By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Lawyer and politician, Senator Timothy Adudu was recently appointed into the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue with the expectation of tapping his experience as a former senator and skills as a lawyer to navigate the discordant tunes in the polity on the Nigeria question.
Senator Adudu was in the Senate between 2003 and 2007 during which time he was a rallying point for the Digitals as the younger and seemingly more radical senators of that era were known. In this interview, Senator Adudu who has since his exit from the Senate added academic degrees in arbitration responds to questions on the desirability of a national conference and the workings of his committee. Excerpts:
What was your reaction to your appointment into this body?
It is something that I am delighted about because I have always believed that since things have gone wrong in the country, we need to dialogue and if the president deemed it fit that I should be one of the personalities to set it rolling, then it is a national call that I am well prepared to do.
Some believe that it is all a trick by the presidency?
If there is anything that tends to suggest that directly or indirectly, I would not be a party to it. I will not participate. I believe that the president is very sincere in his call for a dialogue. I call on Nigerians to come out, believe in it and participate for us to channel a course for the future of our country.
What is your impression from the states you have so far visited?
The turnout has been quite impressive. We started from Akure and the turnout was very, very impressive. We went to Minna it was the same, we went to Jos it was overwhelming and that tends to suggest that Nigerians are willing to dialogue. So, I believe that as we go round it is going to gather momentum. So far so good.
What is your expectation from this process?
At this point in time it would be pre-emptive to speculate, but from the response we have seen, Nigerians are ready to make their statements, ready to take their destiny into their own hands and it is the preponderance of what they want done that we are going to reflect in our report as a committee when we are making our recommendations to Mr. President.
Some fear that your recommendations may not be acceptable?
When we get to the bridge we will cross it. But I want you to read the body language of Mr. President. It is about the first time that he has said that there will be no no-go areas; in other words, there will be no barricades. If you remember at the inauguration he said that he has left even the issue of nomenclature open and that we should decide, we should recommend what nomenclature we would be giving to the conference.
If you also consider the time frame he wants us to submit our report, it is expected that he is going to act upon it very expeditiously. He has not elongated the time and he has given a time frame which I am sure we are likely to meet up with.
If you also look at the personalities that form the committee, you will see that we have men of integrity and you can say to a large extent it is non partisan and each and every member of the committee is an accomplished Nigerian in his own way, men of integrity, men that you can hardly easily question their integrity.
So, I believe that it is a serious business, it is a serious call and we must all respond.
The fact that the outcome of the proposed national conference would be submitted to the National Assembly has elicited comments that the conference would be a toothless bulldog?
What you have to appreciate is that this is a general motion towards a dialogue and if you are discussing, there are bound to be give and take.
You cannot at this moment say that you foreclose this aspect or that this is how it is going to be. We must appreciate that we are not acting in vacuum, there are institutional bodies in place which no matter what we do, we cannot lose sight of those institutions.
Having said that, we must appreciate that if two people have agreed to dialogue, there are bound to be give and take in certain ways.
So, what the outcome is going to be I wouldn’t want to say now, it might be, it might not. Why I say so is that, since it is dialogue people would come to the negotiating table, dialogue, have a conference and agree on certain parameters.
What are the concessions that are going to be made? I wouldn’t know. What are the proposals that are going to be made? I wouldn’t know.
That it has to go to the National Assembly, yes, I agree with that. But if you sit down with the stakeholders, and don’t forget that we visited the National Assembly and that they are partners with us in this exercise and what I want you to appreciate is that by the time we all sit down, we might agree on certain parameters which I wouldn’t know what that might be. So, it may be, it may be not but at the end of the day, what we want to see is a situation whereby all stakeholders, Nigerians and all stakeholders agree on the way forward.
So, following these consultations what would be the next phase of your assignment?
The next phase of our assignment is for us to draw our conclusions, make our recommendations and submit to the President in accordance to our terms of reference.
So, Nigerians should come out en-masse and participate in the exercise because it is an opportunity that we should take seriously to fashion out our destiny. We must come out to chart a course for our future.
Nigeria is bigger than an individual and we must rally round the President to give him support because this is something that I believe that a cross section of Nigerians have always clamoured for. Inspite of all that have happened, I think we have a future and our future would be much better if we sit down to dialogue.