I have immense respect for Senator Femi Okunromu, Professor Nwabueze (who has since dropped out), Col. Tony Nyiam, Mr. Tony Uranta, Senator Khariat Gwadabe and many of the other members of President Goodluck Jonathan’s National Conference Advisory Commitee and I have interacted closely with some of them for the better part of the last 20 years. I can testify to the fact that those of them that I know are honest, decent, serious-minded and credible people who, though I may not agree with all the time, I have tremendous respect and deep affection for.
Yet in this matter we must be candid. The truth must be told and that truth is as follows. If any serious-minded person thinks that a ”national conference” that is not ”sovereign” and whose recommendations are subject to the will and caprices of the President and the National Assembly can make any difference in our country or bring any meaningful change then they are living in cuckoo land. Besides which nothing good can come from Jonathan and his PDP. The whole thing is an attempt to divert attention from their own shortcomings and dwindling fortunes and to divide the ranks of the opposition.
For the last 20 years some of us have been calling for a national conference but we have always insisted that the resolutions of that conference must be sovereign and binding on all, that it must comprise of representatives from every nationality in this country (no matter how big or small) and that it must have, as the first item on it’s agenda, whether Nigeria should or must remain as one country and, if so, under what terms.
Anything short of this is fake. It is nothing more than a palliative. It is a ”made in China” copy of the original. If you take the ”sovereign” out of the ”national conference” it is like taking the ham out of a ham sandwich. All you will have left is a talk shop whose recommendations will eventually be tossed into the dustbin by both the Federal Government and the National Assembly.
The almighty Federal Government of Nigeria is not about to give up it’s awesome authority and ability to control literally everything and everyone in our country by allowing devolution of power from the centre, resource control, autonomy for the regions, derivation as a principle for revenue allocation, the right of every nationality to self-determination and to seceed from the federation if that is the wish of their people, the confirmation of the secularity of the state, the confirmation of the rights of all religious, sexual and ethnic minorities and all the other wholesome, progressive ideas and ideals that the true believers hold so dear.
The PDP is simply incapable of delivering all these things and no PDP President, least of all a weak and lily-livered one like Goodluck Jonathan, would ever make such concessions. The PDP is a party of deceitful old dinosaurs and conservatives. When the time for a real conference comes it will not be by government fiat but as a consequence of a series of unpleasant, unforseeable and violent events that will compel us all to come to our senses, to come to the table and to once and for all sort out our differences or just go our separate ways. That is the bitter truth. It will never be given to us on a plate.
Those that have been seduced by Jonathan’s charm offensive in this matter will soon learn that he is simply deceiving them. At the end of the day their greatest expectations, hopes and aspirations will be dashed and frustrated and they will be made to look like utter fools. Remember the words of the Trojans- ”beware of the Greeks, especially when they bring gifts”.