BY GABRIEL EWEPU
SINCE President Goodluck Jonathan made u-turn on national conference and set up a 13-man committee led by Senator Femi Okurounmu, to work out modalities for holding the dialogue, the polity has been awash with mixed views concerning the necessity or otherwise of the exercise.
Among those, who have opposed the idea and argued that it was tied to 2015 polls are All Progressives Congress (APC) Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Senator Babafemi Ojudu and some lawyers among others.
Those on the side of the President include Chief Ebenezer Babatope, former Minister of Transport and member of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Cliff Mbagwu, Evangelist Elliot Uko and some eminent Nigerians. Contributing to the debate, Mr. Christopher Onwukwe, said if the national conference can help arrest the current challenges plaguing the nation he was in support.
“If the national dialogue can tackle our present challenges as a nation, I support Mr. President’s sense of reasoning and concern. You know it is become has become a nightmare in our country as we have continued to live with the menace of insecurity; terrorism, kidnapping, and incessant strikes in virtually all the sectors, unemployment, power, and among others.
“That is why the national conference is needed, in order for every segment of the Nigerian society to meet and iron out these national problems staring at us. I hope it will be a solution to the challenges we have now and those who will represent us will tackle these issues on our behalf.
“My advice to those who will represent each state or ethnic group is that they should consult with people who are not politicians in their domain and report back to Mr. President. And I see this national conference addressing any negative occurrence in 2015 election,” Onwukwe added.
Meanwhile, a civil servant, Mr. Daniel Otodo, said: “For me, national conference will make no impact neither in the present economic realities in the country, nor in the future because all will end up in arguments and waste of time and resources.
“If the President still wants the conference to go on and Nigerians support it, let it be done at the local government level, like the town hall meeting. This will give the people at that level the opportunity to speak on what they feel in their own language, then to the state level before the federal level,” Otodo suggested.
There have been several national conferences before now, what those conferences could not address and solve include insecurity, marginalisation, ethno-religious crises, poverty, abuse of human rights, inequality, poverty, revenue generation, epileptic power supply, unemployment, impunity by political and religious leaders, corruption, political and religious violence and electoral offences.
Others include collapsed socio-economic infrastructure, environmental degradation, suspicion, fear and kidnapping among others.
The inability of past efforts to resolve these challenges raises the question: what can this national confab change? Only time will tell.