This memo to those who have been chosen, by merit or demerit, to gather and dialogue on behalf of all Nigerians is intricate. They are going to be our National Assembly for the number of days that they will be working. They are going to collect taxpayers’ money. So this is a difficult task because it is believed that a lot of Nigerians are too self-centered. If not, a nation with 109 distinguished senators and 360 honourable members of House of Representatives in the National Assembly would have changed this country for good. Unfortunately, there are those who collect fat amounts but do not contribute anything to the nation’s growth, year in year out.
The conferees are more in number than the membership of the National Assembly. With their assistants, drivers and aides, the number may surpass the number of National Assembly staff. It may well be that Abuja is going to face traffic and accommodation challenges during the period of the conference. It is therefore hoped that the effect of the Abacha one-million man march will be less. It is also hoped that the 2005 national conference will not be referred to better, despite the walkouts by several interest groups.
Nonetheless, the leadership of the 492-member conference is made up of known Nigerians. The conference Chairman, Justice Idriss Legbo Kutigi, Deputy Chairman Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Secretary Dr. (Mrs.) Valerie Azinge, Assistant Secretary, Conference Proceedings Dr. Akilu Indabawa, Assistant Secretary, Finance & Administration Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications Mr. James Akpandem are Nigerians who the citizens know their contributions to the nation building in their different capacities. The ship they are going to captain shortly is NIGERIA and they have no option than to be extraordinarily careful not to wreck it under whatever pressure, lobbying or force. Rather, it would be honourable to resign midway if integrity is to be compromised and a pullout becomes inevitable.
Yes, never a pessimist! Let me explore what has been going inside the minds of Nigerians earlier before this national conference. The question is: What is the cure for Nigeria? Is it faith and piety? Is it selflessness? Is it patriotism or chauvinism? Is it real self reliance? Is it human beings with feelings for other existences? Is it individuals who can look beyond their own feet? Is it justice and fairness? Is it love for death and hatred for life? Is it dismemberment? What is it that can cure Nigeria???
Nigerian leaders have proffered solutions to the nation’s multi-faceted problems. Let’s look at the positions of Nigerians, with emphasis on the common points. President Goodluck Jonathan, in a national broadcast on the Centenary celebration said the unity of Nigeria is sacrosanct.
In his a message to the nation on December 25, 2012, Jonathan observed that Jesus Christ’s mission on earth have great significance for Nigerians as a people and there can be no doubt that all Nigerians, irrespective of their religious beliefs, can draw immense strength and inspiration from the Christ’s enduring personification of selflessness, dedication to duty, and commitment to the well-being of others. In another massage to the nation on Workers’ Day, he said, diversifying the economy away from the oil sector and focusing on agriculture, housing, manufacturing, creative industries, and other sectors that generate jobs and grow the economy has long been a national goal.
In his address at the Special Convention of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at Eagle Square, Abuja, Saturday, 31st August, 2013, he identified among others job and wealth creation through the local content law, massive investment in the oil and marine business, provision of power for development, gender equality, security of lives and properties of the citizenry, fight against corruption, poverty and destitution and upholding the tenets of democracy for national unity, equity and justice as ingredients for growth and stability. “We must insist on justice and equity. We must insist on defending Nigeria from those who threaten her in words and deeds. We are a nation in God’s hands and we must keep it so”, the President noted.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in a letter to President goodluck Jonathan had this to say, “We must all remember that corruption, inequity and injustice breed poverty, unemployment, conflict, violence and wittingly or unwittingly create terrorist because the opulence of the governor can only lead to the leanness of the governed. But God never sleeps; He is watching, waiting and bidding His time to dispense justice. In a democracy, leaders are elected to lighten the burden of the people, give them freedom, choice and equity and ensure good governance. Nothing should be done to undermine the tenets, and values of democratic principles and practice.”
“The virtues and ideals of peace, tolerance, faithfulness, honesty, justice, fairness, true wisdom, knowledge and understanding which Jesus taught and exemplified also remain very relevant to us in Nigeria as we continue to grapple with the challenges of development and nation-building.”
Another Head of State, General Muhammad Buhari, GCFR at his party’s CPC National Convention in Abuja on May 11, 2013 lamented over an unprecedented fall in the nation’s standard of living and an astronomical rise in the standard of dying, believing that Nigeria has become a nation in which nothing works as it should or works at all. “They promised to give the nation credible elections…They promised to fight corruption…They promised to stop the insurgency…henceforth our votes must all be counted…never again tolerate or allow to pass the mayhem the government deliberately creates in order to cover up its guilt, obscure the issues and then blame the opposition in order to deceive gullible folks”, he said.
All this is food for thought for 400 0dd conferees.
Muhammad Ajah is reachable on firstname.lastname@example.org