Will the generality of the Yoruba accept the argument of the pro-Jonathan post conference summit that, of the two leading presidential candidates, General Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan, the latter is most likely to implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference hence, he should be supported by the region in the coming election? As the president’s men intensify their efforts to woo voters in Yorubaland, OLAOLU BILAU writes on the fresh “carrot” being dangled to the people of the region…
With the convening of the post National Conference Summit in Ibadan by Governor Olusegun Mimiko last Thursday, the section of the Yoruba Nation sympathetic to the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan may have found the right formula and unique selling point (USP) to brighten the electoral chances of the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate in the South-west.
Leader of the Yoruba caucus at the National Conference and National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Olu Falae, who was at the Ibadan Summit said, what was paramount was the interest of the Yoruba and according to him, “Our interest is to get out of the political and economic jail we have been since 1960,” he said.
Advancing his argument further, Falae added: “Since it was President Jonathan who set up the conference and he had publicly said that he will implement it to the letter if he wins, I would rather go with such a man than the person who opposed the conference and who denounced its report, in politics, it is a matter of interest”.
The Yoruba had for a long time been at the forefront of the agitation for the restructuring of the country in line with the principle of true federalism that would allow for the proper devolution of powers between the central government and the states.
Therefore, with the new draft constitution said to have incorporated the recommendations of the 2014 conference which if implemented would give states the freedom to have their own state and community police, state constitution, opportunity to develop seaports, build rail lines, explore mineral resources in their territory and above all grant the states autonomy, the lure by the pro-Jonathan elements in the South-west couldn’t be more tempting for the Yoruba.
The Yoruba seemed to be close to the realization of their long-held dream of political and economic autonomy if the president is returned to power and implements the recommendation and the pro-Jonathan ideological bloc has already thrown its cap into the ring and ready to take a chance on the president.
But the question that may be agitating the minds of close watchers of events in the country and the region is whether President Jonathan can be trusted to deliver on that promise if he wins re-election.
Chairman of the Ibadan Summit and chieftain of the Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said the fact that the president agreed to convene the conference is the first sign that he would implement the recommendations of the Confab report. According to him, Jonathan was not the first Nigerian leader who was approached on the issue of a National Conference, but he was the first to agree to convene it.
With prominent Yoruba elders, including General Adeyinka Adebayo, Chief Olu Falae, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Ayo Adebanjo, Senator Femi Okurounmu, Chief Richard Akinjide, Dr. Fredrick Faseun, Prof. Modupe Olatunbosun, Alhaji Yekini Adeojo, Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun and others on the side of the re-election of President Jonathan set against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande, Ayo Opadokun, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Niyi Adebayo, on the other side for General Muhammadu Buhari, it remained to be seen who the majority of the people of the region would follow.