A LOGICAL BASIS WHY THE HAUSA/FULANI PREFER NATIONAL ASSEMBLY STRUCTURES TO SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE:

In 1961, differences had arisen among the leading members of the Action Group, the party in power in Western Nigeria and in opposition in the Federal, Northern and Eastern legislatures.

There were basic differences between the actions and purposes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, former head of the Western Nigeria Government who later became the Leader of the Federal Opposition, and the Western Nigeria Premier, Chief S.L. Akintola and his supporters.

Chief Akintola ostensibly formed a political alignment with the Northern Nigeria Premier, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello. The Action Group defined this as “democratic socialism”

In early May 1962, Chief Akintola charged his Party Leader with interfering in his work as Leader of the Government and of not being prepared to permit him any initiative. Chief Awolowo countered that Chief Akintola had ignored party instructions regarding governmental policy, particularly in raising local contributions to secondary grammar schools and thus the fees, and in reducing the price payable to local producers of cocoa.

The rift had widened to unprecedented proportions and the party elders led Chief Rotimi Williams,” Q.C. the Action Group Legal Adviser and former Western Nigeria Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, endeavored to bring peace, but failed. Then the party requested Chief Akintola to resign his party position of Deputy Leader and the Premiership. He refused and the Governor, Sir Adesoji Aderemi, who had himself also tried unsuccessfully to reconcile both factions of the Action Group, dismissed Chief Akintola, when he felt that the Premier no longer commanded the confidence of the legislature. Chief D.S. Adegbenro, who was Minister of Local Government, was nominated as the leader of Government by the party and appointed Premier by the Governor.

When the House of Assembly met at Ibadan to ratify the new Government, fighting broke out within the legislative chamber and many members were injured including a Minister. In addition, the mace, the symbol of parliamentary authority, was broken. A second meeting also ended in uproar.

Chief Akintola met with his new political friend, Northern Nigeria Premier, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, who commanded his ‘boy’ Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister, to summoned the Federal Parliament to an emergency meeting on 29 May 1962 to determine what action could be taken in the exceptional circumstance prevailing in Western Nigeria.

In a motion proposed by the Prime Minister, he sought parliamentary approval to declare a state of emergency in the Western Region. The motion was approved by 209 votes to 36 in the House of Representatives and in the Senate by 32 votes to 7 with two abstentions.

Speaking to the motion, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who led one of the Action Group factions in the dispute said: “… this motion is discriminatory. I have already given instances to support this contention, and I do not want to go over those incidents again. I have made reference to the riots in the Tiv Division and the riots in Okrika and so on and so forth. I do not want to repeat them. But if this can be done to the Western Region, why was it not done to the Northern Region or the Eastern Region? I want the Prime Minister not only to project the image of being a state man in his dealing with the East and the North, I also want him to project the image of an impartial arbiter and statesman in his dealings with a Region which is not of his origin and a Region in which a party opposed to his party is in the power, a Region in which a party-the Action Group-has its base and from where it operates… Finally the step that is now being taken in this resolution is a violent assault on democratic institutions in Nigeria. It assumes that Parliament can only meet at the sufferance of a group of people who are hostile to that particular party and who are friendly to the Federal Government. That is a dangerous assumption and the Prime Minister must disabuse the minds of all right-thinking people that he had no intention at all to lend his weight to any group, however friendly they may be to him, in castrating the activities of Parliament.

For the reason why the Hausa/Fulani and Kanuri prefer the present National Assembly structures to a Sovereign National Conference, just like in the 1962 proposed motion of the Prime Minister to declare a state of emergency in the Western Region, the Northerners had over 60% of the members of the parliament and all voted to destabilise the Yoruba region both at the House of Representatives and the Senate. A region they don’t reside in or have any relationship with. 

In today National Assembly, they still have the majority members and can always use that numbers to their advantage. They destroyed the Yoruba region in order to install their friend and stooge (Akintola) the Premier of the Western Region. Today, they prefer the hopelessly corrupt National Assembly over a Sovereign National Conference that gives equal representation to all the nations that make up Nigeria. 

