Confab: A necessary distraction



I listened to Dr Fredrick Fasheun on Channels Television, describing as an abomination, the suggestion by a senator, that the confab reports and deliberations should have recourse to the National Assembly and the outcomes forwarded to the lawmakers. The conference itself was never christened a ‘sovereign’ one by the federal government which initiated it and if it were, then it would mean President Jonathan and all other elected officials would have to down their tools and Nigeria will be undergoing a rebirth or, most likely, a disintegration. But since the conference is not sovereign both at conception and in its manifestation, then it will certainly reveal itself as an opportunity for so many things to align with it and utilise or use it for other interests and agenda, some positive for Nigeria, some negative to our co- existence; as peace continues to elude us.
Funds were channeled to the National Assembly which were meant for a truer constitutional amendment process and opinions were fetched from constituents from all over Nigeria, questions asked and answered over very critical national and constitutional issues. The results have been compiled and voting is on course in the assembly as decisions are to be made and positions taken over those previously knotty or contentious issues. How do we then proscribe the National Assembly? What gives legitimacy to the Presidency as convener of the conference and at the same time abrogates the lawmakers’ authority or functions? Who calls for Nigeria’s judgement day and by which authority? Well only of course if your guess rhymes with mine, but yet abhors it!
I cannot in all fairness and sincerity count as a zero, the efforts of putting together a platform for increased national dialogue. I also cannot fail to see that the conference effort is overreaching to serve the interests in need of a national distraction, shifting attention from the many discourses that have created many rowdy scenes all over the Nigerian space, seeking answers to our deficits in infrastructure, financial management, security and social independence.
Perhaps Dr Fasheun’s direction is fed by a rather lame assembly, handicapped from legislating honourably, shying away from showing the federal government the highway whenever it fails to go the lawful way, rocking Nigerians’ constitutional rights. He may be putting the screw before the washer, deliberately disregarding the importance or even existence of the assembly, embracing a conference that is not so constitutional after all. Not in the sense of it being illegal, but rather, not carrying any constitutional weight that will guarantee the adoption of its outcome and resolutions. While at that, it is never a bad idea to brainstorm, to grieve, point fingers, and even give slaps on the wrists and elsewhere, were tempers to be lost, which is usually the norm in Nigerian national debates.
We have been plagued by ethnic and religious strife, fuelled by politics and greed, and the pillaging of our national wealth has grown thicker and unstoppable, Nigerians deceiving themselves that they are fighting it, while in truth they queue up to take their cue of the selfish endeavour.
No matter how long or elaborate the conference is, our real problems will remain in waiting, still begging for answers and solutions, beyond the confab roundup.
We do not need a confab to correct ourselves, to right our wrongs, or to channel government spending appropriately, nor do we need a conference to curb corruption. There is no law yet to be promulgated or created or discussed, what is missing is us. The stage is set, the lights are bright and the microphone is steadied on the podium, waiting for able leadership that will address the crowd and make it cheer with great applause, having the support of all, including lieutenants that can deliver a good showing of purposeful leadership.
Aside the clamor for more and more resources from the Niger Delta, the creation of more states, the adoption of state police, what do we want to jaw-jaw about? Are those the real problems of us Nigerians? For what it’s worth, a confab is necessary now, at a time steaming with so much tension and attention for 2015. The confab will be a creative distraction that will diffuse public tension maybe, provide drama and perhaps entertainment and ridicule, diverting attention from issues like INEC’s new timetable, or court orders that will rob party defectors of their people given mandate. Conference or no conference, sovereign or not, 2015 will surely come and the polls will definitely be the conference proper that we need.

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