A conference steeped in anachronism
Let me be very frank with you all. I don’t believe in the ongoing National Conference holding at the National Judicial Institute in Abuja. My stance has nothing to do with geo-politics, inferiority complex, or even the much touted sense of vulnerability I am supposed to have been born with, in my capacity as a ‘parasitic blood-sucking northerner’ if we accept the popular image of the average northerner in some quarters.
I seriously think it is an absolute waste of time, and I have nothing but maximum sympathy for the many fine gentlemen not so delicately assembled for the conference, especially the scores of septuagenarians and octogenarians consciously or unconsciously lured from their comfortable retirement to partake in the circus that is certain to lead nowhere, or at best, end up in fisticuffs among those still fit enough to throw a punch.
And when that happens it would be for reasons that are all too predictable. Among the so-called delegates, is a certain Anthony Nyam, one of the soldiers that brutally attempted to excise five northern states from the federation on the night of April 22, 1990. Many fine officers from both sides were lost in that bloody misadventure, which, like most other needless bloody military coups in the past, left a big scar on our collective psyche.
Now, only in a failed state like Nigeria, or one so steeped in endless controversies, can the same Nyam, who was summarily convicted of high treason by a competent Military Tribunal in 1990, and who also exhibited wanton indiscipline at one of the sittings of the Conference Planning Committee in Benin, be listed among delegates at a Conference the conveners continue to insist is intended to solidify the nation’s unity!
The same Nyiam, we must not forget, had to forfeit his membership of the Committee following the stringent protest of the rest of its members. Today, he is fully ensconced in the Conference Hall determined to shape the nation in his image.
Thus far, the conference has also given sufficient proof that Nigeria remains a country where even the most innocent act – such as the private prayer uttered by its Chairman Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi before the commencement of proceedings the other day – could be met by nauseating indignation, abuse, and needless grandstanding.
And yet, incredibly, the same delegate – Pastor Tunde Bakare - who objected to the prayer because it was uttered in Arabic, as indeed it should for a Muslim to express its bare essence - later confessed that he knew its exact meaning having been raised a Muslim himself. So what was the purpose of his protest? The prayer in question was not expressed on behalf of the entire delegates. It was but a simple private prayer, uttered in a single sentence, as is expected of every Muslim before the commencement of any major function. Was it because it was uttered in Arabic? What would happen to the entire proceedings if all the Muslim delegates in the Conference Hall pretended they didn’t understand a word of English? Why must we enmesh every rational act in politics or needless religiosity?
Where is the statesmanship expected from delegates of that nature? What sort of positive contributions can we expect from the likes of Anthony Nyam, Ganiyu Adams, Edwin Clark and the other ethnic jingoists shamelessly congregated for this conference determined by nothing but insatiable greed and selfishness? The Lamido of Adamawa overstepped his boundaries with his comments in the opinion of many the other day, but royals like him are not known to lose their cool without sufficient justification.
This conference, going by the lope-sided choice of delegates in favour of the south, is nothing but a carefully disguised ruse to further impoverish the north with all its mountains of self-inflicted problems. I am one hundred percent convinced that with heated debate over the voting mode, this may turn out to be yet another confab in which the north will be compelled to make far-reaching concessions without getting anything tangible in return.
At similar conferences in the past the north failed to see the dangers the six regional structures foisted on it posed to its internal cohesiveness and also gleefully accepted rotational presidency which made nonsense of its superior numbers. It was as if the region was represented by clowns. Worst could come out of this conference the way even the Chairman’s opening prayer was turned into a contentious issue. The north may even forfeit the right to breath, who knows?
Nigeria has its problems, no doubt, but we have never required conferences of this nature to resolve them, except of course, there is more to it than we know. Every right thinking Nigerian alive today knows what our major problems. They include abysmal leadership, indiscipline and monumental corruption added to a docile followership that routinely fails to exhibit responsible citizenship when it counts.
If Nigerians can somehow summon the courage to confront all four of these problems, the hundreds of others that originate from them will be eliminated without the slightest doubt. What we have in progress cannot solve those problems. It is undermined by the presence of too many ethnic jingoists and regional chauvinists who have everything but Nigeria on minds. Except we delude ourselves, how can the same delegates work to strengthen our union?
But Nigerians in general must take the blame for the way our country has unravelled before our very eyes. The four problems I stated earlier are major, without a doubt, but the average Nigerian is also docile, too easily hoodwinked or swayed by deceitful politicians. We routinely invoke God to resolve our problems without lifting a finger to help ourselves. That is why we ended up with this conference of ethnic nationalities comprised of Lilliput’s in the age of fast emerging major economic power blocks that are set to determine the global agenda for the next millennia.
This conference is an anachronism, and all rational Nigerians must bow their heads in shame that at a time we should be aspiring to rank among the major global players in economic and political clout, we are engaged in primitive squabble at home that could further weaken our fragile union.
The South-south will demand for the control of all its oil resources. The Southwest will insist on true federalism. The Southeast appears confused somewhat in my opinion because contrary to popular opinion, given its limited landmass, and the mercantile nature of their people, they need the Nigerian market more than the rest of the nation needs them if only they knew it.
As for the North, well, whether we accept it as a fact or not, the Lamido of Adamawa has already defined our agenda. Decades of insults, abuses, blackmail and slander appear to have finally taken their toll on the psyche of the average northerner, including myself. Many will not care if the nation disintegrates tomorrow. But before that happens, there is the little matter of correcting the serious blunder committed by the Na’Abbaled National Assembly in the abrogation of the onshore-offshore oil dichotomy.
To align with international laws on the matter, the dichotomy must be fully restored by the delegates at this conference before we commence carving up the remainder of the Nigerian real estate in the image of Nyiam, Ganiyu Adams, Edwin Clark, and the Lamido.