A retired Army Colonel, Tony Nyiam, has decried the level of insecurity in the nation, stressing that the Nigerians are in a war situation.
He stated this on Monday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, where he regretted that senior military personnel would prefer travelling to Abuja by rail.
“The road between Ibadan and Ife is already ambushed. If the road between Abuja and Kaduna is so bad that Generals are avoiding that road and heading into the train, we are in a serious problem. We are in a war situation,” he said.
He lamented that state governors considered as the Chief Security Officers of their state can barely salvage the situation in the wake of attacks.
“I think the President himself has work to do. And luckily for us, for the first time, he has reflected. He made a statement two days ago which is very welcoming about federalism.
“There is a direct relationship with the what I will call “not fit for people’s constitution” we have now and the recurring national insecurity we are having.
“And I think the President has a duty to do. As much as he is talking about the service chiefs and the police, he himself has to start the constitutional reforms which will be to introduce things like state police. He needs to go further to introduce what we call Homeland Security,” he stated.
Nyiam also called for the introduction of self-defence mechanisms for the citizens to wade off security threats.
A delegate at the National Conference, Mr Tony Nyiam, on Monday, said that Nigeria would witness a new beginning if recommendations made at the Conference are implemented.
Allaying fears that not all the recommendations made would be implemented, the retired Army Colonel said, “there are policy resolutions, amendment of the law and fundamental constitutional reforms” noting that Nigeria had been practicing what he termed “indirect democracy; that is through delegates and/or members of the House of Representatives.
“For a change we need to resort to what is usually the case, direct democracy that is”, he said.
He emphasized the need for a referendum, “You cannot have a constitution without asking the people whether they want that constitution or not… without that process, you have an illegitimate constitution.
“We go by universal best practices where the fundamental amendment of a constitution that is not approved by the people, makes that constitution legal not legitimate”, he said.
Mr Nyiam, who was speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, further argued that “what we achieved and arrived at are so fundamental that they cannot be contained within the limit of amendment of the constitution.
“What we arrived (at) at this conference was that, for the first time, many people who had been under colonisation, are now being given the chance to be free.” He added that it would be counter-productive to take back the resolutions to “the protectors of the internal colonialism to prevent, that is something we cannot do”, insisting that “referendum is imperative”.
He also noted that “all the National Assembly needs to do is to pass an enabling bill and not interfere with the resolutions of the conference. Where a gathering of statesmen come up with what we have come up with, it will really be arrogant of the National Assembly to try and change what they have come up with”.
My Nyiam further maintained that it was highly imperative for Nigerians to decided whether they want to stick to the existing 1999 constitution or adopt a new constitution arising from the 2005 Conference.
He accused the military of deliberately creating states to “serve their own interests rather than the interest of the people” arguing that if Nigeria achieve the parity of nine states per zone, “It will go a long way of satisfying the yearnings of the people.”
He also said that the recommendations for state creation was arrived at to address the aspirations of ethnic-nationalities or people who have been dominated even before the British came to Nigeria.
The National Conference came to an end with delegates agreeing to change the document name formally known as the Draft Constitution to Proposed Amendment to 1999 Constitution, through a majority voice vote.
Northern delegates had rejected the Draft Constitution, saying it was a ploy to legitimize the third term agenda. While Southern delegates, on their part had said that it was unfortunate as there was nothing in the report that was not adopted by the entire conference through consensus.
The National Conference, which began on March 17, 2014, was formally declared closed by President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday, August 21, 2014.
There were about 492 delegates that represented a cross-section of Nigerians, including the professional bodies.
A member of the Security Committee of the National Conference, Mr Tony Nyiam, has called on other members of the conference to produce legislation that will change the political structure of the country.
He also warned that in the absence of the right political, economic structure, Nigeria will continue to witness the security crisis it is witnessing at the moment, noting that “today it is Boko Haram, tomorrow, it might be another thing”
Mr Nyiam further stated that “while we need to respond to the immediate military rapid response to what is going on now; we must not to lose focus”.
“We must stop this attitude of denying that our mode of co-existence engenders grievances and disgruntlement that can lead to violent expressions as we are now experiencing”.
He advocated for national security to take certain steps in order to be effective in the fight against insecurity.
He said “for national security to be national security, it must be spiritual, in the sense of freedom of worship, social, in the sense that people will determine how they want to live their lives, political where we stop paying lip service to free and fair elections and economic where we must realise that an economy, which does not allow room for manufacturing, for production” warning that “we will create massive gaps that people will exploit and now hit back at the same economy”.
Continuing, Mr Nyiam urged the police hierarchy to not only protect their corners or jobs adding that they need to realise that the police need to “that they need people to complement their efforts so that they can zoom in and protect and defend federal laws”.
Mr Nyiam who spoke during Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, debunked the notion that some members of the conference are there for selfish rather than national interests but challenged some members not to address issues of their own immediate needs.
