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National dialogue: NMA wants no restrictions

By The Rainbow

The Nigerian Medical Association has thrown its weight behind President   Goodluck Jonathan's proposed national dialogue, but advised there should not be restrictions as to areas of discussion.

NMA National President, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, made the position of the association known in Benin, Edo State, shortly after he led the leadership of the association on a courtesy visit to Governor Adams Oshiomhole on Sunday.

NMA posits that Nigerians from all walks of life should be given opportunity to freely participate in the discussions.

'We cannot afford to bungle this opportunity especially as Nigeria prepares to celebrate her centenary anniversary. Nigerians, irrespective of their political, ethnic or cultural persuasions must be allowed to make input,' Enabulele said.

Their position is similar to one canvassed by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), which is demanding that the unity of the country and its existence be discussed by the proposed national conference.

However, the National President of the TUC, Mr. Bobboi Kaigama, and the Secretary of the congress, Mr. Musa Lawal, said on Sunday that the outcome of the conference must represent the interest of the Nigerian citizenry and move the nation forward.

The TUC leadership also demanded the inclusion of a representative each from the Nigeria Labour Congress and the TUC in the confab committee led by Senator Femi Okurounmu.

According to the labour leaders, critical issues such as the revenue allocation, the system of governance and cost, power sharing formula, corruption and other issues considered inseparable from the nation's existence must be dealt with at the confab.

The duo also called on delegates to give due attention to the state of the nation's economy, the scourge of poverty, important sectors including power, health and education.

Kaigama and Lawal  urged the prospective delegates at the expected conference to display the virtues of statesmanship and maturity in discussing the issues of critical importance to the well being of the nation.

They also appealed to Nigerians to be considerate in articulating the interest of their constituents with due consideration to those of others without endangering the unity of the country.

'The congress anticipates that issues to be discussed at the conference to include the basis of our unity and existence as a nation, the system of government and the power-sharing formula, our geopolitical and fiscal federalism, citizenship, the electoral and representative system, the cost of governance, security, corruption, boundary adjustment and foreign policy, freedom of faith and other fundamental human rights.

'Similarly, we charge the delegates to conscientiously consider and take unequivocal resolutions on our economy and the poverty index, our roads and other means of transport, as well as power, education and health sectors.

'Nigerians expect the delegates to be mindful to display requisite broadmindedness and statesmanship in their dealings at the conference.

They said that the TUC was not against the National Dialogue proposed by the President considering the challenges confronting the nation.

Also, the outgoing Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Dr. Sunday Makinde, has called on the Federal Government not to postpone the planned national conference.

He said this during the investiture of Most Reverend Samuel Uche as the new prelate of the church on Sunday in Lagos.

He described the conference as a key factor for peace and unity of Nigeria.

Makinde said, 'Convergence of national conference is imperative for the country. If we do not hold it, we are postponing the evil day.'

He, however, called on the Federal Government to find a lasting solution to the ongoing strike embarked on by lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

however, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties has called on the President of the Senate, David Mark, to come to President Jonathan's rescue stopping the proposed national conference.

It made this call on Sunday in a statement where it argued that the proposed conference, from all intents and purposes, 'is diversionary, a bridge to no-where and which might be hijacked by ethnic merchants.'

In the statement signed by the CNPP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, the group said that the desires of Nigerians would not be achieved by the proposed conference, 'as ethnic merchants dominate the 13-man Prep-Committee and its intention is not sovereign.'

The statement read in parts, 'For the avoidance of doubt, Nigeria has never since after the civil war been as divided as it is now; we are in no doubt at a tipping-point of frustration and rudderless leadership.

'However, the solution to pervasive corruption, crass inequality, gross unemployment and mass poverty is not a conference bridge to no-where.

'Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Prof. Awalu Yadudu and other patriots had decried this unnecessary building of bridge to no-where.'

'It is not only going to split discussion into tribal jargons, but will not achieve critical legislations which Senator Mark promised Nigerians on June 6, 2011, during his inaugural speech as the second term President of the Senate and chairman of the National Assembly.

'The charter he reeled out then, like the Magna Charter of 1225, remains relevant today and can be legislated by the national and state assemblies to strengthen our federation, strengthen our economy, strengthen our institutions, reduce the cost of governance and fight corruption etc.

The CNPP, therefore, called on Mark to bail out President Jonathan and Nigerians by honouring the covenant he made to Nigerians, 'instead of supporting a conference bridge to no-where.'