As The National Conference Begins…My Candid Opinion By Emmanuel Igbru
The following is my candid opinion and observation on the National Conference. I make this as an Urhobo ethnic national. Urhobo is the fifth group of about 3.5million people among other 400 ethnic nationalities that make up the Nigeria Federation. Except you are a naturalised immigrant, in which case you can’t possibly claim an ethnic group, you are first an ethnic national.
With just a delegate of the 492 member delegates, Urhobo is grossly and deliberately short-changed in fair representation. This seems to be a pattern with the President Jonathan led government, otherwise, how would you explain the omission of a people from the centenary award: not an Ibru, Ejoor, Mukoro Mowoe, Dafinone, Onosode et al, in the making of Nigeria? Funny.
Back to the Conference; we all know the issues agitating our minds, as minority from the Niger Delta: we want resource control, fiscal federalism, more government or power at the Local government levels, but less government at the federal, credible census, security, education etc.
Unfortunately, this conference has a smell of political window dressing. Firstly, the representation is skewed, then the government has a mind-set of what it wants, it has given its no-go areas. For any conference to touch the core of our problems, it must result to the treaties that made each and every ethnic group a part of Nigeria. Deliberation on the basis of state is very artificial considering how the regionalised military governments brought them to be. We must go back to the ingredients of the commissions and conferences that brought about the amalgamation and independence of Nigeria. We cannot wish away ethnic nationalism on the pretence of detribalisation, yet practice favouritism based on ethnicity behind closed and opened doors; ethnicity ought to be the bed rock of a strong federal government. Our diverse cultural nuances should impact positively on the Federation. The national unity will be stronger if we recognise officially that we are different, this gives credence to the saying: there is unity in diversity.
I have doubts on the outcome of this conference as can be inferred from the above, emphasising on the selection of the delegates and its inequitable representation. A conference of this nature is fed by elected delegates. This is more like a conference of hustlers (this does not remove from the fact that I respect and admire a good number of the delegates, especially their robust ideas on national issues). Therefore, my prognosis on this conference is simple. There is going to be a scratch on the mountain of issues confronting the federation, and then we shall return to the starting block.
At the exit of Mr President, be it 2015 or 2019, the issues of degradation in the Niger Delta will play up again on a fiercer dimension comprising all ethnic nationalities. Nothing can be achieved before the above years to assuage the people from continuing in the struggle and agitation started by Adaka Boro, rekindled by Ken Saro Wiwa and energised by the placated militants.
Seriously, we need a conference of ethnic nationalities made up of equitably elected delegates whose outcome must be subject to a national referendum.
Emmanuel O. Igbru
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