National Confab, Tinubucracy and the Rest of usArticles/Opinion Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
By Uche Ugboajah
Since the President, Goodluck Jonathan, announced some days ago his decision to give the Nigerian people-what they have been demanding over the years-the opportunity to dialogue over the Nigerian state, the true colours of statesmen and pretenders have started to unravel. For years, some politicians have shot into national limelight masquerading as democracy activists and using every available platform to demand national dialogue among the ethnic nationalities that constitute the Nigerian state. But from the knee-jerk reaction and decided opposition of yesterday’s advocates of sovereign national conference to the idea today, the definition of politics in our society as “going left when indeed signalling right” is more than apt.
The former Lagos State governor, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, has been one of the strongest voices calling for the convocation of national conference to discuss the basis of our collective existence as one country over the years. He was a member of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) led by the late elder statesman, Anthony Enahoro, and the group’s ready-made answer to any problem in our polity, especially in the post-June 12, 1993 presidential election annulment, was “Sovereign National Conference”. Yet the same Tinubu is all over, everywhere now, rejecting the convocation of the conference to discuss Nigeria. If the former leader of the ethnic party, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is not directly granting interviews opposing the national conference, he is vicariously fighting through his foot soldiers in the media. Has the senator lost his voice? Why is he now afraid of his own voice?
“Jonathan’s ‘Jebu’ Conference and Tinubu’s Higher Logic” by a certain Olusegun Samson Akinlabi in ThisDay of 14th October, 2013 and his master’s position in a news report, “Tinubu urges adoption of Obasanjo’s constitutional review on conference…S’East forum, Anglican cleric set agenda” along with the full text titled “National conference too critical to be left to presidency” in the Guardian of the same day fit well into the pattern of orchestrated campaigns by selfish politicians to blackmail the idea of the national conference. In the piece, Akinlabi sought to idolize Tinubu. That is not anybody’s problem. He has the right to even worship him; after all, ours is a secular nation. But to elevate the former governor as the repository of all knowledge is very dangerous for us as a people. When Akinlabi argues that Tinubu’s position on the conference “resonates across the country,” I ask, which country? Even in Tinubu’s Southwest, genuine advocates of Sovereign National Conference (SNC) have welcomed President Jonathan’s decision to set up the advisory committee for the conference and are already putting their heads together to agree on the issues and agenda for discussion. If Tinubu and his minions are in any doubt, let them ask the Yinka Odumakins and Tunde Bakares of this world as well as other genuine pro-democracy activists. If genuine patriots in the Southwest, in the East and of course in the North insist they are ready for the talks, why is Tinubu deluding himself as the voice of Nigerians?
When Tinubu indicated in the Guardian Report, that he will discuss with his party on the issue of the national conference although he has made up his mind that the idea is a “Greek Gift”, what does he take Nigerians for? Of course it is common knowledge that Tinubu is not a democrat; he has no culture of dialogue. Whatever he says in his party-whether the provincial ACN or the newly coupled APC- is law. If Tinubu is against the convocation of the national conference, then it’s no brainer that APC will ultimately oppose the idea. That is tinubucracy.
In opposing the idea of the conference, Tinubu and his gang have been harping on the timing of the conference. What is really wrong with the timing of this conference? Only unpatriotic citizens and power mongers whose eyes are permanently fixed on the next election can be blind to what has happened to us as a people in the last two years. The very basis of our corporate existence has been severely questioned by such threats as the Boko Haram insurgency in the north, and the militant uprising in other places like Nasarawa; the killings in Plateau and Benue; the tough talking of resurgent militants in the creeks of the Niger Delta; and the supressed demand for self-determination in the Southeast by the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB). Even in Tinubu’s Lagos, there are pressures arising from the unconstitutional and forceful deportation of Nigerian citizens in their own country to the Southeast and various parts of the North. All these occurrences have seriously questioned the basis of our national existence, even more than the civil war of 1967-1970.
Let Tinubu and his hatchet writers be told that Nigeria is too big a country to be held back by the unfounded fears, whimsical suspicion and selfish interests of one man. Any politician who believes that his/her quest for power overrides every national aspiration certainly cannot be a statesman. And talking of suspicion about the intention and integrity of President Jonathan with regards to the national conference, how best can such fears be addressed (assuming they are real) than by appointing the very people who doubted the President ab-initio to the committee to work out the modalities for holding the conference? What is more, unlike in the failed attempts at conferencing in the past, President Jonathan has not imposed any no-go-area on the conference committee. What really do these people want from Jonathan? In what other way do Tinubu and his worshippers want the president to prove his sincerity on the national conference?
It is so sad that Akinlabi and his principal(s) have built their world and morals on money. That is why it is convenient for him to believe that every Nigerian is controlled and influenced by money especially, the ill-gotten type being used to finance his sophistry in the media. Why on earth should this Akinlabi man insult highly respected citizens like Professors Ben Nwabueze and Itsay Sagay, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, the Asagba of Asaba and other eminent Nigerians who are in support of the national conference by insinuating that “it is about money and the opportunity to be part of the Abuja crowd”?
I am still struggling to find the low let alone the “higher logic” in Tinubu’s position on the conference as claimed by Akinlabi. Instead of logic, what is evident is doublespeak. What is logical in asking us to return to the Obasanjo’s constitution review, which Tinubu rejected in 2006? When Tinubu and his people insist that the timing for the conference is wrong, those who read between the lines understand what they mean.
They can’t even hide their creeping jealousy of Jonathan. Remember, when the president decided to honour MKO Abiola, these people opposed it simply because Jonathan wanted to do what they had failed to do even after riding on the back of Abiola to limelight. The truth is that they cannot stand and watch the president score yet another goal in the transformation of Nigeria!
But we-the rest of us-must confront this burgeoning monstrosity, which parades itself as opposition’s clarion call against the conference, with all the patriotic zeal that we can muster in the national interest and not in the blind defence of the enlightened self-interest of some regional political warlords.
Ugboajah, writes from Abuja.
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