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The 2014 National Conference Report Must Live

goodluck jonathan

“The NRF called a retreat supposedly to discuss ‘rebuilding a safe, secure and economically inclusive northern Nigeria.’ That is a great idea but the time has come when persons who claim leadership roles at any level must broaden their thinking and perspectives and, in this federal republic, adopt a pan-Nigeria appreciation of issues. There is absolutely good reason to rebuild the northeastern part of Nigeria devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency.

But no right-thinking person would, as if the two propositions are mutually exclusive, use it as a justification for jettisoning the wide-reaching recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. As long as the ‘Nigeria Project’ remains an unfinished business, so long will there be a need to tinker with and improve it, and a conference that generated such great ideas as the 2014 Conference report is of great value to such end.

While the freedom of association and expression is guaranteed under the law, President Buhari must be wary of self-serving groups, ethnic, religious, regional, and any other type, which offer unsolicited propositions that clearly, or subtly, undermine the pan-Nigerian vision captured in the spirit and letter of the Nigerian constitution, ridicule the Buhari government’s contract with the Nigerian people as enunciated in both the constitution and the manifesto of the APC and, finally, diminish the President’s own pronouncements and stature before a nation that revers him.” – The Guardian, “The 2014 National Conference Report must live

Ah, na pie for Sky

E no go happen

No waste una time

No forget wetin the Sardauna, their papa, say before una tell me say I no sabi wetin a de talk

“The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to have control over their future”. 

 (Parrot Newspaper, 12th October, 1960, recalled by Tribune, 13th November, 2002)

Na em be their policoooo

Wen born-to-rule say National Conference Report don die

Una think say them de play?

Wen Buhari put em people for everywhere

Una think say them no serious?

Wen dem put una people for de small positions wey remain

yeye people wey go do wetin dem say

na who una go blame?

Una be mumu if after 100 years una still de swallow them lie

Born-to-rule today be born-to-rule forever

Nigeria don dieoooo, divide de abomination

Time wey everybody go answer him papa name don reach.

Listen to wetin wise Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Afenifere chieftain say for Daily Sun

Una no go fit say e no sabi wetin e de talk.

“You were part of the Afenifere group that gave blanket endorsement to the re-election bid of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Now, with the re­cent statement by the presidency say­ing PDP brought Nigeria to her knees by not leaving anything in the coffers of the Federal Government, how do you feel with the role you played in that election?

I have no regrets about the role I played. There were certain issues at the time of the election. My position then was that the two parties were evils, but PDP is a lesser evil. I said so because the change we need in the country today is the constitution. Until the constitution changes to enable us achieve a balanced federation, we can’t go anywhere. That is why Jonathan’s score from Abacha days to the present is higher. The progressives in this country have been shouting for the restructuring of the country because the root of our problem is the constitu­tion which is very unbalanced. My posi­tion, therefore, is that if we don’t change the constitution, the imbalance we have been talking about will continue. And this is what is happening. 

For example, the sharing of the bailout for the states for the payment of the arrears of sala­ries of workers was done in favour of the North where there are more local governments and states than the South. If we restructure the country, the cor­ruption which Buhari is talking about would have been taken care of under the recommendations of the confab. The Federal Government is corrupt because there is too much money there. The rec­ommendation of the confab has reduced the powers of the Federal Government by reducing the amount of money at the centre in favour of the states. It is also recommended that all zones must have equal number of local governments. And I made the point that all reforms Buhari is talking about are okay but that should not prevent him from implementing the recommendations. The bottom line is that the recommendations of the confab is not inconsistent with wiping out cor­ruption. 

So, my point is not because x or y is not corrupt. Somebody was ready to provide a leeway. This is not the con­stitution the founding fathers gave the country. The constitution they gave the country was purely confederal and bal­anced to the extent that each region as at that time had its own constitution. It’s this position that recommendation of the confab has brought back. With that, we can look into all the conflicts. And mind you, nobody has faulted the recommen­dations of the confab. If the bulk of the recommendation is right, why don’t we accept it and implement it and let’s move forward. All the issues we are complain­ing about go to the roots of the awkward constitution which was imposed on us by the military which is largely from a sec­tion of the country. 