Support the call for Sovereign National Conference and if the Hausa/Fulani are refusing, lets us break up the bull sh*t called Nigeria. They cannot win the fight. They cannot fight the Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Edo, Tiv, Igala, Igbira, Idoma all at the same time. Biafrans lost the war because they fought against several nations simultaneously.

Advertisements

ECONOMIC REFORM FOR YORUBALAND – LAND VALUE TAX

The Nigeria state is a complex place.

The pundits and journalists will tell you that there are no simple remedies to our problems, with an air of authority reserved only for those serious few with the courage to offer up this sober dose of “reality.” Besides, even if there were a simple solution, we can’t agree on the most basic of things anyways, since we are so “polarized,” or so the narrative goes.

So instead of actually solving problems, the best we can hope for is a series of convoluted band-aid solutions to fix whatever crisis is at hand. Since Nigeria is therefore not a going concern for the foreseeable future, it is imperative we focus our attention on our homeland – The Yorubaland.

Unemployment is soaring, affordable housing is a huge problem, transport network is insufficient, qualitative healthcare is unavailable and other infrastructural investment.

Everyone seems to agree there is something seriously wrong with the modern Yoruba political discourse. Some blame the amalgamation, some blame the unitary system of Nigeria, and a fair number are now blaming the lack of True Federalism.  There is plenty of blame to go around, and I would contend that we have a failure of critical thinking on the part of our intellectuals of all stripes.

It is undoubtedly the case that our establishment intellectuals are not chosen on the basis of their merit, but mostly on their compatibility with the interests of the privileged classes. Yet, I’m not just blaming the establishment figures; I’m blaming all politically-minded citizens who buy into their oh-so serious arguments and false political divisions.

What if I told you there was a solution which transcends political divisions? Which is consistent with the ideals of our Founding Fathers? Which can be implemented anywhere on the local, state, or federal level? Which can increase our overall prosperity, reduce inequality, promote peace, and improve the environment all at the same time? Which can do all this without any major restructuring of our institutions?

Assuming such a remedy even exists, surely it would be controversial, right? Something which all the various political ideologies within Yorubaland could never agree on? Well the remedy does exist, and it has been supported by principled people of nearly every political persuasion, including some of the greatest minds in history.

The answer has nothing to do with techno-utopianism, monetary reform, austerity, or any of the other ideological cul-de-sacs commonly promoted. Land Value Tax is a method of raising public revenue by means of an annual tax on the rental value of Land. It would replace, not add to, existing taxes. Properly applied, Land Rent Tax would support a whole range of social and economic initiatives, including free and qualitative healthcare, free education, affordable housing, air, water, road and rail transport, and other infrastructural investments. It is an elementary of fiscal measure that would go far towards correcting fundamental economic and social ill.

The value of every parcel of land in Yorubaland would be assessed regularly and the land value tax levied as a percentage of those assed values.

“Land” means the site alone, not counting any improvements. The value of buildings, crops, drainage or any other works which people have erected or carried out on each plot of land would be ignored, but it would be assumed that all neighbouring properties were developed as at the time of the valuation; other things being equal, a vacant site in a row of houses would be assessed at the same value as the adjacent sites occupied by houses.

The valuation would be based on market evidence, in accordance with the optimum use of the land within the planning regulations. If the current planning restrictions on the use were altered, the site would be reassessed.

the advantages…

A NATURAL SOURCE OF PUBLIC REVENUE: All land makes its full contribution to the state, allowing reductions in existing taxes on labour and enterprise.

A STRONGER ECONOMY: If we tax labour, buildings or machinery and plant, we discourage people from constructive and beneficial activities and penalize enterprise and efficiency. The reverse is the case with a tax on land values, which is payable regardless of whether or how well the land is actually used. It is a payment, based on current market value, for the exclusive occupation of a piece of land. In the longer term, this fundamentally new and different approach to revenue raising will stimulate new business and new employment, reducing the need for costly government welfare.

