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Proposed National Conference Excites Afenifere

The African Examiner


Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) has welcome President Goodluck Jonathan’s Independence Day announcement of a national conference for the nation.

According to a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Kunle Famoriyo, the group has been asking for a Sovereign National Conference and would cooperate with and support the Advisory Council set up by Jonathan, where necessary.

The group believed that the committee’s chairman, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, who had spent a significant part of his life in the struggle for democracy and true federalism, would work to produce a guideline that “we can all be proud of, provided the government has not dictated a “no go area” to the committee.”

“We, however, urge President Jonathan to ensure this latest move comes from a pure motive of ending the country’s many problems. We recall many conferences had been constituted in the past that never yielded any dividend for the people of Nigeria,” it stated.

The groups also urge the president not to place any restriction on the committee’s term of reference and that the proposed conference should have no prohibition clause like Senate President David Mark suggested.

Meanwhile, the ARG has said opinions will forever be divided on whether or not the Independence Day is worth celebrating until the country is restructured in line with true federal principles, noting that it is a shame that many citizens are not so upbeat about the celebration as the nation offered them no hope.

The group in its Independence Day message said the nation “can indeed be thankful that the past 53 years of independent nationhood has been a lesson on how not to be a nation, if only we are ready to embrace the future which lies only in purposeful governance. The readiness to obey this lesson is what we should celebrate; not Independence, which is yet to bear the expected fruit of peace, progress, and prosperity.”

“While we thank those still holding on to a stubborn hope of a better tomorrow and commend those who want us to face the reality of a bleak future, we wish to  enjoin all to heed this age-old warning: that the resource curse stigma placed on Nigeria is simply because the current Revenue Allocation Formula rewards laziness and does not encourage hard work. We do not need to pray for crude oil to dry up so we can focus on development of human resources, we only need to allow each region manage its resources.

“This is the reason we are calling for Sovereign National Conference which we believe will redeem this nation and set it on a sure-footed path. It was not the dream of those who fought for the Independence we are thoughtlessly and wastefully celebrating that our children should graduate and remain unemployed for years. Our founding fathers did not fight for an Independent nation where students will stay at home for months due to strike; where companies will fold up and relocate, not because market opportunities ceased but due to a harsh operating environment,” it said.

According to ARG, “we are still neck-deep in economic bondage with soaring local and external debts, and we remain stagnant if not retrogressive in terms of development. Nigeria still remains in the dark because our education and resources have not lifted us to desirable heights as the case in other countries,” the statement said, adding that the country has only been celebrating age while watching other countries celebrate achievements.”

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