And that is why we have been talking of confab and none of the past presidents did that except Presi­dent Jonathan. That is why Jonathan courts our favour. If today, Buhari ac­cepts to implement the recommendation of the confab, he is my candidate. I know that by so doing, he will be solving a lot of problems. That’s why we said a man who was ready to give us a change of the constitution was our man. We can’t get anywhere without changing the constitu­tion. If you look at the crisis in the Na­tional Assembly now, you could see some elements of ethnicity there. When they are talking of zoning and all that, it is the im­balance they are talking of.

Now, they are talking about the supremacy of the party- the supremacy of the party that doesn’t do justice to other re­gions. Let them do it the way they want and let’s see. If you pressmen will do your job as the watchdog of the society, you have to beam your searchlight on the injustice we are talking about. My own view and the view of Afenifere is that a North­erner will not be so disposed to changing the constitution be­cause they are the beneficiary of what we are complaining about. Let them disprove that. About 500 distinguished Nigerians rec­ommended a new constitution unanimously and nobody has come out to say what we did there was wrong. You pressmen don’t look at these things and tell Nigerians.

All everybody was saying is get out Jonathan. When you say Jonathan is bad, which I may not agree with you too much, the intention is that you want somebody who will do better. But what have they done bet­ter other than getting him away only for them to do what he was doing? For a party that has been clamouring for power for the past 16 years, how come they have not got a programme of their own?

They are talking about cut­ting the salaries of National Assembly members. Are these salaries more important than the allowances? All these have been taken care of under the new constitution. The impu­nity of the governors has been removed. The rotation they are talking about has been constitutionalised. The presidency is not going to be the monopoly of any region. These are the things we are talking about to be on the right path. To me, I believe Buhari is a very strong and hon­est person. If he wants to make a mark, let him implement the recommendations and disap­point those of us who believe because he is a Northerner, he will not do it. If he is for justice, let him do it for the good of the country. The moment he does that, he becomes my hero. Any­body who makes every section of the country conducive is my man. The present constitution makes the president of this country most powerful.

Are you saying that the rec­ommendation of the confab is equally capable of dealing with the crisis in the petro­leum sector?

All the problems plaguing the sector, including the question of revenue allocation and Niger Delta agitations have been tak­en care of in the recommenda­tions. We pacify the Niger Delta people by reviewing allocation to them. So, many things were done. That was why a lot of things were done by consensus. We didn’t vote at the place to ar­rive at the recommendations; go and look into it. If we continue with the old constitution, our problem will continue.” – The Sun, Northern interest won’t let Buhari implement confab report –Ayo Adebanjo, Afenifere chieftain

I throw way salute.

Na me uno brother wah de say, 100 years of slavery don do.

Emeka 

Oha Ka (The People must dey in charge)

The Guardian

The 2014 National Conference Report must live

THE proposition the other day, by a group that goes by the name Northern Reawakening Forum (NRF) to President Muhammadu Buhari that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government ignore, wholesale, recommendations of the 2014 National Conference Report is short-sighted and unhelpful to the cause of a better Nigeria. And coming from such persons who have served on national platforms as federal lawmakers and heads of federal agencies, it is regrettable, to say the least, that the idea canvassed betrays a narrowness of mindset and diminishes such men and women who, while in public office, once swore to ‘preserve the Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy as contained in the Constitution.’ It is even more disturbing that the spokesman for the NRF position is a certain Mohammed Kumalia who was co-chairman of the Conference’s committee on Political Restructuring and Form of Government.

If the 2014 Conference Chairman, Hon. Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi is to be believed that ‘all our resolutions were adopted by consensus [and] not once did we have to vote or come to a division’, then how, as a matter of honour, does Mr. Kumalia justify his new posture? Where was the courage of his conviction while he participated?

To claim that the conference was convened by former President Goodluck Jonathan to achieve a hidden agenda is even uncharitable to the many very busy, serious minded and respectable conferees who, by the implication of that opinion, stand accused as willful collaborators in such an agenda.

Jonathan’s 52-point inaugural speech to that Conference dwelt extensively on the justification for the conference. He said it was ‘being convened to engage in intense introspection about the political and socio-economic challenges confronting our nation and to chart the best and most acceptable way for the resolution of such challenges in the collective interest of all the constituent parts of our fatherland.’ 

