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Confab of discordant concord

By Chioma Gabriel
Of course, we saw the handwriting on the wall before the inauguration. It was obvious that there would be more questions than answers. One would have been surprised had things happened differently. In fact, one cannot say for sure that President Jonathan had not anticipated this.

Perhaps , those who suspected  that the whole agenda was to cause distraction were not far from the truth and if that was Jonathan’s mindset, his advisers  should be clinking glasses with him for a job well done.

President Goodluck Jonathan flanked by Vice President Namadi Sambo and the Conference Chairman, Justice Legbo Kutigi  (4r) while the Speaker TIONAL CONFERENCE House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal (3l); Vice Chairman of the Conference, Prof. Boolaji Akinyemi (3r); Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Aloma Mukhtar (4l) and other dignitaries watched in a group photograph with delegates after the inauguration of the 2014 National Conference of the People of Nigeria at the National Judicial Institute, Airport Road, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida 17/03/2014
President Goodluck Jonathan flanked by Vice President Namadi Sambo and the Conference Chairman, Justice Legbo Kutigi… File photo

The lines are falling for him in pleasant places going by the direction of this confab. With the limited time given for it to wrap up, nothing conclusive would likely come out of it if the delegates continue on the same page they have started. At this point, one believes the issue of consensus  should  have  been  a no-go area and that being so, we can as well say, ‘to your tents oh delegates!’

If the President’s intention is ideally to seek solutions to the problems afflicting Nigeria since 1914 to date, it is certain the confab will look at Nigeria even before 1914 because these issues were clearly entrenched before the amalgamation. Nigerians are strange siblings of strange parents and that is the hard and soft of it.

So, will these delegates with a penchant for  adjourning  at the slightest provocation be able to address the multifaceted problems that have besieged the country? Will these delegates  achieve anything towards  building a more  united, progressive and prosperous nation?

If the President said this confab is coming at a very appropriate time, after the celebration of Nigeria’s   first centenary, where will Nigeria be at the end of the confab? Where will the wind blow Nigeria?

If Nigeria is what it is before the confab, where do we think we will be at the end of the confab?  Will there be visible improvements? What difference will the confab make?

Other nations that know us more than we know ourselves have already foreseen that Nigeria may not survive 2015 because she is like a house built on sand, not a house on the rock and we think they are prophets of doom. We always try to equate our country with others who started and had the same challenges we are  now having, but the problem is, are we approaching the solutions the way they approached theirs?

Other countries which today we refer to as developed countries had their teething problems  and they overcame tactically. There was a time when  bomb attacks were rampant in the United kingdom like Boko Haram is doing in Nigeria and terrorists are doing in many countries today , but what is not yet clear is why we haven’t tried to follow their approach to solutions. Will the confab pave the way? Or has Boko Haram  nominated or elected delegates to the on-going confab? It’s possible they have delegates too going by the way the confab started.

Don’t blame anybody who is  perceiving some  Boko Haramic tendencies!

Even some of the delegates perceived same. Sister Florence  Ita- Giwa is on the same page with me on this matter. She equally observed that some of the delegates are part of the problems Nigeria is facing.  And many of the delegates are simply there to  stoke conflicts.
Or what do you expect when things like  flower vests  kept in front of Kutigi could create controversy and needed to be removed for some people to have  direct eye contact with delegates on the floor?
There were even insinuations that some delegates might have slept ‘under the bridge’ since many did not have hotel accommodations and some were going to Abuja for the first time.

And don’t reckon without those who went  there to seek permanent jobs for their  aides, drivers, and other personal assistants.

Who would expect a firebrand like Pastor Tunde Bakare to keep quiet when Islamic prayer was being offered instead of a uniformed prayer. A pastor could start a praise worship or even a vigil and Nigerians know how to shout Allelua !
What also appeared obvious was that many delegates forgot that all animals are equal but some are more equal than others. Therefore, the less equal ones   who arrived early must  vacate their seats for elder statesmen and monarchs who came  in late. We are Nigerians and we must respect our elders!
So, you see, there are  many strong things!

One must therefore understand why  there would still be as many adjournments as we have had two in less than two weeks!

But will this sun kere, fa kere confab lay a  solid foundation for faster development as anticipated by Jonathan? Will these delegates map out a gateway for an inclusive national consensus on the structure and guiding principles of state that will guarantee Nigeria’s emergence as a more united, progressive and prosperous nation?

