Published On: Wed, Oct 2nd, 2013

Mixed Reactions Trail Proposed National Conference

LAGOS OCTOBER 2ND (URHOBOTODAY)-Some politicians on Tuesday expressed mixed reactions over the proposed national conference as announced by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The politicians, in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Ibadan, agreed that there was a need for such a forum but expressed divergent opinions on modalities.
Mr. Jonathan had in his Independence Day broadcast promised to set up a committee to define the modalities for the convocation of a national conference.

Olufemi Lanlehin (APC-Oyo South) described government’s move as a welcome development needed to move the nation forward.
“Nobody can fault the fact that Nigerians need to sit down together, talk, dialogue and reach consensus on how to live together and be governed,” Mr. Lanlehin said.
He, however, faulted the call for a Sovereign National Conference in place of a national conference, adding that it was not practicable and unrealistic.
“Sovereignty is all about the freedom of the people to take decisions.
“There is no way the government would surrender its powers and sovereignty given to it by the people to a collection of people to decide how it operates.
“It should be a conference that can change the constitution to meet the demands and yearnings of the people while the government domesticates and implements through its organs,” he said.
Expressing a contrary view to the senator, Bayo Shittu, a former governorship candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Oyo State, described the move for a conference as a distraction.
He said the distraction was to prevent government from tackling some pressing national issues.
Mr. Shittu, who was part of the national conference convoked by the Obasanjo-led administration, said that the forum would not achieve any tangible result, adding that it was unclear whether it would be sovereign.
A former Minister and Attorney-General of the Federation, Richard Akinjide, however, declined comments.
But a cross section of other Nigerians applauded the president for proposing the idea of a national conference.
Human rights lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, described the proposed conference as the best independence gift Nigeria had ever received.
Mr. Ajulo, who noted that Nigerians have been clamouring for a national conference in the last 12 years, said the president had demonstrated his responsiveness to the yearnings and aspirations of the people.
“This will afford us an opportunity of dialogue among the various ethnic groups in the country,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Dayo Fadahunsi, the Special Adviser to Governor Olusegun Mimiko on Union Matters, described the idea of a national conference as a welcome development.
He, however, advised that “it should be representative if we want it to achieve the desired development associated with it.’’
“It is long overdue, but it is better late than never. The president should ensure that every component part of the entity called Nigeria is carried along in this all important conference.
“This is to ensure equity and fairness to all concerned. It will definitely move our great nation forward,” Mr. Fadahunsi said.
Juliana Fayehun, Director of Information Service, Ondo State Ministry of Information, said the president must have consulted widely before he took the decision.
According to her, Mr. Jonathan portrayed himself as a listening president because Nigerians had for long been clamouring for a conference.
“I am quite convinced that if handled properly, the conference will definitely move the nation forward.
“My only concern is that they should allow us to choose our representatives for if they handpicked representatives for the conference, they would defeat its aims and this is not good for our fledgling democracy,” she said.
Similarly, Oke Michael, a lecturer in the Department of Banking and Finance, Ekiti State University, said the conference would enable the nation “to proffer lasting and workable solutions to the bloody lingering crises ravaging the entire polity.’’
“It is a good thing. Nigerians have been yearning for this over the years because there are pending issues that need to be discussed.
“This will give room for Nigerians to voice out their grievances ranging from Niger Delta, Bok o Haram and others,” he said.
According to the don, rather than break up the country, the proposed national conference would strengthen.
“It is more dangerous to keep quiet. If we voice out, issues are dealt with and solutions are tabled.
“Therefore, I want to applaud the president for the wisdom employed in bringing this into actualisation,” he said.
Abosede Adedeji, a lecturer in the Department of Project Management Technology, Federal University of Technology Akure, commended the president for the move.
“I support Mr. President wholeheartedly. Everybody is not happy with the unpleasant issues in Nigeria.
“Nepotism, favouritism and corruption reign supreme everywhere in the country “Consequently, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could not be achieved.
“We have numerous resources which have not been translated to improved standard of living. I foresee revolution if all these problems are not dealt with because so many people are now walking corpses due to the abject poverty in the land,” she said.
Ms. Adedeji expressed the belief that such dialogue would strengthen the unity of the country and further entrench democracy.
“It will bring the best out of Nigeria. It will make us to decide our fate: either to be one or separate,” she said.
Also speaking, Lawrence Amimi, the Director of Arts and Culture, Ondo State Ministry of Culture and Tourism, described the idea of a national conference as long overdue.
“It is very simple, without the national conference, Nigeria as a nation cannot move forward; we should deliberate on the conditions of our living together as a people in a nation.
“Nigeria is not yet a nation, presently, we have different nations within the Nigerian project but when we sit down and talk, the operation we want to achieve should be attainable,” he said.

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