Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Evolution of Modern Democracy in Yoruba Land

There are certain critical timelines in the evolution of modern democracy in Yoruba  land.

1. 1957
Western Nigeria gained independence from colonial rule and went into self-governance.

Awolowo installed his socialist reform policies for free education, free healthcare and launched public awareness programs through print media, radio broadcast and TV programming.
His field agents, in conjunction with public information broadcasters, took the message of "education" into rural Yorubaland and campaigned vigorously to farmers and artisans on the value of education and its relational benefit to the land, the farm, the people and their community.

2. 1960
Nigeria is Independent and self-governance is returned to the people.

Awolowo retained the sovereignty of Western Nigeria as a concrete power and viewed Nigerian sovereignty as a pseudo-power to exist simply as an experiment. His progressive policies covered all the way up to what is today Ijaw territories and Anioma. No land under the umbrella of Western coverage was left untouched. This ran counter to the ambition in the centre  Awolowo and the West must be slowed down. Part of the scheme to effect the slow down was strengthening the centre as a Republic and thereby effecting a new citizenship status - the political impact is that Yorubas thus lost their citizenship as Westerners and became citizens under a Federal Republic of Nigeria in 63.

Also, the Federal Republic with its new power sabotaged the Western interest and excited division by campaigning a propaganda of deceit that Yorubas want to use the resources of non-Yorubas in the Western Region to develop Yoruba land and subdue them as second class citizens in the region. That propaganda succeeded in collecting signatories for a break-away from West and the creation of Mid-Western State.

Following that, Awolowo, unperturbed, continued to score many developments on the ground. He introduced produce board, farmers cooperative councils, savings and investment banks, Oodua development board, Cocoa House, incentive laced industrial complexes and a robust taxation system to fund the socialist programs of education, healthcare, retirement and pension, trade and skills learning centres as well as expansion of public awareness programs and the establishment of a political think tank group.

Cracks in the internal disagreements within the party was exploited to launch chaos and disorder. Awolowo was falsely charged of treason. Akintola was installed, mayhem broke and the independence status of Western Nigeria was substantially erased when Federal troops were deployed to maintain law and order. Politically that was a territorial invasion into a sovereign soil. That event brought Yoruba land firmly into the grip of Federal authorities and Yoruba lost its 1957 sovereignty privilege.

3. 1966.
Double Coups and military power
In quick successions and back to back all the ideals of a great Yoruba society and the 9 years progress from 57 to 66 were thrown out. There was no way we could ever reverse and gain those exclusive trajectory of developments back.

However, with the widespread frustration of failure with the experiments of nationhood, it appeared that egos were deflated and defeated in the two regions North and East who in their political coalition had ganged up to sabotage the sovereign progress in the West, and finally each region might take its loss and start back up where it missed the road in 63. If that had happened West could perhaps have had a second shot at it....after all, beside the ones killed in the coups, most of the principal ideologues were still alive and the blueprint is there, the infrastructures were there.

Yoruba was ready for another shot at sovereignty  North was ready and it appeared Mid-West and East were ready. This was the first SNC, popularly called Aburi Accord.

In its implementation, East raised accusations that the central military power was biased and lacked credibility. East approached the Accord as a matter of principles and failed to see the political benefit. Even when the political rewards were pointed out and they were persuaded to accept that and use it pivotally to later negotiate and firm up on the principles, it was rejected as all or nothing. In the struggle to gain much East ended up loosing all. The hope therefore that Nigeria will be dissolved was lost and a new elite-class of rulers mounted the centre.

4. 1967
A negotiated agreement to move all non-Yoruba military personnel out of Yoruba land had been won and was awaiting execution when East suddenly marched into Mid-West and changed the course of events.

Yoruba land was occupied by a horde of non-Yoruba foreigners conscripted in the North by Federal power and then Biafra had advanced into Ore and aiming for Lagos and Ibadan.

If Federal troops had deployed out before Biafra had launch, there might not be a Nigeria today and West would have secured its borders militarily against incursion in East or North. This would definitely have prompted Ojukwu to view his opportunities from a different angle....but his rebellion resulted in another missed opportunity for sovereignty.

5. 1970 to 79
Military Leadership
For the first time in the history of Yoruba land a non-Yoruba sits as a ruler over the land and directs the affairs in our Oba's palace.

We ended up with foreigners as governors over us. Not only did we loose a sovereignty  we also lost right of political supremacy that dated back into ancient history. Never before has any foreign power dictated decision making to an Ooni or an Alaafin. Even the Colonialists did not do that. Now we have an Ezechukwu and a Yakassai, a Donald and a Luther, a Babagana and a Okon serving as Lords over us.

These are some of the pains of what the loss of sovereingty cost us.

6. 1979
Return to Democracy
The period of 70 to 79 has brought in the new age of national project. Government contractors were swimming in wealth. A new movement came alive.....the movement of money is power! It used to be Independence is power in the 60s. MKO, Akinjide, Omoboriowo, Ogunlana.....these people departed from the Yoruba struggle and consciousness for exclusivity and sovereignty and camped with the power in the centre for personal gains.

Yoruba land lost its grip on self-sufficiency from 79 through 99.....a period of twenty years!

In that period, we suffered on our land a repeat of what we went through between 63 and 70, except that this time it happened on a different scale.

6. 2000 to 2015
Our experience has taught lessons. We have seen wisdom in the knowledge that we are at our best when we focus in on our commonwealth and regard Nigeria as a toxic and unfriendly landscape and our land and people must be secured and shielded from its vagaries.

We are confronted by another opportunity to give Western Sovereignty a shot. Elements of individualism must be subdued for the purpose of collective gains.

If everybody agitate for their land or state to be capital.....then where do we get food, educators, military, artisans, and so on?

Each land must put forward its best footing and be our capital for that value-add to the society.

Dudu-N ** of Nairaland

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