NIGERIA runs on paradoxes. We cannot ignore them as we impress it on all sides contending for the future of Nigeria that it is impossible to change Nigeria without discussing the directions of the future.
For more than three decades, the most frequently mouthed solution to Nigeria’s woes has been a national conference. The agenda remain the preserve of those, who promote it. They claim Nigeria was built on constitutional structures that put so much power at the centre without considering the fragility of foundations that bear the weight.
The interpretations should not be viewed in isolation. Nigerians are not new to talks, from constitutional conferences under Britain to domestic constitutional conferences, the last being the one of Gen. Sani Abacha’s in 1995. The Justice Oputa Panel that President Olusegun Obasanjo set up 12 years ago, to examine rights violations through Nigeria’s history, was another effort to get Nigerians to discuss their country.
Contending forces used the platforms to foist their interests and themselves on Nigeria. The country has been the worse for the consistent advancement of personal interests, under the cloak of sectional concerns.
One of the paradoxes of Nigeria is the concentration on personal opinion to the point of stone deafness to other views. How can we talk when we set off refusing to listen to each other? How could we have spent many decades professing that the future of Nigeria laid in discussing how we should live together, yet we attack suggestions that we should talk?
Some are questioning the motive. Others are condemning the timing. We guess that the most important opposition is founded on the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan is calling the conference. We should not condemn the move for the sake of maintaining our stance as opposition.
A nation has opportunities to improve itself. Once they are wasted, what the opposition parades as patriotism would over time be seen for its worth, if any. We have been through that, and we should not repeat ourselves.
Nigeria missed a great opportunity in January 1967 when the events that cascaded to a crisis that torn the country apart failed to impress it on the leaders that negotiations, talks, discussions, contemplations about Nigeria’s future were more important than what they wanted for themselves.
The failure of our leaders to implement the 1967 Aburi Accord, which each side gave a different interpretation, was possibly the greatest single factor that led to the civil war. Nigeria lost the chance of setting off without the challenges of managing oil and its intractable distractions.
We are better off negotiating Nigeria than wallowing in disagreements over our future. Time is running out on Nigeria and selfish leaders.