The pan-Yoruba group, Oodua People's Congress (OPC) said it has taken stock of the deliberations at the National Conference and warned that any decision taken outside a return to regionalism would be inimical to the growth of Nigeria and a threat to her continued existence.
This was contained in a release signed by OPC's Director of Information, Gboyega Adeoye in Lagos yesterday. The group said: "the usurpation of power from the regions by the federal government was a plot by the military to plunder the national economy in contradiction to the 1963 constitution, which was originally designed for the growth and unity of Nigeria by the founding fathers of the country.
"Any system of government in a multi-ethnic state such as Nigeria that does not encourage competition among the resident nationalities is a fallacy. This is why we are sending this message to the delegates at the ongoing national conference to use the available opportunity at hand to canvass a return of the country to the regions as enshrined in the 1963 constitution, which stands as the only legitimate constitution drafted with the sound knowledge of our founding fathers," the statement added.
He pointed out that the group's demand for regionalism was total and non-negotiable, saying Nigeria was once a peaceful, progressive and united country with the initial arrangement where there were stronger regions with each using both its human and natural resources to grow its economy.
"We hereby propose that the country should return to zones as against the present system in which the states are the federating units. We also propose that each zone must be economically viable, as opposed to the current situation in which the states have been abysmally weakened and left to the mercy of the too powerful federal government.
The 1963 constitution has so ordered everything to promote healthy competition and speedy development. Derivation was 50 per cent to the host zone as royalty, 30 per cent is kept by federal government in the Distributable Pool Account for equitable sharing among the zones, while it holds on to the remaining 20 per cent" the statement added.
The organisation pointed out that it realised that under the zoning arrangement, aggrandisement gave way for patriotism: "the kind we need at this nick of time to save the country from imminent collapse that could be facilitated by possible forceful break up".
The group pointed out that greatest problem besetting Nigeria today is the transparent lopsidedness in its sharing formula; a situation which it said allowed the federal government to take almost 55 per cent of the entire revenue and leave the 36 states in the country with 45 per cent to share.
It added: "the mad rush for oil money, a situation that has reduced the once up and doing regions to beggars must be crippled and stopped. We have resolved to ensure that the result from the ongoing conference will determine the future of a united Nigeria. And because we support a united Nigeria (where equal rights and justice prevail), we hereby send this warning to delegates at the national conference to tow the line of patriotism and selflessness by uniting unanimously on issues that will encourage a united and virile Nigeria that we shall all be proud to identify with. The founding fathers in their time took more interest in building their zones and sending their lieutenants to the centre,” it said.
The group also commended Senators Ken Nnamani and Adolphus Wabara, Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Senator Femi Okurounmu, Chief Olu Falae, General Alani Akinrinade (rtd), Dr. Kunle Olajide, and Otunba Gani Adams for what it described as their progressive positions at conference.