The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history-Friedrich Hegel
I don’t understand this. President Goodluck Jonathan acted true to type and some Nigerians are yakking. On Tuesday during the Independence Day broadcast, the president announced his intention to tread the well-beaten path of his predecessors- national conference. It is a well-worn road used by a few that led to the destination of infamy.
To walk the talk, a 13 member advisory committee was announced. Prominent among the membership are names of divisive elements that never believed in the corporate existence of the country. Putchists, irredentists and hawkers who would sell anything to make a fast buck. I dare say, informed Nigerians know the public position of these individuals on state matters. We can even hazard an educated guess or two of what their take would be. Thankfully, theirs is to advise how to go about a needless conference.
I grudgingly admit that handlers of the President are clever almost intelligent even. Coming up with the idea of a national conference is brilliant. The idea has achieved two important goals. It has bought time for the president. Secondly, it has diverted attention from the burning issues of the day. Among them massive corruption, gargantuan insecurity and serial perfidy.
Since the announcement, we have not stopped yammering. It must be that Jonathan now knows Nigerians more than the yapping Nigerians know their leader. At what precise stage did Jonathan transform from being “clueless” to being “maradonic”?
With the benefit of hindsight, our president is coming across as the smartest politician to mount the saddle of commander-in-chief. He appears to totter and bumbles all the way to achieve his set goals. The likes of El-Rufai talk and act intelligently without achieving a visible political goal. Jonathan plays the dumb card and leaves the opposition gawking.
Minus any fanciful glaze, a ‘national conference’ is a handy tool for Nigeria’s leaders desirous of dying in power. Pilloried by the opposition, derided by a section of the international community and hounded by the press, I can understand why the resort to national conference. In doing that, the current president is not exactly ‘revolutionary’. Former President Obasanjo attempted a backdoor elongation of his tenure to a third using the national political reform conference. Anyone with the faintest idea of Obasanjo politics knows that he is foxy. His wily ways were such that when he would go for the jugular, his victims would be least expecting him. There was a time for example; he perfected the art of having dinner with his prey before he politically devours him in the morning as breakfast. Late Senate President, Chuba Okadigbo is not alive to give us insight how Obasanjo fooled him by coming to sheath his sword in his official residence, ate pounded yam only to encouraged his impeachment the following morning. But Audu Ogbeh is alive. I am pretty certain, he has not forgotten how he was muscled out as chairman of the PDP when he caught the ire of Baba Iyabo. But even a crafty Obasanjo couldn’t push through his third term agenda through the instrumentality of the conference.
Before then, in 1994, late Military ruler General Sani Abacha convened the national constitutional conference. It was his response to relentless agitation by a mix breed of human rights crusaders and idle politicians. To idea worked like magic. So effective it was that the late ruler hinged his exit from power to a date that the conference would recommend. That plan backfired because the likes of late General Shehu Musa Yar’adua, an elected delegate networked and overwhelmed government delegates by fixing January 1996 as the terminal date of the Abacha regime. Looking back, it apparently didn’t go down well, with the man of the moment, Abacha. That marked the beginning of cat and mouse relationship between active and retired Generals leading ultimately to the incarceration of Yar’adua and eventual death. The idea of national conference has been routinely abused. Ideally, a conference to jaw-jaw the nation’s ills should elicit the shout of joy. It would accord citizens and nation to speak out freely and truthfully. I strongly believe in national dialogue. It is about time all Nigerians truthfully sit down and talk. I strongly believe that the national assembly is better positioned to engender such kind of discourse. A conference, as it is being presently mooted, is sheer waste of time and resources. This government is reputed for two things-Corruption and lack of integrity. It can’t be trusted to convene any conference because the Oga at the top is serially perfidious.
I couldn’t but agree with Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso that this conference is sheer waste of time. At best is creating job for the boys and political rehabilitation of some political has beens.