Former House of Representatives member, Salvador Adegoke Moshood, is a member from Lagos State
representing Ethnic Nationalities at the ongoing National Conference. Moshood, who is also the Treasurer of the Yoruba Unity Forum, YUF, speaks on what the conference is out to do for Nigeria and how President Jonathan should tackle the security challenges facing the nation so as to make the country stronger and better for all Nigerians.
By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
WHAT has the YUF achieved since it came out drumming support for the promotion of the core ideals of the late Sage, Obafemi Awolowo?
Well, our major effort is basically geared towards improving what Papa had done. That is very important to us and we must continue to work in that regard.
How are you doing that?
One of the biggest opportunities we have had to propagate the values for which papa lived and died is the ongoing National Conference. It is more than agitating daily. It was the YUF at our last national meeting at Eko Hotel in Lagos that suggested to Mr. President that he should convoke the National Conference before the end of 2013 and he did so by appointing the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Conference with Senator Okurounmu as the chairman. Don’t forget that Okorounmu happens to be a major stakeholder and leader of the YUF. That was where we started.
Are you saying that the conference is a baby of the YUF?
Yes, we can say so. It is a baby of the YUF. And immediately after the conference, we are moving to another level to get our views across to other Nigerians. YUF has formed a partnership with others in the South to form the Southern Nigerian Peoples Parliament, which we are using to work for the National Conference.
We started from Uyo, and then moved to Enugu before West. We have also done another one in Asaba, Delta State. The next one will be done in the South-East and we will ask Mr. President to implement the result of the conference.
Is it really possible to galvanise the different groups in the South to achieve a consensus on any issue?
I know that it is a Herculean task but we will get there. We started this marriage about two years ago and we have been doing everything together since then. In fact that is why we have formed the Southern Nigerian Peoples Parliament, which has made the Arewa people very uncomfortable.
What do you think your group can achieve for the Southern part of Nigeria?
Go and look at the Yoruba agenda together with those of the South-East and South-South. You will discover that we have sat down together and harmonised our interests before coming out. The South-South interest may not be the same with South-East but we have to get a middle position in our own interest. We have to tolerate each other and be able to move forward.
We want something that will move Nigeria forward. You talk of regionalism; South-South can never go against it. You talk of true federalism, which the South-South and South-West are clamouring for but in different colouration. The colouration has been agreed by all the zones and even if you give 100 percent to a region, taxation will significantly reduce it.
Are you really convinced that the National Conference will achieve anything for Nigeria?
Well, it is left for us Nigerians to make progress or not. If we want the status quo to remain, too bad, but if we want change, we should allow the recommendations being made from the conference to stand. When we go to referendum, Nigerians should take the decisions they think are best for this country.
In specific terms what does the YUF want from the National conference?
They are asking for Regionalism. They initially asked for the six zones to be converted to regions and I said no let us go into the 12 regions template by Yakubu Gowon. The issue of having a region with seven states in the North and five in the South would not arise. Each state should have the right and the constitution of their own.
They can create their own states and local governments and run their economy the way their want. That way, we will not use the number of states and local government for resource sharing and the cost of governance will be reduced.
Do you think the YUF position will be accepted by other delegates?
The beauty of the conference is that it has provided a platform for all Nigerians to know themselves better. You will recall that in the first few days of the confab the delegates behaved as if they came for a war. But shortly after, we started eating Kola together and thinking aloud as a team.
We should stand up and work for the progress of all parts of this country. We need to educate Nigerians that no part of this country should stop the other parts of the country from developing.
Do you think the government has done enough to tackle insurgency in the country?
You have to add the name Boko Haram. You cannot remove the name from what is going on in the country today. Boko Haram means education is forbidden. And if you forbid education and you can see the number of people in the North who came out to do NECO and other public examinations compared to the number of students from the other parts of the country and see the havoc that these renegades have done to their people in the name of insurgency.
If you forbid education it means you don’t want growth; it shows that it is an internal war and you cannot say whether government has done enough or not. Government will be doing as much as it needs to do but they need to change their strategy. That is why I said the other day to Mr. President that there should be no sacred cow.
I have said it many times; the President needs to take serious action to arrest the situation. He does not need to shy away from the evil that is fast spreading.