Professor 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.
Leaders from the middle belt region including minority group representatives from the North East have gathered to articulate the region’s position in the forthcoming National Conference.
Opinion leaders from the middle belt states of Plateau, Kwara, Kogi, Benue, and Nassarawa as well as representatives from minority groups of North East states of Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Borno and Adamawa gathered in Jos, North Central Nigeria to discuss the region’s position and presentation with the theme, ‘Strategic Partnerships for the National Conference’.
Chairman of the Middle Belt Forum, Professor Jerry Gana, stressed the importance of the national dialogue and challenged the delegates to be critical in the deliberations on issues ranging from insecurity, economic downturn, poor leadership and poor governance among others.
Setting the tone for deliberations, he urged the delegates to consider the various topics for discussions with all seriousness for onward presentation to the conference.
Former Secretary to The Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae and former Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, in their contributions at the meeting noted that the proposed National Conference should be taken seriously for a better country.
Addressing the gathering, the Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang also reinstated the non-negotiable unity of the country at the proposed national dialogue.
The delegates were in different syndicate groups with topical issues on fiscal federalism, creation of states and local governments, systems of government, legislative powers, citizenship, citizenship rights and social safety nets for minorities, electoral systems and political party systems among others.
The conference was attended by prominent sons and daughters of the region including retired military officers, technocrats, as well as politicians and the academia.
Elders from the middle belt region of Nigeria have called on the federal government to fulfill their promise in providing security of lives and properties across the zones and the nation as a whole.
The president of the middle belt forum, Jerry Gana expressed concern on the rising tension in the region, in his visit to commensurate with the governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang.
Mr Gana also made it clear that violence will lead to no result, recalling government’s efforts in providing a lasting solution.
Mr Gana, who was in company of Bala Takaya, Zamani Lekwot, Joshua Dogonyaro, former deputy governors of Kogi and Nassarawa states and many others, expressed solidarity with plateau state and the bereaved.
Mr Jang expressed concern on involvement of foreign mercenaries in the crises in spite of the government’s outcry.
The forum is a clarion call to the federal government in providing adequate security to all citizens across the nation, in order to avoid citizens losing confidence in government’s ability to fulfill its constitutional responsibility, which can resort to self-defense and path to anarchy as a stitch in time saves nine.