Conference or charade?



Hawwah Abdullahi Gambo

A lot of hoopla had been said even before the onset of the sham, and then the constitution of the delegates made it all worse. Ifthe conference were really a national one, the people should have beenallowed to choose their delegates, and also be allowed to give suchdelegates the agenda he or she would present.
But what happened? Nothing; except politicking. These delegates weresupposed to be representing US, Nigerians. But do we even know them? No one asked for the opinion or the choice of Nigerians as to whoshould represent them at the conference neither were they asked fortheir contribution to the debate.

All 294 delegates are in Abuja to do the President’s bidding and notNigerians’ or Nigeria’s. Otherwise, we would have been asked for ouropinion on what is to be the agenda for discussion as well as thosewho will represent us.  Personally, I feel there are national issuesof more importance than Constitutional review, something for whichthe National Assembly has wasted so much time and money going allover the country.

Not only were nominations of the delegates lopsided,they were also a bogus political gimmick. Before the commencement of the conference, someone screamed theapparent marginalization of the North, but no one took heed. It is only now, almost a month intothe conference that the Sultan of Sokoto chose to lend his voice tothat effect. Alas! It’s too late.
Funny enough, for a country that has more than 80 million youth,90 percent of the 294 delegates are above 60, morethan half of which are from the South.

It beats me how such people would be able to make any tangibledebate on a future they may never be a part of. Imean, seriously, isn’t the life span of Nigerians within that agerange?
The media was plagued with pictures of sleeping delegates all throughthe first week of sitting.Most of them are obviously retired, tiredand stressed out. What they need most is a vacation, repentance andtime to play with their grand-children; not sit in a bogus conferencein the FCT enmeshed in a discussion that neither interests them norcan they contribute anything tangible to.
As there are many levels of dis-interest, from the sleepingdelegates, we graduated to playing ones –  those so bored withthe proceedings that they opted to amuse themselves with games fromtheir computers. But then they know they are beinghandsomely paid to waste their time and do the President’s bidding.Why bother?

On the other hand, you should not expect any less from people thatare being recycled over and over again. I mean, even a tarpaulin willlose its feel. A friend was lamenting why on earth her 80-year-old father was chosen for the conference and not her or any ofher siblings. That is why Nigeria does not develop in any way.
Stagnant ideas, old baggage and stagnant policies.If anything, the composition of the National Conference makes it allthe more clearer that there is indeed no place for youth in Nigeriaregardless of their number, and that Jonathan is indeed an ethnicPresident.

As an online commentator said,  the list of delegates reflects more ofthe 5% of Nigerians with affluent power without proper skills,professionalism and traceable source and those living on more than athousand dollars a day  compared to the remaining  95% of Nigerianssponsored by 5% of Nigerians who own NIGERIA’.
However, there may be yet, some light at the end of the tunnel. Theselflessness, veracity and bravery of Yadoma Bukar Mandara, the youngest delegate to the conference and Nurudeen Lemu, is an indication of renewed hope for Nigerian youth. Their dedication,commitment and outstanding outings are certainly something to makeevery Nigerian proud; youth or not. At least, we all know for surethat neither of them is sleeping or playing scrabble.  It should havebeen patriotic Nigerians like these two that should have been at theconference; but alas! It’s not so.

Even though the presence of Nigerians like Dora Akunyili has given a kind of credibility to the conference, but as Dr. Emman Shehu rightly said, ‘the ongoing National Conference is a complete waste of time anda political charade that is designed to fail because it lacks agenuine basis’.  Besides, the likes of Akunyili and Yadoma Bukar Mandara are too few to enable them make any difference; after all,this is a democracy where the majority carries the vote. We can onlyrely on HOPE, hoping that their presence would influence some goodoutcome.

If the N7 billion budgeted for the conference had beenutilized to address some pressing national issues, some of thechallenges the country is facing would certainly have been met headon.Nigerians are good at, we can strategise a lot, but cannot implement.So whether or not the outcome of this charade will be put to use issomething that remains to be seen.In the meantime, we will just keep our arms crossed as eventsunfold.God bless Nigeria.

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