Constitutional Review: ODA Demands Creation of Okun State, Convocation of SNC

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Yoruba people in Kogi State have called for the creation of Okun State and relocation from the North-Central geopolitical zone to the South-West.

In a memorandum submitted to the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, a copy of which was sent to Kogi Reports, on Saturday, the Okun ethnic nationality under the aegis of Okun Development Association (ODA) also called for convocation of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) to restructure Nigeria into a just and safe country for all its citizens.

The memorandum signed by Ambassador Paul Fadumiyo on behalf of ODA’s President General, Mr Femi Mokikan, asserted that Okun land has all it takes to be a viable state.

“The Okun People of Kogi State were direct victims of the activities of
European traders which culminated in Sir Fredrick Lugard expropriating part of our territory to the Northern Protectorate in 1900 and other parts of the territory to the colonial Governor of Southern Protectorate in 1918. This was without consideration for the common ancestral origins, economic
interdependence, cosmology and cultural values shared with the people of
South Western part of the Southern Protectorate.

“Unfortunately, all postcolonial Nigerian governments have been unable to redress this tragic dislocation. Rather, our rate of progress or development has been further retarded even within the current North Central Geopolitical Zone.

“Our persistent calls for self-determination to decide which political sociocultural entity we desire to relate with in Nigeria’s political power equation has hitherto, been unheeded.

“In Kogi State, we are domiciled in Yagba West, Yagba East, MopAmuro,
Ijumu, Kabba/Bunu, and Lokoja Local Government Areas. Out of these six (6) Local Government Areas, five (5) of them are 100 percent peopled by the
Okun, while the Oworo-Okun own and live in more than three quarters of
Lokoja Local Government Area. Out of a population of a little over three
million people in Kogi State, The Okun Yoruba approximately number about 800,000.

“By the time the Northern Protectorate was proclaimed in 1900, Kabba
Province, as an administrative unit, spread as far as Owo and Ikare Divisions in present day Ondo state and Ikole in present day Ekiti State. However, while the three other Divisions were adjusted back to the Southern Protectorate, Okunland, which has the same characteristics as Owo, Ikare and Ikole was curiously retained in the Northern Protectorate. It was this process which severed the Okun people from their kith and kin, the Yoruba of the South West.

“Thus between 1900 and 1967, Okunland was politically and administratively merged with people with whom they had no cultural affinity and controlled by the Northern Regional Government, with its administrative headquarters in Kaduna. This created a MINORITY STATUS for Okunland from which they have suffered political and developmental setback till today.

“On May 27, 1967, the military government created twelve (12) states,
including West Central (later Kwara) State, which included Okunland.
On August 27, 1991, what remained of the former Kabba Province was
excised from Kwara State and merged with the Igala Division (which had
gone to Benue State in 1975) to form the new Kogi State. In short, Okun
Yoruba People have never been allowed to have a say about their preferred
geo-political location.

“From the days of the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria, through the
amalgamation of the two Protectorates and the Colony of Lagos in 1914, to
the creation of regions by the Richards Constitution in 1946 through the
creation of states, first in 1967 and subsequently the creation of Kogi State in 1991, the Okun People were never asked where they wanted to be. They
found themselves where others placed them by fiat.

“In short, our right to self determination, as enshrined in the United Nation’s Atlantic Character on Human and People’s Rights, has never been respected.

“Arising from the foregoing, we, the Okun Yoruba of Kogi State invoke the
relevant Charters of the United Nations, the African Union and the West
African Economic Community, to demand that we be allowed to determine
how we want to be governed, who we want to associate with and where we
want to be. We invoke our God given rights to choose whether we want to be in the North Central Zone or any other Zone. The historical alienation that Okun People have suffered, which we have enunciated in this Memorandum makes our choice very clear.

“A slave that never agitates to go back to his father’s house is a slave indeed and will remain so for ever. Though we have lived on our father’s land, this land has been expropriated by strangers since.

“We demand, that the ancestral land where Okun Yoruba live, be
returned to rejoin its rightful owner, the Yoruba of South West Nigeria.”

Okun Development Association (ODA) demanded that a Sovereign National Conference be convened to address the critical issues that concern Okunland and other nationalities in Nigeria as presently constituted.

“Okun People observe that too much of the nation’s resources and governmental responsibilities are concentrated in the central (Federal) government, so much so, that the federating units cannot meaningfully exploit the physical, economic and human resources in their environment for the development of their territory and for the wellbeing of their people.

“Indeed, from 1966 to date Nigeria has been a Federal Republic in name only.

“Security of lives and property has become highly compromised because the apparatus of institutional control resides with the central government- thus making crime detection, prevention and justice ineffective. The inability of the Federal Government to guarantee the security of life and property of every segment in the country has become glaring as some groups kill and pillage at will while the Federal Government is unable or unwilling to stop them.

“The official cost of running government is too high in the current presidential system, breeding endemic corruption which has, in turn, inhibited the ability to run government effectively and efficiently.

“The Okun Development Association (ODA) advocates that a Sovereign National Conference be convened to address the critical issues that concern Okunland and other nationalities in Nigeria as presently constituted.”

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