Update One On The National Conference By Jaye Gaskiya
The National Conference was formally inaugurated on Monday 17th March from 4.30pm. The most significant outcome of the formal inauguration was the content of the Presidential Inauguration Speech. Three key issues were implicit; and these three issues further buttress our justification for robustly and critically engaging with the National Conference.
These three issues are: First, that this conference is all but in name actually a constitutional conference in the sense that one of the possible outcomes recognized by the regime is a new constitution to re-launch Nigeria. This was even justified with reference to the fact that the US constitution has been amended 27 times!
Second, is that the listing of the critical and germane issues facing the country was a complete and exhaustive rehashing of the historical position of civil society – fiscal federalism, resource control, political restructuring, corruption, the socio-economic framework, citizenship, etc……..We cannot agree any less with these comprehensive adoption of our historical position.
Third, the president discussed sovereignty and raised the issue of a REFERENDUM, endorsing a referendum as a very clear way to manifest the sovereignty of citizens; in this regard he called on the NASS to expedite action in amending the constitution and approving the proposed provision for a referendum!
Let us be very clear about one thing: the pro-democracy Civil Society Organisations and their delegates were the only ones to make public demands that are Pan – Nigerian on the National Conference before it was inaugurated; some of our demands and positions were reflected in that inaugural address.
These represents further concessions on the part of a weakened and increasingly isolated Presidency, and reflects the antagonistic divide within the ruling class; And as we have repeatedly said, it is these factors that combine to make this National Conference an opportunity.
In reality this National Conference can be compared to a Stem Cell; one of those wonders of nature, the cells in the organisms with a potential to develop into any organ.
We are determined to ensure through our engagement that it develops into an organ beneficial to the collective interests of our people, ordinary citizens, victims of corruption and bad governance.
And for better or for worse, with or without us, this conference will set the stage for the 2015 general elections. We are determined to force our peoples’ issues unto the agenda for that contentious battle.
The writer is on twitter as @jayegaskia
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