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Supporters of SNC asking for civil war – North

By The Rainbow

Two Northern groups – Arewa Consultative Forum(ACF) and of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen - have said that empanelling a Soverign National Conference (SNC) as being clamoured for by people will not solve Nigeria's problems, but rather compound it.

While Publicity Secretary of ACF (the umbrella body of Northern Nigeria)  Mr. Anthony Sani, said the proposed sovereign national conference may not achieve the goals for which it will be convoked, the National Coordinator of the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, was more blatant. He said the proponents of the conference are asking for another civil war.

Both spoke with a Lagos based national newspaper, SUNDAY PUNCH, on Friday.

Sanni said that contrary to some not opinions, the North would not oppose a national conference, as long as Nigerians wanted it.

He said, 'I have told you that SNC amounts to passing a vote of no confidence on our democracy and its institutions, which no group has the right to do. I honestly do not know how they hope to ensure that all  ethnic nationalities will be represented, considering that there is no consensus on the number of ethnic nationalities let alone how they can be represented to the satisfaction of all.

'I say this because some people talk as if the current legislators are representatives of not people but ghosts.

'If Nigerians want a national dialogue, who is ACF to say no, more so, the resolutions of the conference must still go through the legislature in order to find accommodation in the constitution.

'ACF has made it clear that the problems of Nigeria has nothing to do with soundness of the laws but with the unwillingness of the operators to live up their responsibilities. And this has been brought about by the collapse of national ideals, moral values and total collapse of social contract among groups and individuals.'

Sani added that people do not know that those who seek to redefine democracy outside its three elements of liberty, justice and common decency are trying to redefine the truth or evil.

Mohammed, on his part,  said the conference  would not solve the problems of corruption, illiteracy and poverty facing the country and noted that such national conferences had  yielded negative results in countries such as Niger Republic, Benin Republic, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He said, 'The most spectacular failure of the national conference system is that of DR Congo. DR Congo is a big country with big problems. It's a classical example of what you call a failed state. They held a sovereign national conference with so much fanfare. At the end of the day, what they had was not only a coup but a revolution.

'So, I have news for those who believe national conference is the panacea for the problems of Nigeria. Most of the problems of Nigeria today are contextual problems. The sovereign national conference in Nigeria will not solve the problems of corruption, illiteracy and poverty. It will not give an honest and realistic government and it will not give a sincere and responsible revenue allocation formula. These are the problems of Nigeria.

'No country, so far, has disintegrated peacefully. What they are asking or demanding is that we go through another civil war. If they want that, they are more than welcome. But they should be man enough to come out and say we want to disintegrate this country and we are prepared for the consequences. The first consequence is war; the second is the attendant consequences of war. We don't have anything to fear.'

Mohammed argued that the North had far more advantage over the South, when it comes to war, stating that any set of people who attempt to disintegrate the country would be crushed in the way of Biafra.

'The last time the Igbo carried out their own coup, in which they killed people from other ethnic groups and there was retaliation and they started talking about war, we had war. Who lost? They did.

Over one million lives were lost and over 90 per cent of them were Igbo. And the people who instigated the Igbo to go to war were Lagosians. When they took up the challenge, these people withdrew from them. If they want that now, I wish them good luck' he said.

The umbrella body of northern Nigeria, Arewa Consultative Forum, has said the proposed sovereign national conference may not achieve the goals for which it will be convoked.

It said the problem with the country was not the constitution, federal structure or form of government but the lack of political will by stakeholders.'

At the plenary last Tuesday, the Senate President, Mr. David Mark had said, 'Sense of discontentment and alienation in some quarters has fuelled extremism, apathy and predictions of catastrophe for the nation.'

'A conference of Nigeria's ethnic nationalities, called to foster frank and open discussions of the national question, can certainly find accommodation in the extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution which guarantee freedom of expression, and of association. It is welcome.'