THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE AND NIGERIA’S SEARCH FOR NATIONHOOD

naijare-599x300Since the declaration by the federal government of it’s intention to set up a committee to work out the modality of setting up a National Conference that will afford Nigerians the opportunity to talk and fashion the way forward, the polity as well as the media have being awash with reactions from all and sundry. Stakeholders and non-stakeholders alike.

Even those once thought to have opposed the convocation of such a conference in the past, seem now to have had a change of mind. The elite and politicians from the Northern part of Nigeria had long overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to the setting up of a SOVEREIGN National Conference,as canvassed by their counterparts in the South. It seems that the removal of the word ‘Sovereign’ is what bought them over this time round.

Nigerians have always sought opportunities to talk, and this isn’t the first time an attempt is being made to bring Nigerians to the round table, unfortunately previous attempts (as recently as that during the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo) became thwarted as the government of the day attempted to insert a clause that will see it perpetuated in power beyond the time constitutionally stipulated. All the lofty recommendations that came with that Conference was thrown out with the one that generated a lot of bad blood and a great opportunity was thus once again lost.

This time around, the sincerity of a government fighting for it’s survival , to hold or supervise or promote a National Conference of ethnic nationalities is being called into question, especially as it’s coming at a time it seems the government is clutching to every branch to keep itself afloat and buy cheap popularity preparatory to President Jonathan’s perceived interest in running for reelection in the 2015 Presidential elections.

The fear that the National Conference
will serve the purpose of those who
want Nigeria to be divided into it’s
constituent units remain potent as
always. This is one of the reasons
canvassed by those who rejected the
idea that such a National Conference
be Sovereign. They also are of the
view that the issue of the unity or
indivisibility of Nigeria should remain
off limits in the terms and references
of the planned National Conference.

Those opposed to the above claim
that the aims of a National Conference
will be defeated if there are ‘No Go
Areas’, as those are infact the issues
which if unresolved today will
continue to gnaw at the innards of the
Unity of the contraption called Nigeria.
The fact that this is coming up just
weeks after the National Assembly
concluded it’s constitutional review
exercise which saw legislators travel
the length and breadth of the nation
seeking inputs into what should form
the core of the proposed
amendments, show that the whole
exercise was a failure as much as it
was a charade. This is evidenced in
the fact that most of the areas
Nigerians asked for or were against,
came upturned during debates at the
National Assembly, while issues such
as child marriage in relation to
something entirely different recieved
some attention to the chagrin of the
people of Nigeria, who readily voiced
their displeasure by protesting
physically and via social media.
The Senate President, David Mark also
voiced his support for the National
Conference at the resumption of
plenary, in a veiled attempt at
accepting the failure of the National
Assembly to meeting the yearnings of
the people of Nigeria in their search
for the way forward, in terms of
building a Nigeria with a constitution
that truly has the backing of the
people, whose formulation is the
people of Nigeria.

The truth is that, the Nigerian people
as it were have never truly had a say
in the way they want their country to
be governed. They didn’t even ask for
Nigeria to be. Nigeria was fashioned to
ease administration for the British
colonialists by Lord Lugard who
amalgamated the Northern part of it,
to it’s Southern part. The name
however came from Lugard’s mistress
who later became his wife.

When power came to Nigerians at
independence, again the voice of the
people never mattered, leading to
military incursions, who also at the
end of the day never bothered to
consult the people as to what they
really wanted. Naturally, discontent set
in, and today the Nigerian in the
context in which a British or an
American or Chinese sees himself
does not exist, because he’s first and
foremost a citizen of his ethnic
nationality before being a Nigerian
(sometimes that follows a distance
behind his religion).

The need then to talk has become a
necessity, which only those who hate
Nigeria and wish the prediction that
the entity will break by 2015 come to
pass, will oppose. It is however
imperative that if Nigerians must talk,
they must talk properly, with all
options put on the table, and most
importantly with political will and
backing to ensure that all the ideas
and recommendations mooted and
adopted be without let and further
dousing by the National Assembly
codified and accepted as law and
passed as such probably after a
referendum is held to test their
acceptance with Nigerians.
It is my hope that Nigerians won’t let
this chance slip again, as the
consequences may be dire not
necessarily if we fail to talk, but if we
talk inadequately.

‘kovich

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