NATIONAL CONFERENCE: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

ormer Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Conference, Justice Idris Kutigi

Former Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Conference, Justice Idris Kutigi

When national issues constantly take forefront, then the nation’s history is on the verge of being redrafted. President Goodluck Jonathan’s inventiveness of a national conference as indicated in his 53rd Independence Anniversary speech was a silence-breaker. To some, that step was an indication of rebirth for the nation. To some others, it was a political arrangement that had a deceptive undertone. To me, it was like a piston – pumping the questions in my bemused heart out of my mouth.

It was on 1st October, 2013.

I wondered “Why now?”

The nation had just experienced her greatest 21st century political synergy – which birthed the APC and became a point of attraction for some elites in the ruling party. At that point, the education sector was swiftly dwindling as University teachers had been on the dole for exactly three months; the nation’s security was facing its greatest threat since Civil War; among others. The handwriting on the wall was clear that the blind could see. There was a need to trace the pathways to our collective future.

One of the most important reasons for this conference is to foster unity among us as a Federal Republic. Delegates were chosen from all geopolitical zones, so as to avoid ethno-religious colourations. However, if the conference was aimed at fostering unity, then something is wrong with the process. On the very first day of the conference, for instance, there was a minor religious shadow-boxing just because of opening prayer. That was the very first day. Let’s face it! You cannot have a second chance to make a first impression!

Moreover, the national conference poses as much as an avenue to squander financial resources. We do not need a Degree in Economics to know that making provisions of #7 billion for the conference is a well-celebrated festival of waste. Tertiary institutions are complaining of underfunding, the nation’s security is succumbing to the daily tragedies orchestrated by the Boko Haram sect, the nation’s health facility is crying for help, unemployment pushed over 600,000 people to apply for vacancies available for 5,000 people leading to the deaths and injuries of many Nigerians; yet, #7 billion is used to compensate some ‘drowsy’ people doing ‘re-awakening’ job.

Yadoma Bukar Mandara, the youngest of the 492 delegates, is 24! Surely that's far too old!

Yadoma Bukar Mandara, the youngest of the 492 delegates, is 24! Surely that’s far too old!

 

Furthermore, we must also put in consideration the short-sightedness involved in the defective selection of delegates. This is 21st century – an era when young people are taking leadership roles in developed nations. Nigeria is Africa’s most populated nation, and about 80-million Nigerians are between the ages of 18 and 35 years. Contrarily, youth representation at the National Conference is about 3.66% while the average age of delegates at the conference is 61 years. I think it’s a rape on the nation’s future. If truly the conference is aimed at piloting the nation into her desired future, then the next generation of leaders shouldn’t have 18 representatives out of 492 delegates. The cancer of gerontocracy eating deep into the intestine of our nation is evidently replicated at the conference.

By the way, what difference would it make to subject the report of the conference to members of the National Assembly – which never had the confidence of the Nigerian populace in handling fundamental issues? They are seen as part of the political vampires sucking the nation’s economic vitality. So, to justly achieve the purpose of the conference, I think it’s much better to opt for a referendum.

At this point, I think we should halt and touch the breath of history in order to predict futuristic tendencies. I won’t be disappointed if this conference shares the gene of failure with 1994/95 Constitutional Conference and 2005 National Political Reform. Abacha’s conference led to the 1995 constitution, which was driving towards the conversion of Gen. Sanni Abacha as Civilian President. On the other hand, Chief Obasanjo’s Reform had an undertone of a third-term agenda. We must learn from history. President Jonathan’s suggestion of National Conference in about a year to general elections is debatable.

Finally, I make bold to assert that if the collective interest of the Nigerian populace is not placed at the fore, the conference might end like an empty talk shop, just like the previous ones. We cannot afford to keep trivializing our priorities or prioritizing our trivialities.

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Adeniruju Adedapo-Treasure
A writer, wishful filmmaker and advocate who breathes and tweets via @TreasureNGA.

10 Responses to “NATIONAL CONFERENCE: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

  • You have just touched me with this excellent write up, when some opposition leaders discredited the so called confab, they were tagged enemies of the Presidency but by and large we have all seen clearly that it was all a sham. May God save our dear nation from the claws of purposeless leadership. Quality write up, keep it up. I am sure Prince will be proud of you where he his right now.

    • I hope Nigerians will be patient enough to await the coming of the final day of Confab result collation (say August 23rd thereabout). By then, it will be obvious whether or not it’s a progressive agenda.

      Thanks for taking your time to peruse the piece.

  • What is most disturbing for me about this charade dubbed a national conference is the fact that whatever resolutions, agreement, and propostions that are made at the conference are at the mercies of our lawmaker at the national assembly. They’ll expunge any resolution that does not favour them and ractify or endorse only those that perpetuate their agenda for the nation. I wonder why we keep going around in circles like the Israelites in the Bible kept moving around the mountain. What make our own dilemma worse is that we have refused to forge ahead even when God had since given the command.
    I must say this is a very wonderful piece from Oga Dapo. I’m short of words to describe the ingenuity displayed in this write up. Yet something tells me I haven’t seen anything.

    • The anxieties surrounding the establishment of the National Conference is not as much as the expectations of the destination of its results. Most Nigerians believe that the lawmakers are also the law-breakers!
      In my opinion, if the decisions reached at the Confab is not implemented with a masses-oriented treatment (referendum, etc), then the last few months have successfully played the role of a ‘social excursion’ for the 492 delegates.

      Thanks for taking your time to read through, sir. We hope to deliver better in subsequent times.

  • Very beautiful write up, you really hit the nail on the Head.. may God send balm to our wounds in this Country

    • Amen, sir. And while he sends the balm, I hope the nation will show readiness for the rubbing of the balm. Thanks for taking the time to read.

  • Wonder how many delegates whose mates died in a conference will live to see the approval of there decisions. Bunch of schooled men deciding the syllabus of an unborn child. Wonder if they all will be alive to see his weaning. With 2015 in mind,the intent of every move by any political leader should be checked to ensure its not a political campaign for re-election!

    • It’s more than amazing how an ultra-digital future is left to be designed by ultra-analogue. When national decisions are made based on selfish political ambitions, the nation may as well be eager to embrace gloom!

  • Great piece. More power to your elbow.

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