NATIONAL CONFERENCE : THE PATCHWORK NATION
Between March 30 and May 20, Nigerians would be treated to another bizarre macabre drama of constructional patchwork - one that passes for a patch of ice on the road to nation-forming.
Bearing in mind the charge of pessimism on my part, President Jonathan's national conference must be seen for what it is: an ominous blitheness that leads only to blind alley.
The proposed patches to the nation's 1999 noxious military constitution is a further autocracy and subversive contraption of President Goodluck Jonathan's uncharitable engagement to beef up support for his stranded and evaporated Presidential ambition.
A lot of banal gimmicks have been infused into the nation's political space since President Jonathan's body language suggests his readiness to cling on to power.
The national conference is one of them.
Those who will fall for the booby trap will have a date with history as less discerning who decidedly turned a blind eye to an overt chasm of a political actor and a dried opportunist, who suddenly found a seemingly escape route in a clumsy political road.
I'm not certain how many Nigerians would trust President Jonathan on his "good intentioned" National Conference or Senator Ayim Pius Ayim, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Interestingly, Anyim Pius Anyim was the Senate President at the formative stage of the present Fourth Republic from August 2000 up to May 2003 while President Olusegun Obasanjo held the nation to the jugular without the merest angst against the perilous document called the Nigerian Constitution.
He was the leading light of the blatant military aberration criminally paraded as the constitution foisted on a democratic nation without remotely or openly demanding for wholesale development of a people's construction.
There is no question as to whether nations should have the right to hold national conference.
But the question is should they hold? If there must be one, whose interests? Does the wording of the national conference determine the outcome? Who wins? Then what is a Nation? Ernest Renan, an 1882 French historian and essayist defined a nation as "a daily referendum", and that nations are based as much on what the people jointly forget, as what they remember.
It is frequently quoted or anthologized in works of history or political science pertaining to nationalism.
Granted that we have seen in history countries like Turkey and Bohemia where there is rigid stratification, or where different communities are played off against one another, and where the homogenization of different groups could not take place, resulting in a failure of nationhood.
The latter is permissible in modern times where the sovereign will of the people override the elitist subversion of state craft and where the people's differences are irreconcilable.
The essence of a nation is that the people have many things in common, but have also forgotten much together, according to Renan.
No French citizen knows if he is Burgundian, Alain, Taifale, Visigoth; every French citizen must have forgotten the St.
Bartholomew's Day massacre and the massacres in the Midi in the 13th century.
The trouble with Nigeria from colonial days to date is that its leadership had never allowed the citizenry to privately or collectively express their desire to live together.
This is paramount in a nation in proportion to the sacrifices to which the people consented or the harms that they suffered together.
The will to continue to value their togetherness or otherwise, the shared heritage or otherwise, whether they have had glorious moments in common in the past or otherwise, a common will in the present or otherwise, whether they have done great things together and to wish to do more together or otherwise.
These are the pre-conditions for a people to continue to live together.
This is the missing link.
We are not so sure how Anyim Pius Anyim comes to the conclusion that the 492 delegates to President Jonathan's Nation Conference is a true reflection and sacrosanct representation of over 160 million Nigerians.
The questions on the lips of many Nigerians are, why is the Presidency involved in a national frivolity whose outcome will not be subjected and validated by referendum? Who can trust President Jonathan or Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and the manipulative PDP machine to guarantee restriction of a rampaging Presidency from stealing and appropriating the people's voices in the national conference? Now, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, with a cynical mindset, armed with Presidency fiat is barking savagely on Nigerians that we must shallow intact, President Jonathan's modalities for a nation-becoming, called the national conference.
Anyim should have by now become deafened by his own voice as it bounces back from the stone wall of resistance, indifference and outright rejection to his no-go-zone as was the case with President Olusegun Obasanjo's fraudulent national conference.
It's not immediately clear how President Goodluck Jonathan hopes to build a modestly viable edifice he called "Transformation Agenda" or a strong nation without first laying the bases for its proper reconstruction from this.
Those who think they can erect a future without first ridding the ground of past debris fly against the natural order of regeneration.
They carry with them negative baggage that already conflicts with the envisioned "Transformation Agenda".
Even my little daughter, Iria knows that, before the erection of a simple farm hamlet, the ground, large or small, has to be cleared, the debris burnt or ploughed back into the ground where it is converted into entirely new matter or disposed of in such a manner that it loses its earlier capacity to obstruct, compromise or endanger the new edifice.
President Goodluck Jonathan did not think so.
He thinks only of self-beneficial minimal restructuring of the country that truly subverts and suppresses the people's resolve on what country they want to leave in and how such country should be wished into existence, and its probable governance.
President Jonathan is aware that in the absence of a true Sovereign National Conference, something else takes it place - a tyrannical monstrosity that violates the civil rights of the people to chose their country and their rights to be govern aright.
Such is the modalities reeled out to Nigerians by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF); Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue Conference, Senator Femi Okunronmu; and Permanent Secretary, Office of the SGF, Dr.
Linus Awute, a few days ago during a press conference on the modalities of the forthcoming National Conference in Abuja.
The official name of the conversation/conference shall be "The National Conference"; The National Conference shall hold in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; The National Conference shall tentatively last for three months and shall discuss any subject matter, except the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation, therefore the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable; A Conference Management Secretariat shall be established to manage, administer and run the affairs of the conference; Decisions at The National Conference shall be by consensus; But where it is not achievable, it shall be by 75 per cent majority; The National Conference shall advise the government on the legal framework, legal procedures and options for integrating the decisions and outcomes of The National Conference into the constitution and laws of the country; and The National Conference shall have a chairperson and a deputy chairperson of unimpeachable integrity.
To start with, President Jonathan does not need to restrict Nigerians or sets forbidding modalities if he is truly committed to the formation of art of consensual aggregation to chart a cause for true nationhood.
Inasmuch as mountains and valleys don't know how to build or cave out countries, the people whose destiny is at stake cannot be prevented from doing so on such geographical space.
A very important element of nationhood, says Renan, is the desire to continue forming part of the nation.
The existence of a nation (you will pardon me this metaphor) is a daily referendum, just as the continuing existence of an individual is a perpetual affirmation of life.
This leads Renan to the conclusion that "A nation never has a veritable interest in annexing or keeping another region against the wishes of its people".
In other words, areas such as states or provinces which wish to secede, should be permitted to do so.
"If doubts arise about national borders, consult the population of the area in dispute.
They have the right to an opinion on the issue.
" Mr Jonathan's modalities for the Nigerian nationhood does not include the people's rights to validate - through referendum in an election - that will not be subjected to the PDP manipulative machines.
The outcome of the so-called "National Conference" will be rectified through consensus or by 75 per cent of the selected 492 delegates, in the words of Anyim Pius Anyim.
Therein lies the affront and impunity on Nigerians.
No matter what, President Jonathan's "good intentions" is not good enough for us.
What does is cost a determined leadership to conduct an acceptable referendum in the interests of the populace and the nation-being? Why waste humongous sum in ten of hundred of billion in a frivolous outing whose out coming will be derided by future governments? For love of country, there is need to focus critically on the spiritual principle, as opposed to race, religion, geography, war lost or war won, if President Goodluck Jonathan wishes to deadened his dangerous politics; including constitutional subversion.
Violent political ambition such as his, is capable of hewing Nigeria to the dust.
The nation's survival is far more greater than President Jonathan's vaunting ambition and the PDP's everlasting claims to raw political power.
Written By Erasmus Ikhide