With the proposed composition of “The National Conference” as outlined by Pius Anyim in his news conference at the unveiling of the modalities for the conference, there seems to be no point in convoking the conference at all. It will cheaper for the country and easier for Goodluck Jonathan and his pipers to commission the ‘Nwabueze Committee’ to draft a new constitution incorporating all and everything they demand and submit to the president for ratification. This way, it will be easier for them to restructure the country in their image. They can then inform the National Assembly for their information after the draft has been ratified and proclaimed as the constitution for the country. I would presumptuously suggest the committee be headed by Ben Nwabueze with Tony Nyiam as secretary and Asemota as vice chairman.
With the president nominating about 114 out of the proposed 492 delegates, we then begin to see how the 75% consensus could be obtained. Jonathan and his cohorts are not going to leave anything to chance. They are therefore ready to rig the process ab initio. Where you have the president given the power to nominate 46 delegates; federal government to nominate 26; this is just same difference to me. And then the president is to nominate for states where the governors may decide to boycott the jamboree. Therefore, with the president’s direct nominations, the federal government’s “share” and the anticipated boycott of APC states and the nomination of the chairman, vice chairman and secretary for the conference, it is enough to make the whole shindig non-representative and therefore not better than the much maligned defective ‘military constitution’ it is supposed to fix.
Knowing the president’s pedigree and his notorious apathy to other parts of the country, and the antecedents of his closest advisers, one doesn’t need to be a stargazer to guess the outcome of the talk show. The barely hidden agenda of Jonathan for the restructuring of the country has never been in doubt. I salute the steadfastness of those hiding behind the cluelessness and incompetence of the man to actualise their lifelong dream of shaping Nigeria into their own narrow vision of what it should be. The nomination of Nwabueze (Asemota) and Tony Nyiam in the Advisory Committee gave an indication as to how the president wants the country to look like post the conference. When an Igbo irredentist, later replaced by provincial ethnic jingoist whose horizon has never gone beyond the creeks of the Niger Delta; and a frustrated, dismissed military officer whose career was truncated by his misadventure in breaking up the country in the past, then you need to look far to understand what Jonathan wants.
The proposed manner, in which the delegates to the conference are to be selected in my opinion, is just another way of adopting Nwabueze’s proposal of being allowed to write a draft constitution for the country. this allegation was not denied by either the president or Nwabueze. If on the other hand, the conference is not meant to achieve a predetermined outcome, then why won’t it be shifted till next year, well after the general elections to enable INEC conduct elections on the basis of federal constituencies so that Nigerians will the peoples’ constitution that we have been inundated with in the past 20 years. While it is generally agreed that our current constitution has some defects, the product of Jonathan’s conference will be worst than what we now have in all its ramifications. But I am assuming the president truly wants to fix a defective document and not impose his will on Nigerians.
The adoption of nominations by the president presages the gravest danger to the north, particularly at his stage when they believe the north is on its knees politically and economically. Some of those whom the president is allowed to nominate are what are referred to as ‘statesmen’, but who defines a statesman? Why should the president be allowed to nominate ‘statesmen’ for the zones? Do I qualify to be called a statesman? Using universally accepted definitions of a statesman, do Edwin Clark, Tanko Yakassai or the Chairman of National of Road Transport Workers qualify as statesmen. In my humble opinion, they all belong in the same category.
The excuse of not electing delegates to the conference doesn’t hold water, to me anyway. If we can find $49.8 billion to steal, I don’t believe it could be hard to find N22 billion for INEC to conduct the elections for the delegates.
Mr. Toungo, a public affairs commentator, writes from Abuja