Governor Olusegun Mimiko shocked the Yoruba nation when the proposal to consider regions as Nigeria’s federating unit came up at the 2014 National conference.
The delegates he sent to represent Ondo State, as well as those from Lagos State, worked against the proposal, which arguably is the cornerstone of the Yoruba Agenda – one that exhumes glorious memories from the grave dug by repressive forces of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The “Gedegbe l’Eko wa” (Lagos stands alone) movement has been around since the Second Republic and has been the subject of robust debates and politicking among Leaders of Thought.
But for Mimiko, that was the first time ever when an audacious claim would be made that the people of Ondo State do not want to be part of Yoruba as a federating unit. And it was shocking, considering the huge part of Yoruba socio-political history and renaissance that adorn the landscape now known as Ondo State.
What made the Ondo delegates’ claim appalling was why it was exhumed after it was killed and buried at a meeting of Yoruba socio-political leaders in Ishara-Remo, home of Baba Olaniwun Ajayi where Mimiko first “whispered” it.
At the meeting, Governor Mimiko canvassed two issues as part of the agenda of the Yoruba nation to the proposed confab: that states should be the federating units (instead of regions/zones) and that Derivation Income be increased from the current 13 percent to 25 percent. Auspiciously, it was former Governor Gbenga Daniel that pointed out that Mimiko’s proposal is a South-South agenda, and in fact anti-Yoruba.
A committee was set up, headed by Chief Sola Ogunsola, former Chairman of The Punch, and including Daniel and Mimiko, tasked to come up with an analysis of the impact of increasing Derivation on states in Yoruba land. The report showed that increasing Derivation will not favour Yoruba states, unless the Derivation principle can be extended to other derivable incomes like VAT, corporate taxes, and port administrations.
Effectively – so everyone thought – Mimiko’s two proposals were overruled by an assembly of Yoruba leaders and it was shocking that he exhumed the rotten agenda and pursued it as a counterforce to the Yoruba Agenda at the confab.
However, of recent, Governor Mimiko has been on a roller-coaster ride, trying to present himself as a Yoruba leader championing the “Yoruba cause” or “Yoruba Agenda”. How could it be that a person who, just about a year ago, helped to decimate the Yoruba Agenda, is now the one aspiring to Yoruba leadership, armed with an agenda that he defeated? Travesty!
As General Alani Akinriande said in his speech at the Yoruba Assembly Summit in Ibadan on March 19, “In our land today we no longer have a consensus on what is right or wrong as long as it paddles our canoe.” Mimiko’s political trajectory bears the chameleonic symbolism, ready to change garb for egocentric reasons. As of today, he is arguably the arrowhead of the camp of dissemblers in Yoruba land. I call it the camp of dissemblers because that is what it is when subjected to critical analysis, discounting the stereotypical nature of the Nigerian media that has wrongly described the Yoruba political landscape today as either pro-Jonathan or pro-Buhari.
There is an irony in the Mimiko camp. Many of those therein, including Mimiko, are either strangers to or deserters of the philosophy they are now so crazy about. Like the seeds that fell by the wayside and those that fell on the rock in that iconic Biblical Parable of the Sower, they lack the moral compass and solid roots needed to fruitfully bear this gospel of true federalism.
I watched on television as the PDP Governor’s Forum made a mess of this philosophy when they came to Lagos and how even Mimiko could not salvage it. Inevitably, they need to hide under the cover of the elders in Afenifere, who, in fact, are the founding proponents of this message but who (some, not all) sold out, Afonja-esque, on the philosophy during the Obasanjo tenure, opening a backdoor for the “enemy” to conquer the South West.
These elders have engaged in media frenzy, forgetting that what they owe the Yoruba nation is first an unreserved apology for their treacherous acts of 2003 that brought eight years of retrogressive governance, political violence, murders, and all manner of untold hardship to Yoruba land.
While a truly federal Nigeria is a desired product, the means employed by these dissemblers are suspicious. It is an error of judgement by the Mimiko’s camp to market the confab report as “Jonathan’s report” instead of a product of sacrifices of about 500 delegates. It should be marketed to Nigerians, not just the Yoruba people.
I am an advocate of the fact that the 2014 confab made some gains. In fact, I believe the consensual spirit that prevailed there should be leveraged upon to jumpstart a new Nigerian nationalism. But I cannot also ignore the failure to resolve the most critical issues that are fundamental to True Federalism. This failure, especially of the nagging issue of fiscal management, makes it possible to take with the right hand what the confab gave with the left hand.
Also, the Exclusive legislative list agreed upon at the confab is still as unwieldy as ever and will not reduce the corruption-prone cost of governance. It has 58 items on it as against about 25 prescribed by the Yoruba Agenda, and retained the Concurrent Legislative List, which the Yoruba Agenda frowns at.
What Mimiko’s camp is doing is akin to selling a substandard product, which sacrifices the right of people to quality living for some selfish interest. We are all victims – whether benignly or malignly – of such products that pass through the watchful eyes of regulatory agencies into Nigerian markets.
I am not bothered about Mimiko’s camp. What bothers me is whether Yoruba people will buy the substandard product they hawk.
Segun Balogun is the Programme Officer of Afenifere Renewal Group. The opinions expressed here are his and not representative of the ARG.