*Insists on decisive actions against banditry, kidnapping
STEPHEN GBADAMOSI, IBADAN
The Pan-Yoruba Socio-Cultural Group, Afenifere, has again called for the abolition of the 1999 Constitution and return to the 1963 Constitution, asking in the alternative that the deliberation of all ethnic groups should be held to move the country forward.
Afenifere, in a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting held at the Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State abode of its acting leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, and made available to journalists on Tuesday, noted that the meeting presided over by Chief Adebanjo and had in attendance leaders from all
the states in the South-West, including Kwara and Kogi states, deliberated on various issues concerning the Nigeria nation, “particularly in the ways that they affect the Yoruba people.”
The group said it was worried by the political, security and economic situations in the country.
“Specifically, the meeting deliberated on social, political, security and economic situations of the country. It observed that the country is going through a lot of trauma. Afenifere also discussed the issue of restructuring and the 2023 elections.
“The meeting also deliberated on the consistent advocacy by Dr. Ahmed Gumi on the government to pardon terrorists and to even compensate them in various ways.
“After exhaustive deliberations on these issues, the following resolutions were made:
“Afenifere seriously and comprehensively considered the current political trajectory of the country. The meeting was in no doubt that most, if not, of the problems bedeviling Nigeria would not have arisen if the original constitution agreed upon by our founding fathers had not been jettisoned.
“Afenifere recalled that during the struggle for independence and the mantra of ‘One Nigeria’ was being sung, Chief Obafemi Awolowo insisted that federalism was the only system of government that could sustain Nigeria as a country.
“The federal constitution enabled Nigeria to progress very well until the military scuttled the Republican Constitution in 1966. We have been consistent in opposing military-midwifed constitution.
“Afenifere, through the Alliance for Democracy (AD), participated in the 1999 elections, not because we believe in that constitution, but to let the South-West stand politically in Nigeria.
That was why we advocated for Sovereign National Conference (SNC). Although, the past administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan did a National Conference, rather than the SNC that we advocated, it is on record that the report of the said Confab was never implemented.
“This is why we have again consistently been calling for are negotiation of the basis of our staying together as a country.
“Afenifere is presenting this matter in two ways: The country should go back to the 1963 Constitution that was abrogated by the military.
“In the alternative, the meeting of ethnic nationalities and related stakeholders should be conveyed. Such a meeting would provide an opportunity for all of us to redefine the basis of staying together.
“We are still very much convinced that it is in either of the two propositions that solutions to numerous problems afflicting Nigeria lie.
“Afenifere has been consistent in its call for a replacement of the present constitution and in restructuring. In other words, we are consistent and now still insisting that restructuring that berths true federalism must take place before the 2023 elections.
“We recall that many issues that Afenifere initiated could be unpopular at the beginning. For insisting on true federalism, we were dubbed as separatists. But we are not perturbed, for we were usually vindicated at the end of the day whenever we take a principled position.
“We have no doubt whatsoever that no matter the party that takes over in 2023, the problems of Nigeria will remain, if not aggravated, if the present constitution is not changed to devolve power with true federalism entrenched.
“Afenifere, at the meeting, also deliberated seriously on the issue of unity of Nigeria. For sure, Afenifere believes in the unity of Nigeria, but not at the expense of Yoruba interest. To us, the truism, ‘charity begins from home,’ means so much.
“Afenifere noted with serious concern the insecurity problems in the country kept festering. The meeting joined the National Assembly and several others who have been talking on the matter, that those who have been kidnapping and killing people be declared as terrorists and be treated as such.
“It is unfortunate that the attitude of the authority on the issue of security in the country has not succeeded in stemming the increasing spate of insecurity in the country. On the contrary, bandits and terrorists kept getting emboldened to perpetrate their nefarious activities.
“It is ironic that some individuals could be seeking clemency for terrorists who are maiming and killing the people without any thoughts for the victims. It goes without saying that whoever deodorizes or abets evil is culpable.
“In the hope that those concerned will act fast and effectively, we advise every community to be at alert with a view to ensure that terrorists do not take over,” Afenifere said.
Among those listed to be in attendance at the meeting were the Deputy Leader, Oba Oladipo Olaitan; the Assistant Secretary-General, Honourable Leke Mabinuori; Chief Cornelius Adebayo, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Chief Supo Sonibare, Abagun Kole Omololu, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Senator Gbenga Kaka, Chief Dayo Duyile, Dr Yomi Atte, Prof Opeyemi Agbaje, among others.