He also called on Nigerians not to judge delegates by their past insisting that “those who people think are bad are the ones who have the knowledge of the intrigues that has taken us to where we are; so if you exclude them how do you think we can deal with the situation we have at hand” he asked.
He further called on all and sundry to stop the blame games and work for the betterment of the country.
Two Delegates at the National Conference, Tony Nyiam and Bisi Adegbuyi, have both said that their recommendation at the conference is a restructuring of Nigerian government to practice the federalism that accommodates its ethnic peculiarities.
Mr Nyiam said that ethnicity is an important part of Nigeria which cannot be separated from its existence. He said that Nigerians had been carried away by the federalism as practised in America but he believed that Nigeria should have an “Ethnic Federalism” where people’s ethnicities are well recognized.
He noted that America is a country of immigrants and Nigeria should not compare itself to such country. You cannot stop a Buku man from being one. He emphasized that Nigeria needs a return to the federalism that recognises its ethnicity.
Adegbuyi, although differed on the call for “Ethnic Federalism” as he said that “federalism is federalism all over the world” but he acknowledged that indeed, the way to go was for Nigeria to try and understand the agenda of each ethnicity and not to tag ethnicity as a divisive factor.
He noted that Nigeria’s past leaders and the colonial masters knew that Nigeria was made up of different nations and the country in its current state should not pretend about this reality. Citing the developments recorded by regional leaders in the 1960s, he said that empowering regional leadership would be more productive.
Nyiam also emphasized the need to move “from Fiscal Centralism to Fiscal Federalism”, a situation whereby the count
ry moves from the culture of sharing resources at the Federal level and focus on creating those resources.
He agreed with Mr Adegbuyi’s earlier statement on the need to decentralize the government and empower regional governance. He agreed that the system of governance as practised in Nigeria in the 1960s gave Nigeria its best records of development.
Secretary of the Arewa Youth, Ahmed Tijani, representing his organisation’s position on the programme, however, said that they were supporting the
conference because they believed that “half bread is better than none” noting that what they had called for was a sovereign national conference.
He further said, “There is no point in time that Nigeria should experience a breakup”, so “whoever is in the driving seat”
would need support to ensure this. He said that he hoped that at the end of the conference, something good would come out.
One of the delegates, Tony Nyiam, while expressing confidence in the conference and in the sincerity of President Jonathan was of the view that Nigerians were paying too much attention to the nomenclature of the conference.
Mr Adegbuyi, who is a legal practitioner, quoted Section 14 Subsection 2 of the 1999 Constitution which he said, gives the sovereignty of the country to the people, stating that this was also acknowledged by the President.
He stated that there was nothing that makes the ongoing conference less sovereign and that the misconception about the sovereignty of the country having been given to the National Assembly was an exaggeration of their roles.
Northern Elders’ Forum
Reference was also made to the position taken by the Northern Elders’ Forum, who have expressed their stance not to support the conference and dissociated themselves from the delegates at the conference.
Tijani said that the difference in their positions from the elders’ was because the elders are conservative while the youths are progressive. He added that while they do not totally disagree with the elders’ views, they would not tow same line because they are young, “We want change and we have to be for the conference so that things can move on”
On the possibility of the delegates having a unified discourse without ethnic sentiments, Tijani said that the Nigerian President should have made fixing the identity issues of Nigerians a priority ahead of the national Conference, citing the branding of all Northerners as Boko Haram as one of the examples of how many Nigerians still feel different from other Nigerians.
He also complained about the representation of youths at the conference as being too low for a country whose youth population is very high.
Although Adegbuyi disagreed on the youth representation, Nyiam agreed that the youths should be given focus especially in terms of empowerment. He said that the main sectors in which Nigeria derived pride had been held by the youths – entertainment, sports. Therefore, the country needs to go back to the system that allows the youths to flourish.
Adegbuyi, in conclusion, believes that the National Conference has the capacity to move Nigeria forward but the major focus should be how to achieve unity without sacrificing autonomy.
Former member of the Presidential Advisory Committee, Tony Nyiam, has explained the reasons for his outburst at the rowdy town-hall consultation on National Conference, which held in Edo state few weeks ago.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, on Monday, Mr Nyiam stated that the consultation is for the purpose of meeting with the people and getting their views on the proposed Dialogue and that the visit to the Governor was only done out of courtesy.
While narrating the events which led to Governor Oshiomhole being booed on stage, Nyiam said that the Edo governor had shifted his meeting with them which made the Committee delay a 12pm meeting the Oba of Benin had fixed to receive them.
“That made us to look unserious with the Oba of Benin,” he said.
He continued by saying that: Oshiomhole aired his views for about 40 minutes during the meeting which lasted 1 hour.
