Kwara: Yoruba Indigenes Want Own State

Date: 2012-12-09

Rep Warns On Confab, Referendum

DESPITE the seeming uniformity among the people of the state in the area of language, their views on how the state should operate and structured are not similar.

At the Kwara Central senatorial district, which has Ilorin as the state capital, two vital issues are paramount in the minds of the people: the need for creation of more local governments and non-establishment of state police.

According to one of the members of the House of Representatives from the district, Moshood Mustapha, creation of more councils was imperative, as the tier of government remains the closest to the people.

The views of people of the district tallied with those of their colleagues in Kwara North senatorial district, but with creation of a new state out of Kwara the strongest in the agitation of people of Kwara South.

Kwara South, consisting mainly of the Yoruba stock from Ile Ife, cited proximity to their kith and kin in Ila Orangun in Osun State and the socio-cultural and historical similarities with the people. Thus, they are clamouring for the prompt creation of Igbomina State out of Kwara.

A memorandum on the state creation was submitted to the Senate Committee on the Review of 1999 Constitution on July 25. The proposed map of the state in view has been drawn with two council areas of Osun State - Ila Orangun and Ifedayo - sited at the southern part of the new state.

These local governments are expected to join five others from the present Kwara. These are, Ifelodun, Irepodun, Isin, Offa and Oyun.

But the Ekiti stock at the senatorial district, consisting of Ekiti and Oke Ero councils, would want to be merged with those of the present Ekiti State.

Signatories to the creation of Igbomina State include: National President of Asepo Omo Igbomina, Prince G.A.O Oyinlola; Rev. Adeniyi Babalola, member, Board of Trustees, Asepo Omo Igbomina, Ifedayo LGA of Osun State, and Professor L.O Fakeye, Ila LGA of Osun State.

The memorandum quoted copiously from Minorities Commission by the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir Allan Lennox-Boyed in September 1957.

It reads: "We are descendants of Oduduwa, the progenitor of Yoruba race. We are therefore Yoruba by tribe, culture, and language. The struggle for socio-economic and political emancipation of our people dated (sic) back to the era of Sir Lennox-Boyed, the then Secretary of States.

"The Commission, in its findings, recognised the problems of the minorities, which cut across the country, and accepted the need to realign some groups from one region to the other. It therefore concluded that more states be created from one region to the other on the principles of ethnic relationship to reflect homogeneity."

However, a member of the House of Representatives from Kwara North Baruten/Kiama, Zakari Mohammed, thought differently. "We are saying instead of creating a multiplicity of states, or empowering the geopolitical zones, we need creation of more local governments because they have direct bearing on the people," he said.

"We in Baruten/Kaiama federal constituency have a stand on each of these issues and we are definitely going to articulate it and pass it on to the committee headed by the Deputy Speaker. Definitely, we are going to have a mileage for that," he said.

He added: "You could see the quality of the arguments, the passion with which people contended these issues that were brought out in the 38 amendments contained therein. What we did was a thorough process and I am just impressed with the quality of the debate.

"For us at the 7th Legislative Assembly, we have told ourselves that we are definitely going to work for the people of Nigeria and we believe that we are answerable to them."

Mohammed, who is chairman, House Committee on Information, reacted to those proposing referendum in place of the constitutional amendments thus: "It (referendum) is not in the Nigerian Constitution and it is alien to our Constitution and I am sure that the lawyers, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) should know better.

"For us as a House, there is no perfect document anywhere in the world. There is no perfect Constitution in any part of the world. You keep upholding it and tinkering at all times as you carry on.

"The Constitution of a country is in the way the country is. Some people welcome at a point in time that may be our grandchildren, our great grandchildren can come and bring up certain ideas and begin to put it up and embed it in the Constitution."

Mohammed disagreed that the entire Constitution is faulty, noting that such blanket condemnation "comes from the quarters that you begin to think that these people should be enlightened enough to know that if you say we should throw out the entire Constitution, the institutions that are products of that Constitution become all illegal."

"If you throw them out, where do you start from? Who conducts the Conference? Where do you have the funding? Who moderates it? What modus operandi are we going to operate with?

"We are leaders in our right and we believe that rather than throw out the Constitution and throw the country into confusion, we should look for a leeway out," he said.

"Every responsible government, every responsible people will look for a leeway in every situation. That is what leadership is all about. It is about proffering solutions at every point in time. You navigate as at when it is stormy and take a right course. That is exactly what we believe in the seventh National Assembly that we are doing."

He said the issues at stake had been brought to the public domain, stressing, "we had interacted and I know that in my constituency, some of your colleagues were there with me; it was democratic."

"Every issue was taken according to its merit. And people debated. They had a very robust debate and at the end of the day, we came up with a common stand on each of one of these issues.

"The views, the aggregate views of the people, will be collated and, of course, that will form the stand of the Nigerian people, as far as we are concerned.

But Mohammed cautioned. "Never miss it. Some people have lost elections; some people have lost relevance; they believe that the best way to come back is to begin to ask for a Confab.

"If you want to stand in an election, go and follow the due process as enshrined in the Constitution. Pick up the party nomination form. Sell yourself to the people. Be accepted and come out rather than doing it in your own way.

"You cannot get into the House through the chimney. We are empowered by the Constitution to tinker with the Constitution. And we said the amendment is our own power within the purview of our powers.

"There is nothing that we are doing in excess. But the people that are asking for referendum, for confab, for some sorts of things, I think if we search their views, it might not be in the best interest of Nigeria."


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