BEING THE COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE VOICE OF REASON (VOR) 1ST COLLOQUIUM ON THE THEME – RESTRUCTURING: A PANACEA FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE IN NIGERIA. HELD AT THE NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS (NIIA), VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS ON THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 2018.
The Voice of Reason (VOR) is a grouping of eminent Nigerians of Yoruba descent. It focusses on policy advocacy and public-good issues within the strategic context of effective, just, peaceful and results-oriented governance of Nigeria in general, and of Yorubaland in particular. Its core agenda is to ensure realization of a decentralized restructuring of the workings of government at all levels, underscored by a new people’s constitution for the Regions and for the central government of Nigeria’s Federal Republic.
At last the recent well-attended First Colloquium of VOR – chaired by Olorogun Sunny Kuku, with the theme, Restructuring: A Panacea for Justice and Peace in Nigeria, eminent Nigerians from all works of life made insightful contributions on the structures and processes required for building a viable federation of Nigerian nations, where ‘peace and justice’ truly reign supreme. The Colloquium witnessed a star line-up of speakers and discussants, including Olisah Agbakoba, (SAN), Ankio Briggs, eminent Niger Delta policy advocate, visionary development thinker, good-governance advocate and youth leader, Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, nuclear-physicist, medical-doctor and multi-lingual son of Nigeria’s first Prime-Minister, Dr. Abdul-Jelil Tafawa Balewa, Tony Nnadi, eminent legal and constitutional analyst, and insightful advocate of restructuring, decentralization activist and campaigner, Col. Tony Nyam (rtd), among many other prominent Nigerian public figures from the media, academia, civil society and private-sector professions.
After what VOR termed a ‘Big-Bang’ event, in which an Alternative Draft Constitution (Work in Progress) – for peace, justice and good, development-oriented governance in Nigeria was unveiled and proposed for consideration and deep reflection by government and the people (a draft document subjected to open and in-depth plenary discussion), the following 7-point Communique was issued:
• That the governance, socio-economic, security and political dysfunction in the current Nigerian polity is of such magnitude as to make an immediate focus on Restructuring a far more urgent national priority than politicking and electioneering activities towards elections in 2019; and that being so, that it is in the higher national interest for government to put in motion the required framework, mechanisms, processes and democratic consensus for restructuring before 2019 elections; Or, in the alternative, to put in place an interim governance arrangement ensuring government-continuity, so that the 2019 elections are postponed, to enable the country address its structural and dysfunctionality challenges; thereby enabling Nigeria at last to embark on the long-elusive path to sustainable economic, human-asset and technological development;
• That since the medium and long term outcomes, as well as the challenges of maintaining a peaceful, developmentally-oriented and technologically competitive country will fall on the populations within the 0 to 45 age demographic pool across Yorubaland (and nation-wide), VOR should mobilize more deliberate effort to involve and empower the youth population – intellectually and on nation-building policy imperatives – to be present and participate effectively at all its future ‘Big-Bang’ events, such as this June 28 Colloquium on Restructuring, with the accompanying public presentation of a draft alternative constitution for Nigeria;
• That after 100 years of what started as a colonially-imposed cohabitation as a nation (since the 1914 Amalgamation), and given the inherent instability, mistrust and diminishing, rather than increasing sense of national unity, that Nigeria has now reached a point where each region is entitled to an inherent right to demand renegotiation of the terms of amalgamation, especially if it is true, as widely speculated, that the original amalgamation document provided for a review of the terms of the imposed Union after a hundred years of amalgamation;
• That VOR should and will work in tandem with the heartland state and local-governance units across the western region of Nigeria (i.e. Yorubaland, including local governments in all Yoruba-dominated areas of Kwara, Kogi, Edo and Delta states) to create best-in-class leadership, administrative and public-accountability models – firstly, for the recovery of the autonomous structures, institutions and processes of our past golden era of good governance and socio-economic development in Yorubaland during the 1950s and 1960s; and secondly, for the reversal of the fiscal derivation and contribution arrangements that helped trigger and accelerate infrastructural, educational, agricultural and industrial development of Yorubaland before 1966, when the military replaced that efficient and effective framework with a unitarist and centralized government system;
• That VOR should work with relevant governance advocates, policy analysts and experts, private-sector business leaders, academics, political-science researchers and properly-oriented youth leaders across Yorubaland, to ‘bend’ the existing 1999 Nigerian Constitution, by putting to rigorous legal test some of its most obviously unworkable, legally confusing or invalid and illegitimate provisions – especially those which allow executive impunity and unrestrained exercise of public-office powers and privileges;
• That to help enhance the state of public security and roll back the current conditions of anomie in safety of lives and property, VOR should continue its impressive promotion of Restructuring as a panacea for true federalism and peace in Nigeria; and that to help bring more political and juridical workability to the national security architecture, VOR should work with relevant stakeholders across Nigeria to advocate for adoption of the US-type model of state-based National Guard, which can be deployed by the Central government only with the concurrence of the relevant state or Regional government.
• That VOR should set up a proper Communications Framework to enable mutually-respectful, inter-zonal or inter-regional communication and conversation on the critical issues, fears, hopes and expectations of all sides of the Nigerian Project debate and disagreements; and that VOR may thereby become the pathfinder and lighthouse to all zones and ethnic nationalities of Nigeria on peaceful dialogue, with justice and developmental competition for governance excellence.
Communiqué Drafting Committee:
Bolaji Ogunseye Aremo Dotun Hassan, Esq Prince Goke Omisore
Chairman. Secretary. Convener.