How purpose-driven were the 2014 confab delegates?


“It is regrettable and unpardonable that the top echelons of the northern elite who ought to be polishing Yar’Adua’s credentials for a post-mortem award of a global peace diadem are the same ones desecrating his memory and vilifying his compatriot, Goodluck Jonathan. History will not forgive these short-sighted ingrates.” Professor G.G. Darah ‘Dancing on the Abacha, Yar Aduas Graves,’ The Guardian July 17-18, 2014.

The bickerings which arose out of the 2014 confab by many delegates further proved the suspicion: that the delegates didn’t go to the conference to dialogue, to appeal to sense of right and wrong, but they went on a war mission, to attack other regions fiercely. I read too many put-down pieces by delegates to the confab and heard radio interviews that were derogatory during and after the exercise. The speech-mark above – was borne out of the experience of a delegate to the national confab and revealed the level of disunity in Nigeria. While some observers who are eternal optimist had hoped, that the talks would end the high level of bitterness in Nigeria it grotesquely did not.

How were these delegates, therefore, without quarrel able to agree for the creation of 18 additional states in Nigeria? While I see some sense for the creation of a state like Gurara, I couldn’t understand why states should be created for homogeneous people. In a country where states can’t pay salaries. I have had to in the past wonder – why Jigawa should be created out of Kano, yet delegates went ahead to recommend the creation of Ghari state from the present Kano State. Kainji from Kebbi.

Ijebu from Ogun State, Ose from Ondo and New Oyo from Oyo State as well as others from the South-East. Maybe they should have studied the works of Chief Obafemi Awolowo as it concerns state creation for the minority people in a federal system. Who knows? They might not have bothered to make allowances for the creation of states for people who are homogeneous in language and culture. Is Apa State from Benue needed because of the subjugation of the Idoma by the Tiv in that state? This has put to light the fact that the ‘other side’ may not be responsible for the ills of ‘this side’ all of the time. Why the Tiv deal brutally with the Idoma, leaves me exasperated.

The delegates also arrived at the decision to establish state police? With which funds? If the federal police can apprehend “Evans,” then with proper funding and training they can provide security in a 360 degree manner. To compliment their efforts, government needs to give licence to private security firms under the close supervision of retired top-ranking military and police officers to carry arms and protect private citizens. Under the watch of the government and IGP. This will free the federal police from the burden of looking after private citizens to contributing efforts on fighting crime. We love merry-go-round a lot in Nigeria and do not settle for the big issues. We were in this country when President Goodluck Jonathan held the reigns of power: the South-East and South-South never bothered about restructuring. Their “son” was in power. Now that a Fulani is in power, restructuring is a hot potato. But it isn’t a hot potato for the South Western government because their “son” shares that power with the Fulani. The first time in our history that two sub-national groups formed a party and won an election.

These kinds of debit-limit brickmanship doesn’t develop a country. Aside from mouthing restructuring and resource-control, no-one seems interested in planning how to establish local industries for internal consumption first and then possibly expand our market to the West African sub-region. “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” Bob Dylan sang. Instead of listing the distribution of minerals and their locations in Nigeria, the delegates should have shared knowledge, intelligence with each other enough to let Nigerians know that unlike crude oil which is exported to be processed and imported, a crying-shame, these minerals would be processed in-country to provide jobs to starving Nigerians, build the internal company before talks of exportation.

While many people have faith in the Confab report. I do not. The reason is simple: Some Nigerians at some corner and bend were not mobilised for the confab. Bargaining and compromises weren’t reached with all parties and the opposition was not courted.

Cooperative routine for nationalism was a model that was over-looked. This speech-mark below buttresses the point above: “in his handover process, President Jonathan specifically enjoined his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari to diligently implement the approved report of the National Conference in order to promote good governance, rapid economic development, security and stability in Nigeria. I would like to add by affirming that President Buhari’s administration can only ignore the report of the Conference at its own peril. In any case, judging from the current mood in the country, there is hope that even if President Buhari demurs in the implementation of the Confab report, the Nigerian people will restructure the country by whatever means necessary.”
Abah wrote from Port Harcourt.

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Goodluck Jonathan
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