I have always said it that am in full support of the national dialogue being proposed by the president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan but whether it will yield the much needed result is what I can’t say for sure. Am aware that the presidential committee set up basically for this purpose is going round the nation gathering public opinion on the type of conference needed by the people. As I was discussing this sensitive topic with my colleagues at work the other day, one of them categorically told me that this is a ‘kangaroo’ arrangement being made by the presidency to further make Nigerians believe that he is committed to the collective yearnings of the masses. He also said that the political class will hijack the whole process and it would end up being another waste of the tax payers’ money. Another issue is the timing of the confab or national dialogue or sovereign national conference depending on how you perceive it considering that 2015 general elections are at the corner. It looks suspicious doesn’t it?
From my little understanding of the constitution, sovereignty belongs to the people from which the government through constitution derives her powers and not the government but the politicians have seized everything including sovereignty. This is serious!
It is interesting that many Nigerians are in support of a national conference. But the modalities of organizing it are where the people differ. However, considering the urgent need to build a consensus over time and produce confidence among the various nationalities, religious groups, classes and representatives of all social groups in the country. If all the burning issues must be tackled once and for all, the conference is definitely not an event that can start and be concluded within a year frame. The conference will likely witness a lot of words trading, agreements and disagreements, walk-outs, threats and counter-threats until some consensus is reached which will accommodate the different views and our unity in diversity. To that extent, organizing a national conference within a year to federal and state elections may not yield the right effects. Elections as we all know in Nigeria have been volatile, sometimes violent, targeting our major fault lines of ethnicity and religion. The country has found it difficult to put together a world class election that is above flaws. Even the arguable improvements recorded in 2011 involved a lot of time and resources.
Therefore, to combine the 2015 elections with the national conference which will also demand a lot of mobilization along the major fault lines will be a mixture of fire and gunpowder. If I say that it will not work, I would either be seen as a pessimist or unpatriotic. One thing very certain is that it will produce disorder, chaos, tension and further make or mar us as a people. The convocation of the national conference or dialogue should be left to the government that will emerge after 2015 elections when a new and fresh government might have taken over and not now. Good luck Nigeria!
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