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Published On: Thu, Jul 31st, 2014

A sham of a conference and its impracticable recommendations

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By Mansir Lawal Kaware

Many Nigerians were sceptical about sincerity of the National Dialogue/Conference as proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan. Against all odds, the conference finally took off on 17th March, 2014. In practical terms the only success recorded so far has been that of bringing more arguments than resolving issues. The conference adjourned to 4th August for going through recommendations and signing, but to be candid, there is nothing to sign, because there have been no acceptable conclusions arising from the deliberations that took place in the course of the sittings.

The conference has done nothing other than what can be referred to as presentation of motions, which could by extension, be considered as expression of opinions.

Going by the recommendations and adoptions as being reported on the pages of News Papers, one wonders what went wrong, that the calibre of people gathered even though it was through selection, could come up with such recommendations and worst still were said to be adopted by the conference. Sometimes one begins to ask whether the recommendations were the work of the conference members or rather were just prepared scripts given to present to the Conference Hall.

Most of the recommendations do not tally with the reality, such that even if they were adopted their implementation is an impossible task. As at July 2011, the American Population was 311,591,917 with fifty states and uninterrupted democratic period of 238 – 250 years. Since Nigeria is copying American constitution, we should judge ourselves by the democratic period and population. As at 2011, Nigeria’s population stood at 162,470, 737 with 36 states and an uninterrupted democratic period of 15 – 16 years. With a minimum difference of over 220 years of democratic experience and 140 million population greater than that of Nigeria, our delegates want us to have more states than America. This is even when some of the states are having 8 – 9 local governments with the opportunity of sending three senators to the National Assembly as done by the American States. And the conference was telling us that recommendation for additional states has been adopted by the conference.

The conference adopted 18% derivation for oil producing states when they cannot prove in physical terms the development carried out in the affected states with the 13% given to them. Recommendation for state Police has been adopted for those states that can shoulder their responsibility, while a lot of complaints were arising from the use of local security operatives that do not have full fledged powers in those states, yet the conference had adopted the report. There was confusion in rotational Presidency among party faithful and open refusal on the part of those in power, yet it has been recommended to be part of the constitution and the conference had adopted it. The conference had even drifted to the issue of cross carpeting from one party to the other with all sorts of punishment and the conference accepted and approved it.

More so, Chief Ezeife was saying the conference should even be more powerful than the National Assembly, hence whatever it resolved must not be tampered with by anybody, but should simply be adopted as the Nigeria’s new constitution. Haba! Are the conference members really saying they studied these mentioned recommendations and many more, and also believed that it is the best for the country. Even if some people were hired from outside Nigeria to do this work we expect them to do a better job than what our delegates have done.

What the conference has recommended and adopted is no better than an ash block which cannot hold itself, let alone stand as a building meant to shelter residents of a house for living things.

While their work may be okay for Goodluck Jonathan who selected and appointed them, for other Nigerians we could just bid them farewell and wish them safe journey back to their respective destinations. What was paid to them could be part of their national cake, but the purpose for which they were gathered ended in futility, because Nigerians have gained nothing from it. And it was not because they do not know what was supposed to be done, rather because that was the best expected of them by those who gave them the assignment. As for those who went to the conference with innocent minds, please record our sympathy, but may have to bear with the situation, as we cannot but give the conference a blanket score of zero because that is what we have seen from the general conduct of the conference. The National assembly is therefore advised to jettison the report and avoid another waste of time and resources by contemplating to go through the report or consider sending it to states Houses of Assembly, because there is nothing to write home about in its contents.

Mansir Lawal Kaware wrote in from Katsina


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