the children of Oduduwa is that they have all now agreed that what they wanted to put forward to Nigeria at the Political Reform Conference and which their governors sabotaged, has come up for reconsideration, and is fully backed by their governors and the two Yoruba cultural groups, Afenifere and Yoruba Council of Elders.
But the Southern Forum, as the Enugu outing is now to be known, gave the much-needed restructuring as an option to their not producing the next President! This is not paving way for the up-building that is demanded of us at this preparatory stage of our mission. It will up the stakes, and it has, because the Northern Forum is saying there can be no amendment of the Constitution until AFTER the 2007 elections.
Both Northern and Southern groups do not seem to get the point. Positions of the immediate future shall be the services to mankind that they are meant to be in God’s Creation. How much does God charge us for the gift of life and all that He has done to sustain it on this Earth which we are fighting to own and control?
What the Yoruba are saying is not even new. There was a proposal to this end in 1910 when what Nigeria should look like was being planned in the Colonial office. Our Founding Fathers, Zik, Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello, endorsed a structure dictated by our multi-ethnicity, multi-culturalism and multi-religiousness which no one asking to occupy the so-called plum job of President can deny.
Zik asked for a federation of eight regions in 1943, Awolowo in 1948 and Ahmadu Bello in 1953. We celebrate these leaders today as our guiding light but refuse to look at what they bequeathed to us that would have made this country grow. What is our problem?
Let all of us be warned — the culture of sharing is not on in the new order. This culture is one of taking, not of giving service. But, believe it or not, we are into a spiritual age when humans must know that they are there to give service. And those who refuse to accept this truth shall know that they are mere creatures
(Published in Vol 2 of Democracy Watch, A Monitor’s Diary by Tony Momoh, pages 88 – 91; Lagos 2008 )