Afenifere to FG: Revert to 1963 Constitution, declare bandits as terrorists

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.Advocacy for terrorists culpable

Uba Group

BY AKINWALE ABOLUWADE, IBADAN

Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, has advised the Federal Government to consider the readoption of the 1963 Republican Constitution, noting that the problems currently besetting the country are attributable to the 1999 Constitution midwifed by the military and foisted on the citizens in the interest of one ethnic group.

Afenifere spoke in a Communique signed by Jare Ajayi, its National Publicity Secretary, and made available to journalists at the end of its meeting held at the residence of its Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, on Tuesday.

Condemning Gumi’s call for pardon for bandits, and raising concerns on the uncertain state of the nation, the leading Yoruba group was quoted in the communique as saying that the meeting of ethnic nationalities and related stakeholders should be conveyed otherwise, the country should go back to the 1963 Constitution abrogated by the military.

The communique read, “As is customary with us, our meeting deliberated on various issues concerning the Nigeria nation, particularly in the ways that they affect the Yorubas. Specifically, the meeting deliberated on social, political, security and economic situations of the country. The meeting observed that the country is going through a lot of trauma.

“Afenifere discussed the issue of restructuring and the 2023 elections. The meeting also deliberated on the consistent advocacy by Dr Ahmed Gumi on the government to pardon terrorists and to even compensate them in various ways.

“Afenifere comprehensively considered the current political trajectory of the country. The meeting was in no doubt that most of the problems bedevilling Nigeria would not have arisen if the original Constitution agreed upon by our founding fathers had not been jettisoned.

“Afenifere recalled that during the struggle for independence, the mantra of ‘One Nigeria’ was being sang, Chief Obafemi Awolowo insisted that federalism was the only system of government that could sustain Nigeria as a country. The federal Constitution enabled Nigeria to progress very well until the military scuttled the republican federal Constitution in 1966. We have been consistent in opposing military midwifed Constitution.

“Afenifere, through Alliance for Democracy, participated in the 1999 elections, not because we believed in that Constitution but to let the South-West stand politically in Nigeria. That was why we advocated for Sovereign National Conference. Although, the past administration of Dr Jonathan Goodluck did a National Conference rather than the SNC that we advocated, it is on record that the report of the said Confab was never implemented.

“This is why we have consistently been calling for a renegotiation of the basis of our staying together as a country. The country should go back to the 1963 Constitution that was abrogated by the military. In the alternative, the meeting of ethnic nationalities and related stakeholders should be conveyed. Such a meeting would provide an opportunity for all of us to redefine the basis of staying together.
We are still very much convinced that it is in either of the two propositions that solutions to numerous problems afflicting Nigeria lie.

“Afenifere has been consistent in its call for a replacement of the present Constitution and in restructuring. In other words, we are consistent – and now still insisting – that restructuring that berths true federalism must take place before the 2023 elections.
We recall that many issues that Afenifere initiated could be unpopular at the beginning. For insisting on true federalism, we were dubbed as Separatists. But we are not perturbed. For, we were usually vindicated at the end of the day whenever we take a principled position.

“We have no doubt that no matter the party that takes over in 2023, the problems of Nigeria will remain, if not aggravated, if the present Constitution is not changed to devolve power with true federalism entrenched.”

“Afenifere believes in the unity of Nigeria but not at the expense of Yoruba interest. To us, ‘charity begins at home’ means so much to us. The insecurity problems in the country kept festering. Those who have been kidnapping and killing the people (should) be declared as terrorists and be treated as such. It is unfortunate that attitude of the authority on the issue of security in the country has not succeeded in stemming the increasing spate of insecurity.

“On the contrary, bandits and terrorists kept getting emboldened to perpetrate their nefarious activities. It is ironical that some individuals could be seeking clemency for terrorists who are maiming and killing the people without any thoughts for the victims. It goes without saying that whoever deodorizes or abets evil is culpable.”

It urged every community to be at alert with a view to ensuring that terrorists do not take over, while also harping on the importance of restructuring and the 2023 elections.

Among those in attendance at the meeting in which all states in Yorubaland were represented, with representatives from Kwara and Kogi states, were the Deputy Leader of the group, Oba Oladipo Olaitan; the Assistant Secretary General, Leke Mabinuori; Chief Cornelius Adebayo, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Chief Supo Sonibare, Abagun Kole Omololu, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Senator Gbenga Kaka, Chief Dayo Duyile, Dr Yomi Atte, and Prof. Opeyemi Agbaje.