By Nwafor Sunday
Ex-President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has urged Nigerian leaders to implement the 2014 national confab liked and adopted by all the ethnic groups, noting that it would undoubtedly be a palliative measure that would quench fires of agitation from the various ethnic groups in the country.
In his goodwill message at the 5th Integration Summit Roundtable in Abuja on Saturday where he was represented by his media adviser, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, Jonathan said that his administration did not have enough time to implement the conference recommendations, given that the report was submitted to him in August 2014, few months before the next general elections.
“I am aware that some people have raised some issues with the fact that I did not implement the recommendations of the confab during my tenure. I would like to state that those making this kind of claim are not being fair to me. Such people tend to forget that the report was submitted in August 2014, few months before the last general elections. It was at a time that the National Assembly was on break with many of the members already retreating to their different constituencies to prepare their constituents for elections”, he said.
Read his full speech bellow:
GOODWILL MESSAGE BY DR. GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, ON THE OCCASION OF
INTEGRATION SUMMIT ANNUAL ROUNDTABLE, ABUJA, 19 NOVEMBER, 2017
I want to thank the organisers of this Summit, especially Chief Dr. Chris Ekiyor, who is the convener, for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this event.
Let me also appreciate all those who are here today, for their tenacity and interest in the Nigerian project. That you are here today, holding this debate, is a testimony to the fact that you are all as keen as I am in looking for workable solutions that will minimise tension, promote peace and guarantee a better future for our country.
It is for this reason that I convened the 2014 National Conference. I wanted a polity that will work for, and unite our country. The one that will close the gaps being created along tribal, ethnic or religious lines.
Why we have agitations, here and there, is because we are still trying to discover the best way to run our Republic, so that whatever policies we pursue or projects we implement as a nation, will benefit the greatest number of our population.
I am aware that there are many suggestions and solutions been debated. We have different people supporting and giving different definitions to such ideals as true federalism, confederation, restructuring and regionalism. But we have not been able to achieve much because our conversations seem to be floating in the air. We are yet to establish the necessary common grounds and shared values.
We should not forget that ours is a nation with a striking ethnic and religious mix. This diversity should otherwise be our strength.
However, it appears to be holding us down because of our failure to consolidate a strategic roadmap for harnessing the advantages that should lift our nation.
My belief is that we need to redefine our dialogue and move quickly from over-theorisation to something tangible. My own way of solving the problem was the 2014 National Conference which I convened.
It was a conclusion I reached in my mind about the best way to productively leverage the diverse tendencies of our different ethnic groups, to allow the centre to firmly hold for the good of our nation.
The National Conference brought together various ethnic, religious and social groups to deliberate and decide by themselves how best to run our federation. The goal was to provide answers to our questions and establish the kind of peace that will bring about sustainable development and prosperity in Nigeria.
There were about 500 members, young and old, from all walks of life who were given the opportunity to thoroughly discuss and agree on every issue that agitated our minds on the suitability of Nigeria’s federal structure. Their mandate was to discuss and advice on all matters pertaining to our nationhood, with the corporate existence of our nation being the only exception.
I received the report of the National Conference on Thursday August 21, 2014, after the closing ceremony to mark the end of the five-month long deliberations. I was satisfied with the outcome. It has remained the best national conference so far because of the depth of the deliberations and the fact that all the decisions reached were not based on majority votes, but by consensus.
It was a conference that was designed to shape our future. Its outcome was meant to be of benefit to the future generation of Nigerians. Contrary to the claims in some quarters, the conference was not designed for my own gain or for the immediate benefit of the participants.
I believe that those entrusted with the responsibilities to formulate policies or make laws should take the kind of decisions that should outlive them, not the ones designed to deliver instant profits to them.
I believe the recommendations of the confab contain the answers to most of what we agitate for today. If implemented, they would go a long way in solving most of Nigeria’s identified structural problems, and providing the roadmap for sustainable development.
I am aware that some people have raised some issues with the fact that I did not implement the recommendations of the confab during my tenure. I would like to state that those making this kind of claim are not being fair to me. Such people tend to forget that the report was submitted in August 2014, few months before the last general elections. It was at a time that the National Assembly was on break with many of the members already retreating to their different constituencies to prepare their constituents for elections.
I believe that to have a tidy procedure of implementation, it would have involved committee deliberations, public hearings and town hall consultations on different segments of the report. There is no doubt that the nation then needed up to one year to complete the processes of implementing the recommendations.
It was obvious that my administration, given the time the report was submitted, couldn’t have implemented the report, before the 2015 elections, without running into ethical questions.