Jonathan’s Conference Subject to National Assembly Review-Not SovereignArticles/Opinion Friday, November 1st, 2013
By Ben Ikari
As I’ve suggested in my previous articles based on historical facts and current reality, the so-called National Conference (NC) many thought will be Sovereign National Conference (SNC) and I said it will not, is all about Goodluck Jonathan. It’s thus a NC which participants shall not be drawn equally from ethnic nations rather, on state or regional basis. Some groups, especially the Northern sociopolitical and cultural group, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), while encouraging Northerners to participate and not boycott the conference as planned, opined that delegates should be drawn on local government basis. The group is aware such arrangement will favor the North, which Jonathan is aware will work hard to scuttle equitable and just decisions of the conference, as with it’s the most states, thus its upper hand in the National Assembly.
Any of the foregoing arrangements may very well dash the dreams, hopes of oppressed ethnic and indigenous peoples. So the said conference that isn’t sovereign is more about Jonathan who is getting the targeted attention and goodwill having lost flavor for lack of performance, hyper-corruption and impunity in his administration incomparable to any remembered time.
Funny enough, if it holds, after so-called citizens’ referendum on outcome the recommendations from the conference shall be reviewed or ratified by the National Assembly, which Jonathan knows is a lame-duck playing politics, number-game and not doing the business of the sovereigns or peoples. An assembly confined to greed and corruption, laziness and gridlock, and can’t complete its version of a constitutional review despite huge money wasted shall become the final arbiter before conference recommendations are made into new law? There is no need for prophets to see through the failure such process will be. Jonathan know the end result, though will have room to transfer blames to the assembly after he secured needed attention; the mind of people soften toward him thinking he mean well, and he eventually wins the 2015 election that this conference is actually about, except conference holds in 2014 before elections. This is of course unlikely.
Although due to the compelling need to talk many may see this conference as being well meant. The conference has nothing to do with the ethnic sovereigns (and generality of Nigerians) that caused Nigeria, though against the wishes of many. It’s these ethnic nations that are the Nigerian reality that needs to talk in honest terms for a way forward. Experience has shown that the way forward isn’t in the hands of some government selected few whose thought shall be influenced, making outcome similar to the last two held by late Sanni Abacha and Olusegun Obasanjo, and they both failed for ignoring the free will of the sovereigns to talk and right the wrongs of 1914 and subsequent draconian laws plaguing the country.
Any genuine national talk’s outcome, especially with sovereign composition will go through referendum by the sovereigns or peoples and become law once approved. It’s like causing a new or rebirth features, where every old thing shall be banished and everything become new. It’s instructive to note that the sovereigns are higher than the president and selected or in most cases imposed National Assembly members who have today and by force usurped the peoples’ sovereignty like the federal government. Their power are meant to be derived from the sovereigns, but for the use of force and other fraudulent, crooked means. The current and illegal composition of the National Assembly with two representatives from each state instead of ethnic nations has Hausa-Fulanis, Yorubas and Igbos as dominant ethnic groups. This is due to the unholy state creation theory used by Hausa-Fulanis (and their so-called majority counterparts) who have ruled the country more than others to multiply into many states as to usurping oil resources, controlling and maintaining power. The Yorubas and Igbos have benefited from this theory, thus have about 6 states each, while the former has more than 8, but many of the ethnic groups whose oil is used to fuel these states have none.
Given the above, the Hausa-Fulanis especially, will not allow any recommendation that carries true and fiscal federalism bearing resource control to succeed. They’ve, of course, been against SNC or any arrangement that will be based on equity, justice and equality in respect to resources control and state creation, national offices and more than any ethnic group. They alongside many Yorubas and Igbo politicians/rulers fear any real changes, respect for all groups and economic parity and justice a SNC can bring to replace their epileptic and unjust parasitic design. Jonathan and his team are aware of the uncanny position of the north and some of their southern counterpart; they’re aware of this structural imbalance and the gridlock that has been the Assembly but chooses the former as last resort. One thing that could force the national Assembly to accept conference result, though not its sovereign right, is real breakup threats from ethnic nations in South-South and South-East. I wish at such point the north and Yorubas could be bold to accept or also break up.
Meanwhile, despite the seemingly good will Jonathan could be getting, lots of people have expressed lack of trust in Jonathan and his conference and some have also said there is no need for another jamboree that will waste money without achieving projected or wishful results. Many more have said good governance, which I disagree is what the country needs and not any kind of conference. Good governance or democracy can’t on their own resolve the disproportionate state and resource sharing methods, where those who have power and those close to it used same to create many states for their ethnic groups, using the oil resources of so-called minorities who have the least number of states. Honest talk will dismantle these states and create new ones based on viability, ethnicity or as ethnic groups may agree to form new states, and need for equity and equality, true and fiscal federation or confederation. It will also create provisions that allow sovereigns willing to leave the contraption do so while those not willing will stay. On the other hand, an honest and not string attached NC as this one can also renegotiate and rewrite the currently exploiting and deadly constitution to a people’s constitution bearing true and fiscal federalism, hence resource control. Such conference will not be subject to National Assembly ratification else it will be doomed.
It’s also worthy of note that at this conference dismemberment can’t be discussed, according to the advisory committee chairman, Dr. Femi Okurounmu, who has been handed what to do, thus seemed confused on Peoples’ Sovereignty and National Assembly, while discussing on Sahara Reporters’ TV (story was published Oct. 26). Yet he claims there will not be “no-go-area” like Jonathan, his master also said knowing they’re lying. Why should not allowing discussion on whether any ethnic nation whose consent wasn’t respectfully sought or those who just want to leave Nigeria can do so not mean there is no-go-area?
Why afraid of SNC or dismemberment, and why continue to force people to stay together if they don’t want to, yet he claimed Nigerians don’t want disintegration? One thing is sure-discussing dismemberment isn’t express ticket for disintegration. It only gives the people right to their thoughts and needs or demands. If majority agrees that dismemberment is the way forward after deliberation those willing can leave, if not they stay and work out modalities for a more solid, united and perfect union through new people’s constitution. Conference of the sovereigns Nigeria’s rulers, politicians including Jonathan have fought against, hence the unending crisis and repeated agitation that isn’t going away will form a more legitimate national dialogue and way forward and not a NC which participants are drawn on state or regional basis or local government and whose selection and ideas shall be bundled by government.
Let me state here finally that, the inability of Jonathan and his government to making this so-called National Conference sovereign, but about himself, and especially the decision to allow no-go-area, meaning dismemberment can’t be discussed, and sending deliberation result to the National Assembly for review may as well cause disintegration than could be expected. Ethnic nations may seize such historical gridlock and shenanigan as a path to reasserting their independence, hence disintegration. No doubt some sections, groups in the country, including parties have declared their unwillingness to attend the conference claiming it’s another waste of time and money, that will not produce clamored result, hence will only favor Jonathan’s interests as he envisaged.
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