On the National Conference

Between March 30 and May 20, Nigerians would be treated to another bizarre drama of a national conference that must be seen for what it is: an ominous blitheness that leads only to blind alley. A lot of banal gimmicks have been infused into the political space since President Jonathan’s body language indicated his readiness to cling on to power. The national conference is one of them. Those who will fall for the booby trap will have a date with history as less discerning, who decidedly turned a blind eye to the antics of a political actor and opportunist, who suddenly found an escape route in a clumsy political road.

The trouble with Nigeria from colonial days to date is that its leadership has never allowed the citizenry to privately or collectively express their desire to live together. We are not so sure how the federal government came to the conclusion that the 492 delegates to the National Conference is a true reflection and sacrosanct representation of over 160 million Nigerians. The questions on the lips of many Nigerians are: why is the Presidency involved in a national frivolity whose outcome will not be subjected to, and validated by referendum? Who can vouch for President Jonathan and the manipulative PDP machine to guarantee restriction of a rampaging presidency from stealing and appropriating the people’s voices in the national conference?
President Jonathan does not need to restrict Nigerians if he is truly committed to charting a course for true nationhood. His modalities for nationhood do not include the people’s rights to validate – through referendum – that will not be subjected to the PDP manipulative machines. Moreover, that the outcome of the so-called “National Conference” will be ratified through consensus or by 75 per cent of the selected 492 delegates; therein lies the affront and impunity on Nigerians.
No matter what, President Jonathan’s good intentions are not good enough for us. What does it cost a determined leadership to conduct an acceptable referendum in the interests of the populace and the nation’s being? Why waste humongous sum in billions on a frivolous outing whose out coming will be derided by future governments? The nation’s survival is far greater than the President’s vaunting ambition and the PDP’s everlasting claims to raw political power.

Erasmus Ikhide,

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