Jonathan’s Dubious Confab By Sam Nda-Isaiah
The response to President Jonathan’s proposed confab has been point-blank. A very critical section of the nation’s intelligentsia believes the confab is at best dubious and it has said so in very clear terms. With the proposal coming barely a year to the general elections, no one is expected to take the president seriously. People have been saying that the confab is the president’s clever way of diverting attention from very serious matters of the day like the mindless stealing going on in his government and the oil theft that he does not give a damn about. If that is true, then, he is only being clever by half. There are people who have also added that the confab is meant to distract Nigerians from the all-important 2015 presidential election that will determine his fate as president and our fate as a nation. Ladies and gentlemen, my very considered opinion is that the president will fail on all counts.
Yes, there are several issues Nigerians need to discuss. We need to discuss the leadership recruitment process of our nation. We need to discuss how and why somebody like Jonathan was able to become president in the first place; we need to discuss how someone like Obasanjo could singlehandedly impose a terminally sick man on the nation as president without any one of the 173 million Nigerians being able to stop him. Nigerians seriously need to discuss why, in spite of section 144 of the constitution, an incapacitated president could not be removed. Nigerians also need to discuss why, despite the checks and balances of the Nigerian nation, a president is able to “expend” N1.6 trillion on fuel subsidy even though only N245 billion had been appropriated for that purpose, with no consequences at all. We also need to discuss why the National Assembly was particularly unable to do anything in spite of the trillions of naira Nigerian taxpayers expend to maintain the two houses. If the National Assembly is so useless, why maintain it at all?
Nigerians need to discuss how resources should be controlled. I have made a case for states to be allowed to control their resources and then pay heavy taxes to the federal government. While some people have proposed a weak centre and stronger states, I have on this page argued that it is possible, with good governance, to get a strong centre and strong federating units all to the benefit of the people. That’s like getting two for the price of one. Nigerians also need to discuss the extent of federalism they want. I have been an exponent of true federalism. Nigerians need to discuss these and lots and lots more.
But everything that needs to be discussed can and should be discussed authoritatively by the people’s representatives at the National Assembly. There is nothing that is wrong with the Nigerian federation that is not within the remit of the National Assembly. Besides, these are the people that were elected (or rigged in, as the case may be, to represent the people), so it is their job. Jonathan’s confab committee of unelected people, some of whom are of dubious character, is certainly inferior to the National Assembly. And whatever any such committee brings up is still subject to the National Assembly’s imprimatur anyway. So why waste everybody’s time?
Now, talking about the make-up of the Jonathan confab committee: what does the president mean by putting Col. Nyiam on that committee? Col. Nyiam who was the most senior officer that led a failed mutiny that was set to break up this country? Is the president serious? President Jonathan is giving a national platform to a character who does not believe in the indivisibility of Nigeria. Anyway, the issue of one indivisible Nigeria is long settled. Not even President Jonathan or any other future president or Boko Haram for that matter is big enough to negotiate this issue. We have gone beyond the subject of Nigeria. All the tribalists should move to their villages and hamlets and leave Nigeria for us. And anyone who strongly feels like leaving the union should come for a send-off party, but Nigeria is a foregone conclusion.
And for those who are still talking “sovereign” national conference, they probably do not get it. Nigeria is already a sovereign; so that one is dead on arrival. Nigeria’s sovereignty is a given. But whatever the president’s motives on this conference are, the most important matters of the day – corruption, oil theft, zero security, incompetence, all issues that have solidly defined Jonathan and his government – will continue to be the main subjects of discussion between now and 2015 and not any yeye conference. If President Jonathan wants to seek re-election, let him run on his record. That is what many of us will be talking about as we inexorably approach 2015, not some nonsense conference that will lead nowhere.
Diagnosing Nigeria’s Problems Correctly
“Nigeria has the capacity to tackle Boko Haram, but the government lacks the political will to wage the battle.” Those are the words of the chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Robert George. And he is right on target! The international community is finally diagnosing Nigeria’s scandalous security crisis correctly. Nigeria’s problem is purely the government headed by President Goodluck Jonathan. Period!
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