Nigeria: The Ole’ Peoples Home called National Confab is about to close

A subject that cannot be freely discussed will not have quick closure. It pays to put all cards on the table. A deferred discourse prolongs the problem.

During Nigeria’s Independence Day celebrations last year, President Goodluck Jonathan caught many by surprise when he announced the setting up of a new National Dialogue Conference.

"Fellow Nigerians,” he said, “our Administration has taken cognizance of suggestions over the years by well-meaning Nigerians on the need for a National Dialogue on the future of our beloved country. I am an advocate of dialogue. When there are issues that stoke tension and bring about friction, it makes perfect sense for the interested parties to come together to discuss.”

Seven days later, he established a 13-person committee to work out the structure the national conference should take, and gave the body a six-week deadline to come up with suggestions.

The Committee went everywhere but the moon, fought itself and people, got more time than given, and after a series of talkshops, a larger body of delegates was convened. That body is at the tail end of its business, and kindly note the word “business”, because that is largely all it has done, its own business, at the expense of Nigeria’s business.

Painfully, a friend, called it an “old peoples’ home” with a few lads that do not even know the country they were/are to reshape.

So this larger group with more time, have spent billions, broken into expert committees, bickered over who was allowed to talk, and who was left out, they have at many points not seemed any different than the National Assembly.

They have fought over how money should be shared, complained about their food, discussed the age of political participants, suggested and rejected a new name for Nigeria. Delegates have slept at points, played solitaire on their PCs, and chewed kolanuts.

They have clowned about which is the best National Anthem, on what should happen regain Land Use Act, refused to reach any conclusion on fiscal federalism that is unique, they have suggested sentencing XYZ to death for ABC crimes.

They have accused each other, “I understand you flogged a teacher Nwachukwu, and you Odili, you have the best hospital in Abuja, and me Victor Atah, I know the problem of local governments, ‘cause when I was governor…, and do you know census figures were cooked….bla bla bla.

At point, women threatened boycott for reasons of ‘hmmm’, and then a delegate stopped from beating up another for reasons of ‘aaagh’. Add this to the new constitution circulated, or the fact the body does not really know what and how its numerous suggestions and recommendation will be carried.

For all it is worth, again we have talked, shouted and communed with each other, it is not entirely a bad step, but the direction has and remains suspect.

In the year 2000, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Senior Advocate of the Masses put it in a very clear way, "The primary duty of the Sovereign National Conference is to address and find solutions to the key problems afflicting Nigeria since 1914 to date.

The concern is to remove all obstacles which have prevented the country from establishing political justice, economic justice, social justice, cultural justice, religious justice and to construct a new constitutional frame-work in terms of the system of government-structurally, politically economically, socially, culturally and religiously."

The Sovereign National Conference will give ethnic nationalities an opportunity to examine the questions that have made Nigeria such a disaster and come up with some answers such as the right of every nationality to have greater control over their resources.

For many of us cautious optimist, I had believed that the primary duty of the National Conference, sovereign or un-sovereign would have been the above, although I have equally said that a sound legislative body would have spared us the agony of all the extra-committee bodies.

As the latest conference draws to an end, I dare say with empty barrels, it has done nothing regarding receive and deliberate upon ‘all’ grievances and whether contained in memoranda or letter from individuals or groups within and outside Nigeria.

Did they discuss and deliberate on everything under the sun with regards to Nigeria and how to preserve the country in which Nigerians will have fulfillment of their hopes and aspirations.

In other words, a Nigeria where every ethnic group will find succour; and where the masses, the neglected, the persecuted, the deprived and the cheated will find solace.

In short, has this group come anywhere close to rebuilding the country called Nigeria from scratch and to establish a new constitutional structure for a new Nigeria, beyond all the politico talk, based on ethnic factors and religion.  Have they done any considerable economic restructuring?

Or they have added to the cost of governance in Nigeria. Brought about more government in Nigeria; with the theorem that we bake more cake simply by subdividing the same cake into smaller and smaller slices. Carving out more states in Nigeria, creating more bodies, and staus quo remains.

So in truth after several weeks, dozens of breaks, a few deaths, prominent being that of Dora Akunyili, all the standing and sitting ovations, accusations and counter, threats by the Adamawa monarch to ‘waka go cameroun’, only came to naught.

We have again been ‘bobo-ed’ (deceived) according to Femi Kuti, sone of late sage Fela Kuti.

Yesterday, Dem tell us sey

Sey today, na we go gain

So we struggle, suffer dey

For this new democratic change

But the truth of the matter be sey

Dem disguise another way

To continue their crooked ways

Oh Yes! Dem bobo!

Dem bobo your mama!

Dem bobo your papa!

Dem bobo your grandmama!

Dem bobo your grandpapa!

Dem bobo the market women!

Dem bobo you journalist!

The human right activists!

In the name of democracy!

Dem bobo your mama ahahaha ahaha!

For tomorrow, they make us wait

Then again, we wait in vain

So many troubles in the rain

To make this a proper mighty change

But the truth of the matter be sey

Dem disguise another way

To continue their crooked ways

Whether we like it or not, until we are ready to freely discuss Nigeria, we will not have quick closure. When will we put all our cards on the table, if we keep deferring true discourse we simply prolong the problem. Will we be ready, or continue ‘bobo-ing’ ourselves—only time will tell.