Helloooo, National Conference Delegates
Almost everybody in Nigeria and even elsewhere knows that this is not the best of time for the most populous black nation on earth. From allegations and counter allegations of corruption and sleaze hovering around nearly all government departments and parastatals to kidnappings and the constant wanton killing of innocent people by the invisible dreaded sect known as Boko Haram, all has not been well with a country that recently marked its 100 years of existence. The centenary celebration itself was observed at a time when majority of Nigerians at home and in diaspora were mourning the death of innocent young students dastardly killed by this sect at a federal government college in Yobe State. It has been orgies of fear and pain for Nigerians since these insurgencies started. Ominous signs continue to favour the United States’ prediction that there may be no nation known as Nigeria on earth anymore by the year 2015. What looks like a balm that can soothe all those silly aches afflicting Nigeria is the coming National Conference. Yet, some people willy-nilly wrote it off as another jamboree where huge money would be wasted and nothing good would be achieved. They pointed to other such conferences held before and concluded that it is a ploy to perfect a hidden agenda. While some of those in this category have since changed their mind in its favour, some are still holding on to their stance. What is clear is that majority of Nigerians are subscribed to holding the conference because they see it as the way forward.
One of those who eagerly want the conference to hold is Mr. Ayodeji Olaleye, a very brilliant and vocal intellectual discussant from the youth wing of a think tank forum called Ekitipanupo. That forum parades arrays of current and former Vice Chancellors, Emeritus and still-in-service erudite Professors, eminent and seasoned professionals like medical doctors, lawyers, media practitioners etc. In that bracket are men and women in their 20s up to those in their 80s. As should be expected, discussions in this kind of forum are always very hot especially when the topic bothers on politics. But this gentleman, even when not in agreement with you in a discourse, would make his points intelligently showing respect for you and for all the other members of the forum. He displayed that same attitude a few days ago when the issue of those who would represent Ekiti State at the coming National Conference was on the table for discussion in that forum. The bone of contention was that one of those being selected to represent Ekiti in the conference is in his eighties while some are from either religious or traditional institutions and that such people may not be strong or rugged enough to be able to withstand the rigors of such a conference. In his contribution to the debate, Mr. Olaleye wrote:
“The conference no doubt requires a lot of energy and physical demands from the word go. A lot of aggressive debate, fighting, exchange of hot and rude insults, meetings before meetings, meetings after meetings outside of the conference in the evenings. There would be overnight scheming, alliances, compromises, networking with other conference members from other states and regions to find areas of common interest, strategising, long standing, long sitting, long personal use of screen and digital equipments for personal searches and researches to improve oneself. These are too much for elderly people.
For everything that is wrong with Nigeria, there are millions of people in every strata of the society benefitting from such wrongness. This National conference is not a national peace and reconciliation meeting. We are going there to fight ethnic imbalance, lopsided federalism, collapsed systems, accuse/challenge one and other, plugging the holes of waste, sealing the drainage where national wealth are being raided.
This means we need to fight and fine tuned the system that over empowers the President and Governors, that over remunerate the political office holders (particularly executives and Legislators) at the detriment of tax payers. As a matter of fact ditch the Fiscal Revenue Mobilisation Committee that fixes such salaries. We need to condemn and attack salary disparity in Nigeria. The gap between incomes of certain professionals is too wide to others and it is not that they did not attend the same University. We are fighting the INEC, ISEC and all the electoral systems; they are full of frauds at federal and state levels. The powers of the President and Governors to unilaterally constitute election bodies must be sliced at the conference, similarly the powers of the President in appointing the Minister for Justice, Inspector General of Police and CBN Governor must be trimmed to allow critical stakeholders’ involvements so that the President arrogance can be reduced and be comparable to those of Obama and Cameron.
Same thing must be done at State levels. Elected executives must not be emperor like. President and Governors and the legislators must be told to always respect Police, Military and other intelligent services. Politicians and their aides often rush to issuing press statements on security and sensitive issues in Nigeria. That must stop with serious consequences. The offices of the Chief Press Secretary, Chief of Staff have overstepped their boundaries in Nigeria often encroaching into the spaces of Commissioner/minister of information, Head of Service and Secretary to the Government. That abuse must stop. Commercial Banking in Nigeria makes too much profit that cannot be justified against global practices. Their charges are too much. It is too friendly to suspicious and questionable huge deposits.”
Certainly, Mr. Olaleye’s submission as shown above cannot be taken as a layout agenda for any conference. But going by the dictates of his submission to that forum, it is clear that he is not happy because many things are wrong with Nigeria at present that need to be corrected urgently. There are still some other issues troubling Nigeria that are not raised by Mr. Olaleye in his submission for the Confab. For instance, in Dr Anthony Akinola’s essay published recently, he tried to compare Presidential system of government with Parliamentary system where he wrote: “There is no doubt that the parliamentary system is great, even superior to the presidential alternative in some respects. It is much less expensive to manage, as it also compels greater accountability on the part of political actors. It invites great admiration when observed from a mature political culture where principles and policies triumph. Sadly, ours is far from being one. Religion and region compete and contend. The “informal coalition” of disparage interests, engendered by the presidential constitution, offers a greater prospect for peace in severely-divided Nigeria. The agitation for a return to the parliamentary system, if prevailed, can only mean a return to another era of ethnic confrontation.”
While I agree with Dr Akinola where he gave Parliamentary system an edge over Presidential system of government, I beg to disagree with the versatile author and writer where he said a return to Parliamentary system will take Nigeria back to regional or ethnic politics. Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s led Unity party of Nigeria was formed under a Presidential system of government in the second republic. Even though the party had as members, eminent personalities like Chief Ajuluchukwu and Chief Philip Umeadi from the East and Alhaji Kura Muhammad, Shehu Abdullahi Bayero and Alhaji Shehu Shanono from the North, election results showed his followership was only visible in the Southwest. Again, the Alliance for Democracy can safely be described as a sectional party because it did not win any governorship election outside the Southwest yet it was formed under a Presidential system of government. Formation of All Progressives Congress is possible as well under a Parliamentary system of government in Nigeria if opposition parties to PDP could realise, as they just did, that it is only a big party that can confront the PDP.
However, the outcome of the National Conference is definitely going to make or mar Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s legacy as a Nigerian President. As I said in a previous article, if this conference can resolve most of the myriad of problems retarding the glory of Nigeria as a country, the President would have his place in history as one who is not popular but in spite of all odds managed to write his name in gold. The ball is in his court.
Olusina Akeredolu is the Executive Director of Detainees & Indigent Help Center.
By: Olusina Akeredolu