National Conference : To Be Or Not To BE !By Mallam Ahmed Jaji

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan attends the 43rd Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting in Abuja“Nothing In The World Is More Dangerous Than Sincere Ignorance & Conscientious Stupidity” – Martin Luther King (Jnr).

Since President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan conjured up the Red -Herring of a National Dialogue and swiftly made some appointments such as the Chairman and the Secretary and other members respectively of the proposed Technical Committee to mid-wife the modality for the Confab, there had been a plethora & variegated views in support and condemnation of the move.
To those opposed to the move, the idea is not a bad one, especially in a warped & overly, overtly warped and skewed Federal System we are operating in Nigeria. The Military Officers that took over the reins of governance from July 1966 ensured that the Unitary System of Governance that Major General Aguiyi Ironsi had established with a Decree earlier in January of the same year was retained & in tandem with the Command Structure of the Army. The fiscal arrangements that had hitherto existed like the Derivation Principle were ignored and the Central Government was made a Leviathan to the extent that the Regions that were involved in healthy competition for developments were hindered from proceeding at the pace the Leaders in those places had envisaged& were balkanised into smaller units known as States . The timing of the introduction of the National Dialogue, at this point in time, to discerning minds, by the President, is suspect & laden with Booby Traps that are not so obvious but real.
I had had cause to contribute to the discussion on the topic, on the Face Book Walls of some of my friends who are supporters of the introduction of the bogey before Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu commented on the same issue and by so doing, elevated the discussion to a National Debate when he addressed Journalists last Saturday October 5, 2013. I had argued that the discussion is not about National Dialogue but National Distraction.
To Us in our group (NAG) and after extensive discussion of the issue, the conclusion we arrived at was that the Ruling Class is sniffing defeat & loss of Power by their own acts of Ommission &/or Commission, since 1999 brought about by their greed and lust for Power, they decided to erect the bogey and red-herring of a National Dialogue just to buy time and for the PDP to reorganise & regroup in order to continue with the debauchery of our collective psyche & commonwealth respectively .
The long Military Rule in this Country was superintended by Soldiers who ensured that their side of Nigeria and people were favoured and protected by some policies. They ensured that those steps they took using the Command Structure of the Army to perpetrate were entrenched in the 1999 Constitution and also ensured that the Constitution they left behind is not easily amended without the co-operation of the favoured part of the Country. After all, Politics is a game of numbers. The brutal and stark reality, is that, the Political Dice had been loaded in favour of a part of the Country.
It is this realisation that prompts the likes of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to criticise the TIMING of the introduction of the National Dialogue by GEJ and this has elicited very uninformed & brazen misinformation of Asiwaju’s position by Mr. Yinka Odumakin to the public.
To Yinka Odumakin, the fact that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu “was one of those that first called on the Federal Government to enter into negotiation with Boko Haram. If he called for negotiation with Boko haram, why would he say that negotiation with the people of Nigeria by the Government now is uncalled for ? Did Asiwaju in his extempore address on Saturday condemn the idea or its timing?
I had had the privilege of being on some Television Programs with Mr. Odumakin and he came across to me as somebody who harbours a deep-seated grudge against the “Jagaban’ but it is painful that the Man’s contributions and steadfastness to the Yoruba Cause is being denigrated on the Alter of Political Expediency.
“In 1998, after the death of M.K.O. Abiola and General Sanni Abacha, the then NADECO of which Tinubu was a member in diaspora, called for National Conference before any election would be held to take the Country out of the Woods. The same Tinubu was one of those who insisted that Elections ought to hold first before any dialogue.
Fourteen years down the road now, things have gone from bad to worse for the People of this Country. When does he he now think that the people should sit together & discuss their future ? When will be the right time after 14yrs ? That is the question ?
On the issue of Boko Haram and Tinubu’s advice that was then treated with derision and as a suggestion coming from one of the Prime Opposition figures in the Country, have the Sect been obliterated or conquered despite the deployment of colossal and humongous materiel (Men and Equipment) for the Operations to pacify the Boko Haram ? Has Tinubu and those that cautioned that the Sect be dialogued with been vindicated or not when the nihilistic Sect could attack innocent civilians repeatedly without being challenged or prevented ? Could the COLLATERAL DAMAGE on the part of both the Soldiers and the Civilians been prevented, if we had chosen the Path of dialogue or not ? ….
It is intellectually fraudulent to insinuate that the People of Nigeria are going to negotiate with a government they elected or what is the meaning of “…..why would he say that negotiation with the people of Nigeria by the Government now is uncalled for ?” Is it the dog that wags the tail or the tail that wags the dog ?
Yinka must be informed that the context in which Asiwaju and most of us agitated that the Military be encouraged to leave the Political scene as soon as possible by conducting the Elections in 1998 , was borne out of the belief that the Civilians to take-over from the Military would be patriotic enough to want to sit down around a Table to discuss the contentious issues of our coexistence but not as a device for retaining power at all cost. A Military Government was then in place & who by orientation were ruling by fiat and not bogged down by a Legislature as we have it now.
As to when a National Dialogue is desirable to correct the obvious structural imbalances, Asiwaju maintained that this can come about after the Election of which he is confident that Nationalistic and competent people must have been elected to pilot the affairs of this Nation in Abuja in 2015 as opposed to the present bunch who had power thrust on their laps but are clueless as to what to do with it.
Some of us are not surprised by the stance of some Analysts from the South-West. The reality is that a mutually beneficial scenario had been created by GEJ. With Dr. Okurounmu’s appointment as the Chairman of the Technical Committee, jobs must have been created for the Boys and GEJ would be afforded a wobbly bridge to the South-West. Somebody should inform him that this is a pipe dream as Afenifere lost its relevance a long time ago when they short-changed the late Bola Ige to favour Olu Falae prior to the 1999 Presidential Election.
What is Yinka Odumakin and his new-found friends up to, by saying tahat “all politicians that are only looking forward to the next general elections without any consideration for how we can address the STRUCTURAL (capitals mine) problem that can make or mar the future of Nigeria. We should all talk before we hold those Election. It is more important”, he added.
Is it that having found out that GEJ, going by his score-card with an average Nigerian, will not be readily, be electable in 2015 or having observed the deleterious effects the activities of the nPDP is having on the image of the PDP, a form of term elongation is being introduced, through the back door ?
Time will surely tell if Nigerians can be hoodwinked. However, the Forces that thwarted OBJ’s 3rd Term Agenda are all, still intact.
Mallam Ahmed Jaji.
Executive Secretary
Never Again Group (NAG)
Lagos, Nigeria.

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