Sovereign National Confab is diversionary

11

By Nnamdi Nwigwe

Constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, has tried several times to make the issue of a National Conference a matter for urgent discourse. He raised   the issue again when he led some members of his group, The Patriots, to canvass the topic at a meeting in Akwa Ibom State recently.

This idea of a National Conference has been brought up now and again whenever our leaders appear to be in search of fresh ideas on how to really make Nigeria rise from its current position on the lower rungs of emerging nations.

Since the disastrous and unfortunate annulment of the acclaimed June 12, 1993 Presidential election, which Chief Moshood K. O. Abiola was widely believed to have won, supporters of Abiola have been calling for what they termed “Sovereign National Conference.” The conference, whose decision would not be subjected to any tampering by any other authority according to the promoters, would involve all ethnic nationalities that make up the country. There are about 250 of them!

The purpose of the conference, they said, would be for all stakeholders in the country to decide whether we would all continue to live together as one nation and if “yes”, how? If, on the other hand, some groups opt for a disengagement from what we have now as Nigeria, the details will also have to be worked out. National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), an umbrella that sprang up on annulment of the 1993 poll, began the quest for the convocation of a “sovereign national conference” to discuss Nigeria’s future. The quest soon became a chorus for all sorts of people who had become fed up with the way things are going in the country. Soon, it became a battle cry for those who consider themselves as progressives.

On the other hand, quite a number of people who believe in national dialogue but not necessarily a “sovereign” one, have advocated such a meeting  through the National Assembly. After all, the National Assembly is a representative body of the Nigerian populace

I believe that the idea of more than 250 different tribes in Nigeria producing delegates to a “national sover eign conference” is an invitation to chaos.

And, to demand that a decision from such a motley crowd should be implemented would be a nightmare for any sitting government president. Apparently appreciative of the implications and complexities of such a “sovereign” conference, Prof. Nwabueze is limiting his demand to just a conference to jaw-jaw on what he describes as the “critical problems” of Nigeria which the eminent don diagnoses as “insecurity and lack of progress.”

Insecurity and lack of progress are consequences of our national problems. If Prof. Nwabueze would like to research into Nigeria’s real problems, he would discover that pervasive corruption and poverty are the nation’s Achilles Heels.

We must all begin to think of how to banish poverty in the land by tackling official corruption, head-on.  Poverty is a social phenomenon that deprives the individual of his real worth. It is non-tribalistic, non-partisan, non-religious. It visits every home without fear or favour. To eradicate poverty  requires the will, zeal and determination of each and every one of us. When we talk of the national question and don’t bring corruption and poverty as the main topics, we are simply deceiving ourselves.

Let our leaders focus their minds and intellect on this single issue and come up with solutions that are realizable and sustainable. Certainly, tearing up the fabric of Nigeria is no solution. When poverty persists, frustration and violence set in.

We must return to the old colonial and immediate post-colonial era when government contracts and purchases were executed through what was then known as Tenders’ Board. Not the kind of Tender’s board we see these days. The ideal Tender’s Board is when government announces a project and calls for tenders from qualified people, or the people’s tenders are sent to a Tenders’ Board, which is comprised of professionals and bureaucrats of high integrity.

The Board would meet to vet the applications. Whoever wins a government tender then goes ahead to source for funds to do the job. Unlike what happens now, no government official outside those constitutionally permitted to do so, had access to public finances, nor could they individually award contracts. Can’t we revert to Tenders’ Board System and ensure that the proper “due process” is followed?  Another fertile area of mindless stealing by officials in government is through lands and property tax.

The processing of land purchase, registration and obtaining of certificates of ownership (Cs of O) could be so streamlined that a timeline is given within which a C of O is given to an applicant without too much bribery along the line. Time limits should also be established for citizens to get their passports, counting from the day an applicant returns the form.

What of corruption at the Police Station? Bail is free. But how many of us have ever resisted giving bribe to bail somebody at the Police? Prof. Nwabueze and the Patriots, please remember many more of how things were done in the past and encourage Nigerians to revert to the good old days.  The call for National Soverign Conference is diversionary.

 

■ Nwigwe is a public analyst.

 

 

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  4. Nwigwe, chose between having people continue to live in bottled up anger and letting them pour out their grievances in a round table conference.

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  6. If there should be any conference why not Sovereign National Conference
    it must be a Sovereign National Conference because it must be a non-partisan approach
    Nnamdi Nwigwe If believe that the idea of more than 250 different tribes in Nigeria producing delegates to a “national sovereign conference” is an invitation to chaos the you must be wrong because the house of representative which is the lower house have over 360 member while the senate has 109-member bringing a total of 469 members that will deliberate the issue.
    moreover this 469 members are elected under different parties and are representing the interest of their various parties whereas the 250 ethnic nationalities are going to approach the matter as it affects them.
    The issue of the British colonial administration Fraudulently amalgamated the Southern and Northern Protectorates of Nigeria should be the main point of discus and not “critical problems” of Nigeria as requested by Prof. Nwabueze & CO
    @rich you that is why your forefather allowed themselves to be fooled and dragged into a perpetual slavery and you are still under that illusion keep deceiving yourself

  7. This message is from The Eastern Nigerian Youths Integration (ENYI) ([email protected])
    If there should be any conference why not Sovereign National Conference
    it must be a Sovereign National Conference because it must be a non-partisan approach
    Nnamdi Nwigwe If you believe that the idea of more than 250 different tribes in Nigeria producing delegates to a “national sovereign conference” is an invitation to chaos the you must be wrong because the house of representative which is the lower house have over 360 member while the senate has 109-member bringing a total of 469 members that will deliberate the issue.
    moreover this 469 members are elected under different parties and are representing the interest of their various parties whereas the 250 ethnic nationalities are going to approach the matter as it affects them.
    The issue of the British colonial administration Fraudulently amalgamated the Southern and Northern Protectorates of Nigeria should be the main point of discus and not “critical problems” of Nigeria as requested by Prof. Nwabueze & CO
    @rich you believe that the issue of a Sovereign National Conference is an Igbo affair? that is why your forefather allowed themselves to be fooled and dragged into a perpetual slavery and you are still under that illusion

  8. In addition to national conference, Nigeria is overdue for proportional representation to accommodate all ethnic groups in the country.

  9. I find Mr Nwigwe’s analysis rather too shallow. He failed to realise that ‘pervasive corruption and poverty’ which he thinks is the bane of Nigeria originates from mediocrity which was constitutionally erected in Nigeria in name of ‘federal character’. Every thing about Nigeria is false and until the falsehood is corrected through a national dialogue Nigeria will continue to go in circle.

  10. Poverty and corruption are definitely issues that cannot and should not be negleted or tackled squarely but issues as regards the ties that binds us together that are on the verge of snapping are of utmost importance and must be tabled before its too late at the SOVEREIGN national conference SOVEREIGN i repeat it must be. Its tragic,shameful,disgusting,disgraceful,real time diversionery and highly irresponsible that when we are talking about something of high magnitude and importance somebody,some low brain would be talking about poverty and corruption..its obvious where the likes of nwigwe are coming from…and “kudos” to the sUN! Jounalism indeed.

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