Neither Speakership nor Chairmanship, Just a Yoruba Nation

by Anthony A. Kila

In a country wherein elites are obsessed with political zoning and power sharing, it is natural and even understandable to see politicians and pundits engrossed in discussions and analysis about how the Yoruba nation (insipidly and annoyingly called South-West in Nigeria) was treated in the recently concluded power sharing arrangement process. Geographically, occupation of the offices considered the seven most important positions look like this:

South-South: President
North-West: Vice President; Speaker House of Representatives
North-Central: Senate President
South-East: Deputy Senate President; Deputy Speaker Federal House of Representative; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
South-West and North-East: 0.

Most people view such distribution of power as unfair to those excluded, particularly the Yoruba nation, many are advocating for and are indeed expecting some sort of redress. To those that worry, the above description will even be more worrisome if we include the office of the chief Justice of the Federation. One of the most discussed possibilities is to allow the Yoruba Nation to produce the next national Chairman or Secretary of the PDP. To make their point, some well-known political gladiators are even using pedestrian terms like compensation for the Yoruba people.

For the records and without mincing words, let us state clearly that not all of us buy into this idea. Many of us are strongly of the opinion that what the Yoruba people need is neither Speakership nor Chairmanship, but just a nation that works. For some of us, the quest for top national positions is at best redundant and at worse counterproductive. The two most recent speakers have two things in common: they were both of Yoruba origin and they both ended up indicted. By the way, they were accused of illicitly lining up their own pockets, not for favoring or helping their nation. Yoruba people on the other hand, share one thing in common from that experience: their Nation gained nothing from having their son and daughter in position of power in the Federal Nigeria.

Since in politics, every action and process has its own value and consequence, we cannot but pause to reflect on the ignorance and lack of respect being displayed by those, who genuinely filled with good intentions and seemingly guided by a commonsense approach, are now advocating for the PDP to give the office of its national chairman or secretary to a Yoruba person as a means of compensating the region for losing out in the sharing of the most important institutional offices of Nigeria. By making such request and suggestions they show they do not understand that national institutional offices are no in shape or form comparable to partisan positions and offices. They show that they do not understand that the loyalty of a person elected or selected into a national institutional office is to the country as a whole, regardless of people’s geographic, ethnographic extraction or political affiliation and must be and be seen to be impartial to and capable of representing all. They show that they are oblivious to the fact that a party chairman or secretary is and has the right to be loyal only to his party interests. In fact, his or her ultimate duty is to make sure the party dominates others. In confusing these two things, Nigerian politicians and even pundits show big disrespect for their country’s institutional fabric.

As for the Yoruba people, no compensation is needed. They did not lose any real and visible benefit that needs to be made up for. We shall not be deceived, those clamouring for positions are the few ones to benefit from it, and if lucky, their family and friends too might gain something from having a pal in power. By the way, theirs is a legitimate quest and we bear them no grudge for wanting power or wanting to be first amongst their peers. All we are saying is a simple do not do it in your people’s name. Yoruba people have no psychological deficit to be compensated for through having one of their own in an office, they, the people did not vote for.

What the people need is good education, good health care (preferably free), massive infrastructural development, and an environment that allows trade and industry to flourish all in a vibrant intellectual environment. Producing a national speaker or national party chairman has not and cannot meet any of those needs so let us not waste time on it. There are those that argue that if a region of Nigeria does not have one of its own son or daughter at the top federal tables where decisions are made then such region will lose out. That reasoning is wrong. History has shown that regions that have always had someone in power have little to show for their presence there.

These obvious exclusions from top national positions is not a problem; rather, it is a historical opportunity for Yoruba leaders, if worthy of those they lead, to show the world what a region can do within a Federal structure and without national power. Self-reliance, interstate and regional collaboration, accountability should be their key words.

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