What Has the National Conference Truly Achieved By Nasiru Suwaid
“We are (nothing, but) a wasted generation” – Nobel Laureate Professor Emeritus Wole Soyinka
One of the few incontrovertible gains of democracy in the nation is the right to freedom of expression, which allows for a citizen to say whatever he or she likes on the media, without much fear of prosecution or persecution by the authorities of the Nigerian state and no platform or avenue has granted the citizenry such privilege than the political commentaries in the many of the newly established private radio stations, abound in many of the states of the federation. It is in one of such radios that I heard of an interview that had left me mentally sickened, if not confused, but it could easily be used to explain the predicament of lack of acceptance by the general public or even the deep skepticism bedeviling the about to wind down National Conference. It was a feisty exchange between the reporter and the politician, who is also a respected aristocrat and a business man, what the interviewer was asking about is why should an individual who had spent ages condemning a particular political party, now cross carpet to it and gloriously hail it as the next best thing to ever be formed and registered.
When it was the turn of the politician to respond, despite the fact it was on radio thus the demeanor of the duo cannot be visually examined, you could easily feel the tension in voices relayed. His quick defence was that unlike years before, when an honorable gentleman can only speak a single truth, now, such a personality could make two statements about a single thing, issue or matter, insofar as the authenticity of the author of the statement is not in doubt, all he has said should be taken as the gospel truth. It is pertinent to note that all things being equal, it was last Monday the National Conference finished its plenary sittings, it is also important to note that majority of the delegates at the conference, belong to the class of this politician of truism of double speak.
Thus, when individuals who had gone into a conference, as a representative of a region, despite the fact that it did not nominate them, rather, they are merely nominees of a president from a rival region, still they agreed to participate in a voting exercise about the percentage quota on oil revenue each region is entitled to, which seemed to be skewed against the interest of their region of origin, yet they dared to claim that the voice vote used, was surreptitiously employed to pass a motion that did not include their voices of dissent, something is obviously and glaringly amiss.
But, was it unique or exceptional what the Northern delegates did at the conference, unfortunately it is not, because, of all the Nigerian regions who had gone to the national congregation, it was the South-West which could be said to have gone with a specific and aggregated agenda, arrived at a congregated and an all inclusive summit in Ibadan, which is a negotiation for an uncompromising stand on regionalism as a system of government. However, what they obtained for the Yoruba nation is a much stronger centre, what with the states further splintered into smaller sizes, which is what the creation of nineteen new states actually means. Every Nigerian privy to what had happened in 1967, must have known that one of the greatest weapons used by General Yakubu Gowon to undermine Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu’s Biafran secession was the state creation, that destroyed the established regionalist cohesive sentiments inherited from independence and also gave the South-South minorities their own states, thus reducing the rebellion to a purely Ndigbo uprising.
As such, how could a region that went and only wants autonomy as a concrete unit, accepts dismemberment supervised by parties who do not have any stake in the greater Oduduwa nation. Besides, had the report of the derivation have been allowed to stand, the South-South would have received an increment of about 18% to 21% percentage revenue and with most of the South-East having joined the ranks of oil producing states, they would have benefited from the arrangement. For the three regions of North-West, North-East and Middle Belt, 5% percentage derivation revenue was set aside for them, to explore their solid minerals deposits potentials and develop the areas destroyed by the current insurgency afflicting the region. Now, the question that immediately comes to mind is that apart from Ondo, which is an oil producing state, what happens to the rest of the South-West, in terms of getting equity in revenue sharing.
It is instructive to note, that perhaps this is the only working conference in the world, which did not rely on the acclamation of a simple majority but rather, a consensus of three quarter [¾] approval of delegates, which is a virtual and certain impossibility in a gathering of mutual ethnic suspicion. However, when you have a congregation that is expected to examine matters of faith, yet it is so skewed in representation of one religion being more than the other and it is required to explore regional differences, yet one region has so glaringly outnumbered the other in the number of nominee delegates, this is the kind of counterproductive voting method that is likely to be adopted. As of now, the conference’s committee on revenue derivation and sharing has failed to reach a consensus, forcing the whole congregation to refer a resolution to President Goodluck Jonathan as the convener, who is to find solution with the aid of a technical committee. The question that immediately suffices is if the Nigeria’s great and the good, in terms of old age, wisdom and experience, could not accomplish such a little task, which they were so handsomely mobilized to perform, what sayeth for such a generation.
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