National Confab: Analysts Express Optimism Despite Prevailing Issues

Prof. Joseph AbuguProfessor of Commercial and industrial law at the University of Lagos, Prof. Joseph Abugu, on Saturday expressed confidence in the outcome of the on-going National Conference despite the myriad of challenges it is faced with, especially the issue of composition.

Appearing on a segment of Channels Television’s Saturday breakfast programme, Sunrise, Abugu said “the National Conference as presently constituted is faulty in a number of respects but that is not to say nothing good can come out of it.

“Indeed, however poor Nazareth was, the messiah came from Nazareth,” he said, maintaining that something good can still come out of the National Conference however faulty the composition may be.

On the 70 percent voting majority rule which was agreed upon by delegates at the Conference, following a major disagreement which threatened the success of the meeting, Abugu stressed that the voice of the minorities of the Niger Delta, South-South and Middle-belt would be drowned by the 3 main ethnic nationalities, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa.

He noted that “a lot of the discontent in present day Nigeria is with respect to the interest of minorities” hence the inability of the Conference to help the minorities have their say would still not solve the nation’s problems.

On his part, the President, Association of University French Lecturers in Nigeria, Prof. Tunde Fatunde highlighted the importance and significance of the National Conference which is being held during the centenary celebration of the amalgamation treaty.

“It is very significant in the sense that no nation is natural; all nations are products of wars” hence the Conference is in line with what has happened in other nations of the world, as a means of seeking the way forward.

He agreed that “the minority question is extremely very important in the history of Nigeria” as the leaders of the minorities prevented the disintegration of the nation in 1966, in the first and second coups.

“The bulk of the fighting ranks of the Nigerian Military are mostly from the Middle Belt” while “the Niger Delta is the bread winner of Nigeria, in terms of crude oil”. Fatunde credited these factors as two major things that keep the nation going.

He however stressed that there are other fundamental issues to be addressed including fiscal federalism and the role of education in Nigeria’s 21st century, stressing that the nation’s resources must be used in building human capacity via education and training.

Fatunde opined that if these two issues were properly addressed, the issue of minorities would have been solved as the development of the nation as a whole would take the front-burner.

Contributing to the conversation, a social commentator, Sam Emefiele, said the only way to make progress in the Conference and as a nation is through sincerity of purpose. He noted that corruption, which the nation decries, is a product of dishonesty.

He argued that ethnic, religious, political and all forms of sentiments have been exhibited at the Conference, maintaining that the delegates are there to serve selfish interests.

He berated those who complained that the composition of the Conference was skewed in favour of Christians, noting that religion has been one of the major problems of the country.

However, he said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome of the Conference.

South-east leaders demand to produce president in 2015

South-east leaders are demanding that they have a turn at the helm of power during the 2015 presidential elections.

Prominent leaders of the region converged in Abuja to discuss the pressing issue of producing a president in the 2015 race and convener Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife insisted that “rotation has meaning only in the context of six geopolitical zones”.

He argued that for the rotation system to be fair the south east must be given a turn at “producing the President”.

Presidential power is subjected to a zoning system in Nigeria, a method that was adopted to enable both the north and south ends get a chance at producing the President. So far, the South East feels rather excluded from the rotation.

“Five zones have so far had more than five years of being in power,” Dr. Emenife said, adding that the geopolitical zoning system, which has been criticised as ineffective can be scraped only after south east has had its turn at the most powerful seat in the country.

“We will go to every nook and crane, persuading Nigerians to give us teh chance that is due to us as Igbo people,” Emenife said.

He added that after gathering support, south east leaders will look amongst themselves to decide on a representative in the 2015 general elections.

“Some people will indicate interest, we will process them and select who we thing will do the best for Nigeria,” Emenife said.