MARGINAL AREAS REVITALISED: Economic activities are handicapped by distance from the major centres of population. Conventional taxes such as VAT and those on transport fuels cause particular damage to the remoter areas of the country. Land Value Tax, by definition, bears lightly or not at all where land has little or no value, thereby stimulating economic activity away from the centre –it creates what are in effect tax havens exactly where they are most needed.

A MORE EFFICIENT LAND MARKET: The necessity to pay the tax obliges landowners to develop vacant and under-used land properly or to make way for others who will.

LESS URBAN SPRAWL: Land Value Tax deters speculative land holding. These dilapidated inner-city areas are returned to good use, reducing the pressure for building on green-field sites.

LESS BUREAUCRACY: The complexities of Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax and VAT are well known. By contrast, Land Value Tax is straightforward. Once the system has settled down, landholders will not be faced with complicated forms and demands for information. Revaluation will become relatively simple.

NO AVOIDANCE OR EVASION: Land cannot be hidden, removed to a tax haven or concealed in an electronic data system.

AN END TO BOOM-SLUMP CYCLES: Speculation in land value –frequently misrepresented and disguised as “property” or “asset” speculation – is the root cause of unsustainable booms which result periodically in damaging corrective slumps. Land Value Taxation, fully and properly applied, knocks the speculative element out of land pricing.

IMPOSSIBLE TO PASS ON IN HIGHER PRICES, LOWER WAGES OR HIGHER RENTS: Competition makes it impossible for a business producing goods on a valuable site to charge more per item than one producing similar goods on less valuable land – after all, producers and traders at different locations are paying different rents to landlords now, yet like goods generally sell for much the same price and employers pay their workers comparable wages. The tax cannot be passed on to a tenant who is already paying the full market rent.

AN ESTABLISHED AND PROVEN SYSTEM: Local government variants of Land Value Taxation are accepted practice.

is it fair?

Land (unlike goods and services) has no cost of production. If an ample supply of land of equal desirability were everywhere, there would be nothing to pay for its use. In reality land acquires a scarcity value owing to the competing needs of the community for living, working and leisure space. Thus land value owes nothing to individual effort and everything to the community at large. It belongs justly and uniquely to the community. Conversely, the reward for individual effort can belong only to the one who earns it, to spend, save or give away as he or she may see fit.

Because of differences in positional advantages, fertility or natural resources, some locations are more desirable than others. Demand for access to these features gives land its rental value.

THE CASE FOR CHANGE

The first and greatest reason for demanding a Yoruba Regional Government is that the people of Yorubaland want and deserve democracy. Their will is powerful, clear and true every time opinion is sounded. It has been expressed calmly and consistently over a period of decades, and has strengthened rather than diminished with the passing of time. In a responsive and effective democracy, this would be reason enough for change. But present unitary constitution denies Yorubaland responsive and effective democracy. That is the second reason for change.

Yoruba begins this decade facing a stark choice. It has a distinguished and distinctive structural heritage, evident in Yoruba’s legal system, its educational system, its social, cultural and religious traditions. These things are the very fabric of Yoruba society, yet Yorubaland has come to lack democratic control over them. Their conduct is determined by a system of government inimical to growth and development in a multicultural society, operating through a dense tangle of unelected Ministers and Special Advisers. These offices now run Yorubaland’s affairs across the board, from Yoruba water to Yoruba Theatre.  

This is a democratic deficit which runs contrary to Nigeria’s first independent constitution which established parliamentary democracy based on distinct political identity and system. It is affecting relations with the rest of a Federal Republic of Nigeria in which most Yoruba wish to remain, and hampering Yorubaland’s ability to make its voice heard in the world, particularly within a fast-developing African Union well attuned to such voices. Redressing the deficit is a matter of fairness and justice, and also of better government. A Yoruba Regional Government is the means of taking back control without turning our backs on our neighbours; of determining our own strategies; of facing the challenges of a new age in our own way.

A Yoruba Regional Government will be able to make a real difference to the prosperity of the Yoruba people, and to the quality of the life they lead. No modern economy can be viewed in isolation from the others with which it is entwined by ties of trade and ownership – one reason why Yorubaland needs to remain within the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is by far its biggest marketplace. But the Yoruba economy can be differentiated from those of other parts of Nigeria, both in its strengths and in its weaknesses.