For a country that has weathered so much storm and with a checkered history as a political entity,  will this go-slow confab achieve much at its end of three months? Or should there be an extension to six months?

When it reconvenes, will it continue debates and arguments (and maybe exchange of blows) on the 75% or 2/3 consensus. That could dominate the scene for the next one month, until maybe, President Jonathan or the national assembly comes out to tell the conference the way to go.

Those who think  we have more inconsequential things dividing us than strong things binding us  are not really far from the truth but the fact of the matter is that these inconsequential things are also the strong things and all these must be spelled  out at inception to know whether the confab should continue or whether the delegates should all go home and leave the national assembly to do the job constitutionally foisted on them.

But you  cannot just dismiss anything like that. Since N12million has been mentioned somewhere, before any further adjournment, they should just make sure each  delegate’s purse is loaded so that in the wind of adjournments, the N12million does not enter  any voice-mail or gets blown away by the wind.

Methinks also that if the N12million lands inside pockets, tension will reduce. Instead of fighting, many will be thinking about how to put the money to use rather than agitating unnecessarily over issues that don’t matter.

There would be more consensus under ‘favourable’ circumstances and less debates and arguments. Many opposition voices will die down and ‘business’ will commence ‘seriously’ and also  without further  adjournments. The twin issues of 75%  or 2/3 will never crop up again and the foundation will be laid for united delegates.

Each delegate had reportedly gotten N1.4 million  as at Saturday, 22nd day of March, 2014 as “ preamble allowances” of the Conferees but I think all the money must be paid at once if there must be progress. But permit me, I’m not joining issues with anybody alleging that the  N7 billion  is borrowed. That shouldn’t be an issue  at all.

But don’t reckon without somebody coming up with the issue of more money. This is Nigeria. That too is a guarantee I can bet on. As already seen, it’s going to be a confab of adjournments and that technically could extend the tenure beyond three months. Inadvertently or otherwise, that would create room for further spending.

The delegates should have the fun of their lives while it lasts. Nobody should just wake up one day to  disturb the peace of 492 Nigerians, inviting them to be delegates at  a ‘come-and -chop’ confab without bearing the consequences.

But what must be must be.

Ce qui doit être, doit être .

Willie Obiano: In Obi’s big shoes


The other day, some people were asking if Gov Willie Obiano has had any baptism of fire since assumption of office. This according to a school of thought is necessary so that he does not become like some state governors who are so lack-lustre that you’d wonder if their states still exist.

A baptism of fire would shake a technocrat who got into office almost on a platter of gold back to reality.

Anambra State before Peter Obi who handed over to Obiano was a political war zone. Peter Obi didn’t get into power with ease. But Obiano did and hence many opine he needs to have  a rattling experience that will remind him not to dose for a minute. The crisis in Obosi seems to have died down and he shouldn’t let it happen again.

Anambra people are expecting so much from him because to whom much is given, much is expected and uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

Nobody should ‘sleep’ on duty because of the prevailing peace.

Many people did not understand how  Peter Obi did it but Obiano’s administration owes Anambra people substantial dividends for many reasons. One, there was a smooth transition through a peaceful election. Nobody was caught with gallons of fuel trying to set any place ablaze during the election and nobody was taken to any shrine( Okija inclusive) to swear to any oath.

Let’s believe the allegation about signing an agreement to pay a certain monthly allowance running into millions to a certain party chieftain was pure  campaign of calumny. That should be the handiwork of his political enemies.

Former  Governor Peter Obi laid a solid  foundation for financial discipline in the state  as well as a tremendous legacy of humble public service and Willie Obiano should toe same line or improve on this legacy!

In politics, the pathway is littered with broken friendships and if anybody has coerced anybody into  doing strange things, such ungodly agreements should be jettisoned with immediate effect!

Anambra people still expect a humble man in the mold of Peter Obi. However, idiosyncrasies must be respected.

There are many educated people from the state such as Emeka Anyaoku, Dora Akunyili, Alex Ekwueme, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife and a lot of young professionals in different spheres of life.

The people are supportive but they want development and a governor they can relate with. And he who humbles himself will be exalted and vice-versa.This has been seen from the report card of the immediate past governor who humbled himself and God lifted him. A word is enough for the wise.

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