“He spoke for roughly 35 to 40 minutes, trying to lecture us on how we were mistaken and how unserious it is for anybody to convene a conference without having an agenda.”
He added that the Committee didn’t respond to him and thereafter left for the meeting with the Oba of Benin who said he was praying for the success of the Conference.
However, the initial delay by the Governor led to a 3 hour delay before the town-hall meeting began. “By virtue of this shifting of appointment by the governor, we had kept people waiting for over three hours.”
On arrival at the meeting which was attended by eminent people including ex-judges, journalists, ex-governors, including Alfred Diete-Spiff, the recurring theme of all the submissions presented was that “people wanted a conference of ethno-nationalities.”
Nyiam went ahead to make an example of Governor Mimiko who sat through the 5 hour meeting which held in Ondo state. He added that “he (Mimiko) respected the people to express themselves. He did not interfere.”
After two or three commentaries, he (Oshiomhole) then asked the Chairman allow him make a few comments before he leaves. “He started casting aspersions and making derogatory (remarks),saying that he can’t imagine how eminent people will be thinking in terms of ethno-nationalities.
Then people started grumbling. Eventually, the grumbling became booing. As they were booing him, it was becoming embarrassing for me.
Hence, Nyiam approached the Chairman and told him to moderate because the governor is not sensitive to the people’s opinion.
“As things were going on, Governor Oshiomhole was not sensitive to what was going on. The thing was carrying on and (I must tell you), I don’t how it came out of me and I said: oh no, not again. In fact, people in the audience didn’t even hear what I said,” he said.
“When I said that, his men charged on the table where I was. Then one (wearing) a black kaftan¸ came (with a punch). When he came close to me, I looked at him but I think God restrained him, he didn’t (do anything), but a younger guy came and then grabbed my stuff (papers).
That’s when I stood up and said: no, I cannot take this (and of course by my training, I couldn’t be intimidated).”
Four Zones out of six in Nigeria have declared their support for a National conference, the Presidential Advisory Committee on proposed National Dialogue has said.
A member of the committee, Mr Tony Uranta, told Channels Television on Sunday that the response the committee had received from people within the regions visited – North-central, south-west, south-east and south-south – showed that majority of Nigerians would want the proposed conference to hold.
Mr Uranta said that the committee’s meetings in the zones visited had been successful so far with the committee giving every individual an opportunity to speak.
“We have been instructed by the Nigerian President that there are no ‘No Go Areas’ as we dialogue with the people from the different zones and we have kept to that. Our duty is just to listen and not talk at all. We allow everybody to have a say as we tour the zones,” he said.
He decried the heckling down of the Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, during the dialogue session held in the South-south zone and stressed that the committee had apologised to the governor over the involvement of one of its members in the ‘undemocratic incident’.
“The committee sent a written apology to the governor. We are not supportive of anything that is undemocratic,” he stated.
Since the incident in Edo State, the committee member, Col Tony Nyiam, has not been seen with the committee, a development that has left people asking if he had resigned.
Mr Uranta described as political the positions of those who had once clamoured for a National Conference but turned around to kick against it when President Goodluck Jonathan constituted the committee.
He said that the Nigerian Senate showed their readiness to ensure that sovereignty was reposed on the people by debating on a bill that would put the outcome of the National Conference when it is held to the people through a referendum.
Questions Begging Attention
“The bill has been sent to the House of Representatives for harmonization,” he said.
Some Nigerians have expressed fears that the setting up of a committee on National Dialogue was a tactic to divert attention away from the issues and national questions begging attention now.
Responding to such claims, Mr Uranta said: “I do not know how a National Conference is going to stop governance.
“The points that have been troubling the Nigerian common man’s mind are; how does he get food? How does he get water? How does he get transport? And more than these, how does he get security?
“These are issues that the National Conference can answer and these are issues that any and every government should be supportive of.
“This nation can survive as a nation if we allow the opportunities for different shades of opinion to be thrown down. We will all smile at the end of the day.”
The committee is continuing its tour of the nation with a visit to Sokoto and other Northern states on Monday.
A retired military officer, Colonel Tony Nyiam, has welcomed the advice by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, to the federal government to declare an amnesty pogramme for Boko Haram sect members.
Retired Colonel Nyiam who was speaking as a guest on Channels television flagship programme, Sunrise, said “it is a welcome call, in the sense that the way to deal with counter insurgency or terrorism is usually a stick and carrot approach”.
He also commended the security agencies for being effective.
He said counter insurgency cannot be solved through the use of brute force, saying some of the set members have come forward to the Sultan to express readiness to dialogue and drop their arms.
Nyiam further asked the federal government to heed the voice of the northern leaders whom he said speak the minds of their people.
“In dealing with any crisis you have to be locally accountable and here is a statement by the Sultan of Sokoto, who in other words is the leader of that region, so it is the aspiration of that leader of that area, this is what we want’’.