Yorubaland has a relatively large export trade, for example, but one heavily dependent on a very narrow export base: chiefly human resources and cocoa. It has a prestigious and successful financial sector, but again skewed towards certain types of services. It has a long-standing difficulty in creating new growth companies and lasting jobs since the suspension of federalism based on Regional Government. It has to contend with the communications challenges inherent in a population distributed unevenly across a large land mass. Nigeria economic policy has, hardly surprisingly, failed to address these circumstances closely, systematically or effectively. Yorubaland’s Regional Government, equipped with the sort of power described in the Independent Nigeria’s first constitution and 1963/64 amendments, will be able to do much better.

Much the same applies to the field of social welfare – a broad phrase, but the one that best describes the wide range of concerns which have so sharply distinguished the political will of Yorubaland in recent years. Yorubaland has consistently declared through the ballot box the wish for Fiscal Federalism to public policy which accords more closely with its collective and community traditions. The frustration which has arisen as that wish is disregarded should be a source of concern to all who hold democracy dear. Yoruba’s Regional Government will provide the means for the will of the people of Yorubaland; however it may develop, to be acted upon. It will place power in their hands to determine the future course of Yorubas law and the administration of justice; to decide on the form and the delivery of public services like health, education and housing provision; to boost the development of Yorubaland’s cultural and artistic life. These are matters that touch the lives of us all.

Democracy is a challenge as well as a right and a privilege. It bestows a culture of involvement, and therefore of responsibility. It does not allow blame to be shrugged off on others. The contrast with present public alienation from the processes and structures of government is both compelling and invigorating. There is every reason to expect that the people of Yorubaland, taking charge of their own destiny, will tackle the issues that confront them more effectively than has Abuja, acting remotely in their stead. There is every reason to believe that Yorubaland is more equal to the challenge.

Please support the call for True Federalism, and Fiscal Federalism in Nigeria. 

THE RISE OF YORUBA PRIDE

The rise of Yoruba pride is tangible in everyday conversation, on the doorstep, and in the growing social media. Musicians and writers are exploring Yoruba issue more explicitly than has been the case for years. Politicians who have long expressed us as ‘Nigerians first’, no longer feel quite so eccentric. More happily, the Afenifere, OPC and others have made Yoruba national pride a source of joy.

What’s interesting is not that Yoruba identity has risen but why. We all carry identities and loyalties to communities, ethnicities, teams, the nation, or communities around the world. But it is only at certain times that we find one identity a powerful way of describing ourselves and our collective interests. It’s at these times people turn to old identities and refresh them so they serve us in our modern world.

National identities usually strengthen when people feel hard done by. Today’s Yoruba identity reflects a growing sense that Yoruba people lack a real voice on the things that matter to them, as demand for Sovereign National Conference by Yoruba people shows clearly. Worse, they feel they are losing out and being treated less fairly in a multiethnic country.

The perception that unitary system unfairly favours Hausa/Fulani and Kanuri people is only part of the picture. North (or rather, Northerners) are thought to have more say than we do with the ways and manners past military head of states from the North have structured the system with more states, local governments, senators and House of Representative members. It’s no surprise that strongest expressions of Yorubaness are in those working class states where profound economic change has compounded by the impact of large-scale migration.

Yoruba identity is rising in reaction to a real sense of powerlessness, insecurity and unfair political structure in a rapidly changing world.

But our modern Yoruba identity is far from settled. For some, it is ethnic: an Oduduwa community with an imagined 2,000 years of common history. Many others are at ease with an inclusive Yorubaness. Most seem comfortable with both their Yoruba and their Nigerian identities, a fact PDP, Yoruba members should not lightly set aside, for that’s their meal tickets.

We cannot however, spend our time doing studies of Yorubaness while others are out there making it. For us, developing and celebrating a national identity is an active exercise. We don’t find our true identity in ever-deeper historical research, but want to make it ourselves. We should draw on radical traditions, but we must blend them with the histories of everyone who wants to feel Yoruba, and who recognises that a common identity is best developed through shared experience.

