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Published On: Tue, Mar 18th, 2014

No presidential handshake for delegates

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By Patrick Andrew

Having a presidential handshake with Mr. President is not only a privilege but a cherished honour, especially where the one number citizen is revered by all and sundry. Never mind that no single individual enjoys holistic love and appreciation by one and all.

However, a president is a president and not a few look forward to the honour of rubbing palms with the most prominent citizen of their country. Some consider the act with a certain degree of religious piety and are almost certain to tell the story for years to come.

Better still, if the act was captured in still camera, it is kept as a memorabilia for generations unborn to relish.

Well, for the 492 delegates, there certainly is no such memorabilia.

As delegates they may have looked forward to the event: handshakes with Mr President: Goodluck Jonathan. But it was not to be.

No, there was such arrangement. It was even elaborately announced by the Master of Ceremony that the 492 delegates should file out and enjoy the cozy privilege of rubbing palms with the occupant of Aso Villa, our bowler hat wearing President, he of the ‘I had no shoes refrain’.

They filed out. So did, Mr. President. Yes, GEJ took few shots with the leadership of the National Conference Committee, but not the entire delegates. It seems the privilege of having a shot with President Jonathan was dedicated to the privileged few. After all, stars differ from stars in glory, and all fingers are certainly not equal. Some are more equal than others. And Chairman of the Confab.

Retired Idris Legbo Kutigi, his vice, the Secretary and three Assistants must savour the privilege.

Yes, some of the delegates have had the privilege of shaking hands with the president, and indeed other presidents. But the occasion and importance would always make the difference. The National Confab comes once in a life time.

Recall that the United States of America, the world’s model of democracy has had only 27 constitutional conferences since it was first adopted in 1787. Now, that’s instructive. That’s over 200 years ago. Imagine what it would mean for one to wait for another opportunity for a confab to enjoy such privilege.

Anyway, considering the high turnover of constitutional conferences in Nigeria since the first venture in 1956, the likelihood of a fresh conference soonest can’t be overlooked. The present effort is the sixth exercise and the immediate past was that packaged by President Olusegun Obasanjo, which some say was only intended to orchestrate the third term agenda and that once it failed to success, the entire exercise was condemned to the dustbin of history.

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