The people of Oyo State are not giving up on their demands for additional states and rotation of the governorship seat. This much formed the crux of deliberation at different public sittings on the review of the 1999 Constitution held by members of the House of Representatives in the various constituency areas of the state. Tunde Sanni gives an insight into some of their agitations
For a long time to come, the people of certain federal constituencies in Oyo State will continue to relish the public debate on the review of the 1999 Constitution brought to their doorsteps by their representatives in the House of Representatives.
In Oyo, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, underscored the need for the contributions of the people in the making of a new constitution. “In years past, constitution making has been the exclusive of some elite in the name of Constituent Assembly, but now that they have called for our input, we are happy for them and we commend them for this bold initiative. Here in Oyo kingdom, we will maximise the public sitting and seek a guarantee that such views would be harmonised.”
The monarch spoke at the public sitting of the Oyo federal constituency where the people re-affirmed their commitment to the creation of new Oyo State, from the present Oyo State, with the capital in Oyo town. The gathering was coordinated by Kamil Akinlabi, representing Afijio/Atiba/Oyo-East/Oyo-West Federal Constituency.
Oba Adeyemi who led his people under 151 various associations and groups to the gathering recalled that the prime position Oyo town occupies in the country has historically conferred on it, the ability to be a state capital.
Akinlabi, the chief host, who took copies of memoranda from the various speakers for onward transmission to Abuja, told the gathering that Oba Adeyemi had on two different occasions visited the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja on this issue of creation of new Oyo State.
The lawmaker commended the Metropolitan Development Association (MDA) and New Oyo State Forum (NOSFOM), the two bodies that had been coordinating the struggle for the state creation, noted that the average age of the members was 70 years and that it should be a challenge to the younger generation.
Giving the reasons why the new Oyo State should be created and the capital sited in Oyo, Olu Olaoye, said Oyo town had since 1914 and until 1959 remained the headquarters of an empire spanning thousands of kilometres in radius. In addition, the ancient town was said to have all the necessary infrastructure for the take-off of a new state without any problem whatsoever, noting, “the kind of economy Nigeria runs now cannot accommodate a ‘virgin land’ being made a state capital”
At the Irepo/Olorunsogo/Oorelope public sitting coordinated by Hon. Hafees Jimoh, the constituents reiterated the need for the creation of Oke Ogun State and voted resoundingly in support of true federalism; strong local government system and abolition of state-local government joint account, among others.
Speaking at the public hearing, notable indigenes of the constituency such as the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Dibu Ojerinde; chairman of Oke Ogun Development Council, Professor J.D. Dada; traditional rulers from Kisi, Igbeti and Igboho communities; leaders of community unions and professional bodies espoused the need for the creation of more states. They said it had become imperative to create Oke Ogun State to take care of the people of the area who have continued to be marginalised in the state.
The lawmaker noted that the House, given its pro-democracy credentials felt that the voices of the people mattered in giving them a truly people’s constitution, hence the public hearing across the country. He praised the massive turn out of his constituents, saying it was an indication that the people were prepared to have a constitution that would serve them. He noted that the turnout had made the clamour for Sovereign National Conference unnecessary.
While passing their votes on each of the 43 proposed amendments, the people rejected rotational presidency; single term of office for president and governor; the recognition of the geo-political zones in the constitution and the allocation of constitutional roles to traditional roles, among others, while they supported the rotation of governorship slot among three senatorial districts in a state.
While making their submissions after the voting, some of the constituents urged the National Assembly to allow their voices in the eventual amendment, as they noted that the ‘military constitution’ which the country is operating has brought no good to the country.
In Lagelu/Akinyele federal constituency, the representative of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Samuel Odulana, remarked that Ibadans are not regretting voting Abiola Ajimobi as the governor of the state in 2011. The monarch who spoke through the Ekaarun Olubadan of Ibadanland, Chief Eddy Oyewole, said he remained unperturbed on his decision to support Ajimobi at the poll. He said the Olubadan-in-Council carefully studied the aspirants to the post and their antecedents, adding that after careful observation, it resolved to support the ambition of Ajimobi.
Apparently, the monarch was responding to comments of former governor of the state, Senator Rasidi Ladoja, at a local radio station that the Olubadan in Council never supported his candidacy for the poll.
The traditional ruler said the rot which Ajimobi met on the ground in the state was a lot and added that the reform being embarked upon by his administration, though currently biting hard on the people, was necessary.
“The Olubadan-in-Council, after carefully observing all the aspirants for the post of Oyo State governor, concluded that Ajimobi, who is our son, remains the most qualified, given his antecedent. We did not regret supporting Ajimobi to become the governor of Oyo State,” the traditional ruler said.
Still in Ibadan, the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), an umbrella body of all Ibadan indigenes, has disagreed with the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, on the possibility of creating additional states from the present 36 states in the federation.
Ekweremadu at a function recently had expressed doubt over the possibility of additional states due to the non-viability of the existing ones.
Spokesman of the Ibadan group, Prince Oluwayemisi Adeaga, who spoke with newsmen preparatory to Ibadan week festival celebrations stated that the position of Ekweremadu would not stop their agitation for Ibadan state which he said is long overdue. “If you want something in life, you go all out for it, especially when you know there is the possibility you will get your desire met,” he said, adding that they would continue to clamour for it.