The political response to the new Yorubaness is a debate that has hardly begun. It’s no coincidence that Action Congress of Nigeria talks openly about True Federalism, Fiscal Federalism, Resource Control, State Police, Regional Regimental Armed Forces and Sovereign National Conference – which have nothing to say about the future Yorubaland and its people should enjoy, nor about Yorubaland’s place within the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but which might just favour the Yoruba party ACN that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu leads.

I think we can do better.

The ACN has the best chance of success if we can tell most compelling story about what it could mean being Yoruba in the future. The desire to be heard, to be treated fairly and to have security and opportunity is driving the new Yorubaness. Empowering people, creating security and tackling unfairness have always been the causes of the Yorubas. This is a huge opportunity for us.

The case for progressive politics means very little as an abstract argument about values or specifics policies. It only takes root and comes to life if it’s grounded in a story about how people with a common identity understand their history and their future. So the challenge is to tell a convincing story about what the future could hold for the people of Yorubaland. To me, that’s a story of the Yoruba people within a strong Nigeria or outside of it, not as a state adrift or one with only formal and limited connections.

Contrary to the PDP leaders’ claim, it is not easier to envisage a progressive future for all the nations of Nigeria under a unitary system, an economy that has faltered since the suspension of Regional Government in 1966, cannot now pay its way in the world, and be a strong voice in Africa, under such a sham political structure.

The PDP case is weakened by an idea that Nigeria cannot break up. There is no winning an argument that relies on inter-marriages and the colour of the skin. A political dependence on the wealth and resources from Niger Delta’s oil; Yoruba’s VAT, Income and Corporation taxes, hinders rather than helps Yoruba PDP’s responsibility to understand how we win a Yoruba Autonomy.

We will only win the case for a progressive Yorubaland with progressive Nigeria if ACN’s response to the question of Yorubaness is wholehearted and rounded. ACN needs to bring a Yoruba dimension to our cultural, economic, political and democratic policies.

We should acknowledge our own Yoruba identity. We should talk of the Yoruba Free Healthcare or Yoruba Railway Network, when that is what we mean. We should support the local authorities and working with others to promote a modern inclusive vision of Yorubaness.

For all their simplicity, neither ‘Yoruba votes on Yoruba laws’ nor a Yoruba parliament would make much difference to the influence Yoruba voters feel they enjoy, because the real problem is the centralisation of the Nigeria state. And it’s because Nigeria is so centralised – because we think Aso-Rock and the National Assembly have the moral right to run Yorubaland –that the demand for Sovereign National Conference has such resonance.

Yorubas are sceptical about dressing up their local community as a voice for the Yoruba Autonomy. They can spot the difference between form and content, as they observed when Obasanjo came in 1999 promising on setting up a regional government and assembly but deceitful. Their experience of regional government’s decline over 40 years doesn’t encourage them to expect powerful responsive decision-making close to homeland.

But that could change. There is a strong case that the challenges of health, housing, policing, transport and planning, education, and economy pose such different challenges in different parts of the country that centralised decision-making cannot adequately respond. Yorubaland’s future story could be one in which the Yoruba have far more say on many more things, much closer to homeland. It would draw on deep roots of our Yoruba history and reflect the modern development of our city regions, and go way beyond the fragmentation and contradictions of the PDP ‘unitarism’.

I have no illusions that the more ACN acknowledges a Yoruba dimension, the more Yoruba people will expect some form of Yoruba decision-making. The simplest solution, which requires the least change to the demand for Yoruba Autonomy, will be to let the elected Yoruba members of the National Assembly, demand for Yoruba’s referendum to secede from Nigeria. Whether that will be the resting point or whether further change is needed, only time will tell.

That then is the choice. To stand by and watch Yorubaness emerge without engaging with either its national expression or the underlying concerns that drive it. Or to engage, to help shape a modern Yoruba identity which tells a progressive story about the future of our nation – our Oduduwa’s Republic – and which gives us the voice, the power, the security and fair treatment that all too often we feel we are denied.