LAST week, I outlined three different perspectives on the National Conference:
1.My personal view, which is that the National Conference is likely to be an expensive waste of time for various reasons,
2.The view of a distinguished delegate – Atedo Peterside, Founder & Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC – who opposes the status quo and feels that the National Conference can lead to positive change and
3.The view of a PDP Senator who is convinced that the National Conference will embarrass President Jonathan by highlighting his shortcomings.
I asked Vanguard readers which viewpoint they favoured. Here are some of the responses I received.
*From: Ifeka Okonkwo <email@example.com>
My thoughts on the forthcoming National Conference
Donu, it is very disheartening and annoying that almost all those Nigerians who fed fat on our resources since the ’70s till date, either through the barrel of the gun, ballot box or appointments, have been nominated to represent us at the National Conference.
How could they change a system of government that made them to be richer than our country to a less expensive system of government, how could they make laws that would hang treasury looters? How could they change an unjust society where our prisons, police cells and police detention centers, are full of only poor people, while on the other hand those Nigerians who stole our country blind, are free as the air flaunting and enjoying their ill-gotten wealth unabashedly before our very eyes?
Will they change our system of governance that has been turned into a relay race, whereby those who came to power through rigged elections hand over the baton of governance to their chosen successors who will cover their tracks by not probing them and the vicious cycle continues, as our votes do not really count? Will they bring about a Constitution where no one will be above the laws of our country or be treated as sacred cows that are untouchable by our laws?
Finally, will they be patriotic to change our expensive system of government where 74% of the federal budget goes into recurrent expenditure, bulk of which is expended as salaries and allowances of our over-bloated political class and part of the remaining 26%, is regrettably pounced upon as vultures by unscrupulous Nigerians to enrich themselves all the more, thereby leaving our country to be in such a quagmire, stunted growth and still crawling like a baby?
It is quite unfair that the Anambra State House of Assembly, has approved a monthly pension of N9 million for Mr. Peter Obi who never enhanced our pension, despite the fact that aged, sick and dying pensioners were subjected to several excruciating verification processes that did not yield any dividends for the hapless pensioners, throughout his eight-year tenure! Our new colonisers and oppressors have indeed turned our richly blessed country into a big “Animal Farm” to their tremendous benefit, period! That is the tragedy of our country!
From: Alao Alex A <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Donu, the conference is necessary and urgent but very badly timed and organised. President G.E. Jonathan was reported earlier as saying the national issues were resolved in 1914!
Unfortunately what we are having now is a GEJ conference not a national conference. No law backing it and government is paying the bill. A correct national conference the NASS will not rubbish is that fully funded by the represented groups. Its sovereignty is therefore derived and cannot be debated.
Truly the government will be shocked at the turn of events despite the above. GEJ is not showing enough statesmanship to give Nigeria the right conference. A golden opportunity to be a founder of a New Nigeria had been wasted.
Thus, the three viewpoints are correct to some extent.
*From “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I’m pessimistic about the National Conference. Even though there are some credible persons among the delegates, the sheer multitude of the non-credible will drown their voices.
Like you said, we all know what our problems are; another purposeless talk-shop will do us no good; even more so is the fact that some of the delegates contributed to our being where we are today. They are mostly all “have-beens” who are fighting for what little relevance they can garner and at the cost of N7billion!
What in hell are they buying?! My view has always been that leadership is sacrifice and responsibility, so if these nominees really care, they will work at minimum wage! No fancy hotels or chauffeured vehicles! Cut cost from every angle, it’s about time we started running Nigeria like a business and not like a charity.
The national and state houses of assembly should follow this model as well; they should get jobs and buy fuel like other citizens; no more bleeding the nation and tax payers.
+2348062322295 Mikefe Tanno
Donu, certainly we need to fix up our country, but there is no quick-fix option via a so-called national conference of three months?
The timing is patently dishonest. I propose we set up a National Conference Institute, a think-tank for the ethnic nationalities, professional groups, labour and civil societies, etc, to have a collegiate forum where the many dysfuctionalities of our country can be discussed and realistic solutions proffered. Has the government issued a white paper on the report Atedo Peterside talked about? However, I am of the opinion that Mr. Peterside is absolutely being ridiculous in his hackneyed criticisms of the President’s kitchen cabinet. The honest truth about Nigeria is that the Nigerian establishment is depraved and intellectually lazy. How can any serious Nigerian tell the President to remove PMS subsidy now? What kind of solution would that create?
I am Ernest Obi from Okapi community, in Ndokwa East LGA of Delta State. President Goodluck Jonathan took a very bold and democratic step by calling for the national conference. It is obvious that the prevailing challenging national issues cannot be effectively handled by the National Assembly due to existing ethnic loyalty and sentiments.
No personal agenda
For Mr. President to have taken the bold step of allowing different ethnic, professional and religious groups to freely choose their own delegates to the National Conference is an indication that he has no personal agenda to protect. Hence, I see it as character assassination for anyone to speculate or claim that the outcome of the national conference will be tailored to fulfill the perceived personal agenda of the President. People are only going there to discuss Nigeria’s future and not that of Mr President.
Dear Donu, I want to use this opportunity to agree with viewpoint Number 3. The reasons are as follows: 1, Nigeria needs restructuring as regards the enthronement of real fiscal federalism, devolution of power and regional autonomy. With these in place the systemic corruption in the country would be highly reduced, the concept of oil subsidy will totally be phased out as some of the states or regions will invest in the establishment of refineries and thus, reduce the importation of refined oil products and finally all cases of illegal mining of solid minerals’ will be a thing of the past as the states or regions will look deeper on how to be independent economically.