Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Adeniyi Akintola and other stakeholders, including students, academic, socio-cultural groups, traditional rulers, policy makers and government functionaries from South West geo-political zone on Friday renewed the agitation for restructuring of the country in the interest of development.
They made this call at the maiden Biennial Dipo Famakinwa Colloquium organised by Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, Yoruba Academy and Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) held at the House of Chiefs, Secretariat Ibadan, under the theme, “Restructuring: Ending the talk and starting the walk.”
Ajimobi who spoke through the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Adeniyi Olowofela declared that restructuring within the context of a united federation of Nigeria and democratic processes should be built around such fundamental values as sovereignty of the people.
He added that restructuring of Nigeria was necessary in order to ensure, “Respect for human rights, equal political, social and economic opportunities for all citizens, equity, justice and fair play as ethical values of politics and national unity as well as transparency and accountability as the basis of governance”.
He described late Famakinwa’s contribution to the strategic and tactical rethink of Western Nigeria as instructive and pivotal, noting that paying tribute to and sustaining the memory and good work of such individual is fundamentally apt.
Ajimobi said, “These values are non-negotiable and form the bedrock of nation-building. For these values to be given expression in the Nigerian nation, the structural defects and deficiencies of the construct of the nation must be addressed as expressed by popular consensus of the people through:
“Renegotiation of Nigerian Federal nation; organizing for regional actions; mobilization of regional endowments and assets; optimizing the space for development through the regions to achieving sustainable growth in Nigeria; fiscal federalism and decentralization of Nigeria.
“Most Yoruba people want a Nigeria that operates as a properly managed modern country, a land of order, law, freedom, justice, progress, science, technology, opportunity, competitiveness, productivity and prosperity- the kind of country that all Yoruba people desire and want”.
Akintola in his own explanation lamented that if Nigeria is not restructured, the present federal structure cannot sustain the county for another 25 years.
He said, “For those that still believe so much in the corporate existence of Nigeria, we should know that the present structure cannot sustain this country for another 25 years. It is totally impossible. The world is already becoming a neighbourhood and its no more a global village.
“Nigeria is the only federation in the world with unitary police, even the State of Britain that is unitary in form has many formations and organisations. In the United States, as at the last count, they have more than 78,000 police formations, including universities. Each higher institution in the United States has police formation, recognised by the state.
“Restructuring is the mantra of an average south westerner. I know that the present structure cannot sustain the county for another 25years. We need to give the DAWN commission every support. When late Bola Ige was advocating for integration, we never knew the country would ever be in this state. He who wants peace must be ready for war. We will not take another neo-colonialism from anybody. This country will not move forward unless we restructure.
“The Nigerian governance structure is oppressive. The only language understood by the oppressor is confrontation. Therefore, to achieve restructuring, we must be ready for appropriate confrontation. A structured way to achieve restructuring agenda is by strengthening regional integration. Southwest state governors should give greater support to DAWN Commission.”
Other speakers at the event noted that the region has been unfairly shortchanged with a structure that allows other regions to hold it back in terms of speed of development and progress before the military interregnum.
Director General, DAWN Commission, Mr. Seye Oyeleye in his remarks noted that the event was to celebrate the late Famakinwa’s devoted energy in the last 7-8 years to what is today known as DAWN commission.
He said the effort which he described as an all-inclusive was to take the subject of restructuring from mere talks to acting in a way that all the stakeholders will be able to express their views and understand what it means.
Widow of late DG, Mrs. Ibironke Famakinwa appreciated the DAWN Commission for honouring her husband.
Famakinwa while speaking further urged the organisers to sustain the fight until the integration and unity of the region is achieved in the interest of the present and future generation.
Dignitaries at the event include, General Secretary, Afenifere Renewal Group, Chief Ayo Afolabi, Dr. Bolaji Ogunseye, Rtd Major Gen Sam Odunsi, Dr. Charles Akindiji Akinola, Alh. Lai Oyeduntan, Mr Tokunbo Ajasin and Dupe Ajayi Gbadebo.
Others are, Mrs. Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, Mrs Yemi Alabi, Mrs. Adeyinka Bello and Baale of Makoko Barr. Adekunle Olaiya.
The biennial event according to the organizers seeks to immortalise Famakinwa’s vision and ideas on the development and adoption of a common regional agenda.
The late Famakinwa was the pioneer Director- General of DAWN Commission until his death on April 21st, 2017, after serving the commission for four years.