Those voters expressed their wishes in a legal and sophisticated
manner, so their leaders too, if worthy of leading such people, must
execute the expressed wishes in a legal and sophisticated way and
therein lies the challenge. They need to, within the respect of the
laws and within the borders of a federal Nigeria, form a Yoruba nation
that I recommend should be cosmopolitan and progressive.
For those who wonder what is a nation? Let us reply with Renan and
explain that a nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things,
which in truth are but one constitutes this soul or spiritual
principle. One lies in the past, one in the present. One is the
possession in common of a rich legacy of memories; the other is
present-day consent, the desire to live together, the will to
perpetuate the value of the heritage that one has received in an
undivided form. A nationís existence is a daily plebiscite.
It is not the first time that the people in the various states that
make up the Yoruba region (the official term they use in Nigeria is
insipidly South-West) will express their desire by voting in unison.
They did it by voting the Action Group (AG), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN),
Alliance for Democracy (AD) and now the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Let us make no mistake about it. The common thread in this voting
pattern has being and continue to be progressive ideas and programmes
according to the preaching and practice of the late Chief Obafemi
Awolowo. Like their parents did in the days of the late Awo, todayís
voters have chosen to find their path independent of the central
government of Nigeria.
The political aspiration of the voters of the Yoruba region is to have
a state that provides free education, free health care, massive
infrastructural development, and an environment that allows trade and
industry to flourish all in a vibrant intellectual milieu yet capable
of partying. They are after all the masters of owanbe. These
aspirations should form the paradigm upon which the elected governors
and legislators of the Yoruba regions should build their policies and
programmes. They should aspire to these ideals when thinking of the
ideal government for their voters.
In theory, each of the states in the Yoruba region can legitimately
set about achieving these aims individually and they might even do
well. But imagine how much more they will achieve if they decide to
act as a collective. Imagine the possibilities for all, if these
governors and lawmakers can think like their voters and genuinely
follow those ideals, if they can develop an organic ethos of a nation
and consequently decide to work together to tackle the problems they
cannot handle alone. Imagine what we will get if the states of Lagos,
Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Edo, and even Ondo come together, without
waiting for the Federal Government, to jointly plan, fund and
supervise regional libraries, roads, hospitals, banks, research
centres and agricultural projects. Even the power supply problem can
have a regional solution.
The great benefits that such actions will bring to those that reside
in these states are obvious but it will not be limited to them. As
history has shown, like in the case of the Eastern Region of Michael
Okpara and the Western Region of Obafemi Awolowo, there are good
chances that a cooperative and dynamic Yoruba nation will trigger a
healthy rivalry between her and other Nigerian regions. It will be a
rivalry that will greatly benefit the residents of those other regions
as their own leaders will have to provide similar services and
ventures to match what their neighbours are doing. The federal
republic of Nigeria itself will get the opportunity to become truly
federal as emphasis will shift from the central and if broadminded the
FGN will encourage these regional governments and ventures.
Politically, leaders and voters of the ACN will in the next four years
have the duty of making sure that their elected officials turn their
progressive aspirations into achievements. In that period, they will
have to deal with problems of personal ego, self-serving groups and
personalities, bureaucratic hurdles and outright sabotage. If they can
overcome all that and maybe much more, their next task will be to
decide how to move forward.
They will have to decide how they want to use the capital they now
have. Two options come to mind: they can move forward by identifying
and working with political groups that share their policies and ideals
or they can try to be a Nigerian party by trying to make inroads into
other parts of the federation.