He noted that these challenges ‘range from form of government, structures of government, devolution of powers, revenue sharing, resource control, state and local government creation, boundary adjustment, state police and fiscal federalism, to local government elections, indigeneship, gender equality and children’s rights, amongst others.’ ‘It makes sense’, he continued,‘ … that as the challenges before us evolve, we must be constant and proactive in our search for fresh solutions [instead of proffering] yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems.’ Pray, which genuine patriot will fault these motives? The then president concluded by saying that ‘Goodluck Jonathan has no personal agenda in convening [the conference].’ That this may be or may not be true is a matter of opinion and ‘motive hunters’ may choose to cling to their position.

But the point must be taken that the conference chairman and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi said at the occasion of the submission of the conference report: ‘Let me state here categorically and with the fear of Almighty Allah in my heart that not once did [President Jonathan] interfere or dictate to us in the course of this Conference.’ And Kutigi, it must be said, ranks as one of the most respected citizens of Nigeria who hails from the northern part of the country.

The 2014 National Conference, of course, took off on a widespread note of suspicion as to the motive of the then government and scepticism about the purpose that another Conference could ever serve after several others that had been held at great monetary and other costs to the nation. The then opposition APC as a party refused to participate on the argument that it was ill- timed and opportunistic. But it was sensible that, it did not object to its members doing so on personal recognition. At the cost of about N10 billion, four and a half months of hard thinking, hard bargaining, lengthy, complex, often-times heated discussions, and immense paperwork by 494 men and women, mostly of no mean stature, the Conference produced over 10,000 pages of 22 reports and annexure. They made over 600 recommendations for the improvement of the political, economic and social structures and the overall regeneration of the country.

No one can wish away this conference as if it never happened. Whereas the report is not perfect, just as the authors are not, it is as good as any document can be to work with in the quest for a new Nigeria. And as this newspaper had said in an earlier editorial, the APC government should, for at least two reasons, not shy away from borrowing and implementing ideas from it. One, the act of governance is a continuum and it stands to reason that a well-meaning government should continue from where its predecessor stopped those policies and programmes that further good governance. Two, it is a constitutional declaration that the primary purpose of government is the security and welfare of the people. Therefore, any and every government, irrespective of party coloration, is constitutionally bound to implement ideas and sustain measures that benefit the country and its citizens.

The national conference report recommends solutions to many nagging issues, including revenue sharing, two-tier police system, independent candidacy, making Chapter II of the extant constitution justiciable, and a ban on state funding of pilgrimage and religious matters. A good idea is simply that, regardless of its origin! For the sake of Nigeria and its people, besides the tonnes of public money expended, this APC government must do right by Nigerians and implement that report. Indeed, some of the recommendations like devolution of powers, decentralising the police are in line with promises in the APC manifesto. Some of the APC-controlled states have, as recommended by the conference, even stopped funding pilgrimages.

The NRF called a retreat supposedly to discuss ‘rebuilding a safe, secure and economically inclusive northern Nigeria.’ That is a great idea but the time has come when persons who claim leadership roles at any level must broaden their thinking and perspectives and, in this federal republic, adopt a pan-Nigeria appreciation of issues. There is absolutely good reason to rebuild the northeastern part of Nigeria devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency. But no right-thinking person would, as if the two propositions are mutually exclusive, use it as a justification for jettisoning the wide-reaching recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. As long as the ‘Nigeria Project’ remains an unfinished business, so long will there be a need to tinker with and improve it, and a conference that generated such great ideas as the 2014 Conference report is of great value to such end.

While the freedom of association and expression is guaranteed under the law, President Buhari must be wary of self-serving groups, ethnic, religious, regional, and any other type, which offer unsolicited propositions that clearly, or subtly, undermine the pan-Nigerian vision captured in the spirit and letter of the Nigerian constitution, ridicule the Buhari government’s contract with the Nigerian people as enunciated in both the constitution and the manifesto of the APC and, finally, diminish the President’s own pronouncements and stature before a nation that revers him.

By Nnaemeka Onumonu-Uzoaru, Oha Ka (The People must dey in charge)

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