This is a letter from the heart to the rulers, leaders, peoples and citizens of Nigeria, from OODUA FOUNDATION, a Yoruba think-tank organization with members in all parts of the world. We write this letter to Nigeria, the country of our birth, from the depth of our love and hopes, and from our accumulated knowledge and experiences in the countries in which we reside across the face of the earth. Our country, Nigeria, can become a major factor in the world. It has the material and human resources for a very significant role in the affairs of our continent and of our world. Most of the countries in which we live in the wide world are not as richly endowed as our own country, and yet most of them have much comfort and beauty to dispense, occupy important positions in the economic and political life of the world, and are respected by other countries and by the general international community.
In contrast, our own country, Nigeria, is little regarded in most parts of the world. In many parts of the world, where many of us have attained prominence and influence as a result of our high education, high qualifications, and qualitative contributions to society, we live in almost constant shame and anxiety from the fact that the news from our own country are almost perpetually of growing decay, growing poverty, unspeakable human suffering, deep-rooted and inscrutable corruption, fearful lack of security, horrific blood-letting conflicts, frequent acts of genocide, religious extremism and terrorism, and constant probability of sudden collapse. Quite often, each of us and our children confront situations in which we are painfully compelled to hesitate to say that we are Nigerians.
We write this letter to our country in the belief that we Nigerians can change these trends in our country’s life. We write it in the hope that this cry from us from all over the world will move our countrymen, and our country’s rulers and leaders, to stop and consider, and resolve, individually and collectively, to change the direction of our country’s path. We in Oodua Foundation are all products of the Yoruba nation. Our parents have, since the beginning of the making of a Nigerian federation in about 1950, contributed with all sincerity and dedication, and made outstanding inputs into all worthy areas of Nigeria’s development. Among other things, they laid the foundations of the influence that we their descendants now command in the world. We are proud of the contributions that our Yoruba nation continues to make today in the various spheres of Nigeria’s life.
We and the whole world know from the facts of our history that our Yoruba nation, and other Nigerian nationalities, lives in undeserved poverty and confusion in Nigeria today – all because of the relentless intensification of corruption in the political and economic management of Nigeria’s affairs since independence in 1960. We the Yoruba nation, and other nationalities of Nigeria, command the cultural assets with which we could easily prosper in today’s world, but being part of Nigeria stultifies and represses the triumph of such assets.
We endorse and support, and strongly commit ourselves to, the contributions being made by our Yoruba nation and our Yorubanation’s leaders at home today towards worthwhile changes in Nigeria, and towards a redirection of the trajectory of Nigeria’s history. After very careful consultations, a delegation of our Yoruba leaders is now in Abuja for the National Conference convened by the President of Nigeria. The hope of our Yoruba nation is that the National Conference will produce outcomes that will lead to a new and rational Nigerian federation, reasonably empower every federating unit of the Nigerian federation to thrive in its own way and make its own kind of contribution to the overall prosperity of Nigeria, generate harmony among the peoples of Nigeria, establish open and democratic political traditions in Nigeria, earn stability for Nigeria as a country, and start a new surge of hope for all Nigerians.
Needless to say, Nigeria’s continued existence as one country depends very much on the achievement of these outcomes. If we Nigerians cannot do Nigeria properly, we might as well let it go. We might as well let other structures emerge that can put substance, joy and hope back into the lives of the 170 millions who now flounder and suffer in Nigeria. We in Oodua Foundation strongly hope that, with this National Conference, we Nigerians will indeed begin to do Nigeria properly.
For this reason, we must express serious shock about the statement credited to the Northern Elders Forum meeting of March 10-11 that:
The planned National Conference has no constitutional basis, or any form of Legitimacy or authority to speak for the people of the North or other Nigerians. Its proceedings, conclusions and recommendations are therefore of no consequence and will not be accepted by the people of the North.
In the interest of all the peoples and citizens of Nigeria, we must urge the Northern Elders to reconsider this very damaging statement of theirs. In the history of the constitutional development of Nigeria, the present National Conference is perfectly in line with all previous Nigerian constitutional conferences, and it is by no means inferior to any in legitimacy. These are no times for irreconcilable stonewalling, or for hard postures designed to intimidate. No Nigerian people can now be intimidated. The way matters stand today, we either all join hands and sort out the colossal mess that Nigeria has become, or we separate.
From all over the world, we wish the National Conference success.
Dr. Dejo Ogunwande Prof. Adeniran Adeboye
Prof.(Senator) Banji Akintoye