The National Conference; A Waste, A Progression or What? By Joel Pereyi
We saw them marshal several lines of argument like a plaintiff before a jury. Little wonder every Musa, Tunde and Nwanchukwu, seemingly had and still have something to say as regards the kernel of the composition ; whether the National Conference is a waste, a progression or what, that is. Regardless of class or the quantum of education one might have consumed, getting drenched by misdirected spittle on the convergence of the 492 supposedly wise (wo)men at the alleged headquarters of corruption on God’s planet almost became unavoidable. The abduction of our Chibok damsels and bartering of a hitherto peaceful Nyanya and the ecumenical city of Jos, into bomb sowing plantations that now reaps; gored and scalded bodies, severed limbs, tore open skulls, disgorged brains and viscera in heavy torrents actually did cut us some slack. No thanks to the Haramites of Boko.
Like every patriotic Nigerian, Bhurj Khalifas of hope and joy unspeakable surfaced on my mind’s acres as I chewed over President Jonathan’s revelation of his intention of organizing a national conference during his centenary celebration broadcast speech. Mere thoughts of Nigerians rebuilding Nigeria set loose endorphins and serotonin in my physical frame. Several cabins of ecstasy did rail through my marrows. Intoxicated by these hormones, I quickly declared it a progression. Thereafter, my euphoria wavered. My curious mind quizzed, while my lower lip chewed; does history not have a way of repeating itself? Was a similar conference not organized by Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 2005? In fact, of what good has it been? In my plethora of thoughts, a feedback resonated in hush, mild whispers; zilch, niente, nada ; no advantage whatsoever. My vortex of excitement was abated. Till this day, i’m pained it grew wings like the windfall of the gulf war.
Putting pessimism and cynicism on check, convening Nigeria’s crème de la crème in such a brief time is no mean achievement. Yes, some of the delegates are nothing but globetrotting beneficiaries of the daredevil absurdity which has been our sorry fate. The better part of them even fall within the coordinates of our revered laureate’s “wasted generation” and Pat Utomi’s “generation that left town.” For the mere fact they made laudable and far reaching recommendations, they deserve our kudos. More so, unlike the previous one, neither the south-south delegates nor any other group walked out of proceedings, despite the expected rabid air, palpable tension, primordial sentimental brickbats and unwarranted regional and religious cannoning that hovered over the latitude of some plenary sessions. That in itself scores them some remarkable points. But of what use are recommendations that will be ligatured, stowed and stacked in our brim full national archives? Zilch, niente, nada; no advantage whatsoever!
While all topics touched fall under a significant quadrant, resource control or say derivation formula seemed to stand vertical in the horizontal myriad of discuss. Like the brainstorming of the committee on devolution of powers wasn’t good enough, it served the most debated topic, and afforded some of our finest orators the opportunity to eloquently flaunt the stuff they are made of. It brought to bear the submission of a minority report which was aptly discarded , from a federal government delegate, Ms. Ankio Briggs, a post conference committee that will further look into the derivation formula as a common ground is yet to be reached, not even at the time of this publishing, and only a brief dive into history reminds one of how this bone of contention made those whose backyard houses the several stock tank barrels of crude oil on which our economy thrives blackballed 2005’s conference.
The conference have achieved much, yet it has been joined at the hip with many derogatory adjectives and phrases. Time that could have been channeled into something more productive have been used in drafting several commentaries, poems and articles in cyberspace and otherwise on the efforts of well meaning Nigerians who were patriotic enough to devote upwards of 4 months to the Nigerian cause. Going by our antecedents, it can be rightly adjudged a waste of precious time, resources and energy. But even the most educated guesses and well informed speculations have never failed to accede to the fact that Heraclitus was right. They have always accentuated that change is constant!
I understand we have a legion of reasons why we can’t wait. Patience is more of a luxury to us at the moment and that’s fine. I’ve come to terms with it. But isn’t it too early and wrong to christen it a waste? It only follows a logical sequence to score and evaluate exercises by their outcomes. Thank goodness it is over. We must not forget these recommendations are subject to processes poised by normal democratic settings. But if after a referendum or no referendum, we remain as hungry and angry, homeless and jobless as we were before our saviors embarked on this rescue mission, failing to equate it to a fol-de-rol will be unredeemable foolhardy. If the outcome doesn’t stop the frequency of our strikes from being a contender for a mention in the Guinness Book of Records, if it doesn’t stop the concomitant disappearance of our petrodollars into perpetual oblivion, if it doesn’t desiccate our blood moistened national flag in finality or heal us of this terminal national psychosis of ours. Who will need a legislator turned chief of staff to posit prestissimo the just concluded national colloquy a futile concatenating gimmick, a grand miasma, a depreciable apotheosis of an hemorrhaging lootocracy and kakistocracy that cascadingly oozed into a malodorous enveloping of our knowledgia centura in a paraplegic crinkum crankum(in plain terms: a waste)?!
Joel Pereyi is a freelance copywriter and a final year Petroleum Engineering student of Niger Delta University. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria with his books and pen.
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