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A long memo to the national dialogue conference

Source: pointblanknews.com
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By Muhammad Ajah
Coming from the most neglected, dejected, suppressed, denied, relegated,

mocked, downtrodden and unwanted minorities of the Nigerian nation, I

should have been convinced by a reluctant conscience that this effort of

writing a memo to a Nigerian National Dialogue Conference (NNDC) would be

a trash. Maybe, as irrelevant as I and my people have been

unpatriotically, surreptitiously or overtly regarded by other components

of Nigeria, this will end up being a garbage, however heavy, in the

assembly of people who do not recognize minorities and do not care or fear

about the patience of the oppressed.
Well, it is said that a single written idea is better that many unwritten

books. Again, it is better to explode with a conviction than to die with

a simplest idea that can effect a change however long. Most sincere

Nigerians, like most great revivalists and revolutionists, struggle for a

change that will live after them i.e. come into effect long after they

have gone.
This is because for a full hundred years of the creation of Nigeria, 53 of

which Nigeria has remained a so-called independent nation, many solutions

have been proffered by many Nigerian individuals and groups on how to

place the nation among the comity of united, stabilized and developed

nations. It is hard to believe that the more prescription is given, the

sicker the nation becomes. Heads of state, presidents, philosophers,

technicians, socio-cultural, socio-political and religious establishments

have analyzed, talked, discussed, dialogued and deliberated on the

Nigeria's question in many fora. What do Nigerians expect from this?

Never a pessimist! Why should I be, especially coming for the unheard,

unnoticed and nay unwanted minority in Nigeria. It is unarguable that any

Nigerian president since 1914 and from 1960 has ever thought that there is

any minority from the Igbo extraction worthy of mention at Lugard's House

or Aso Rock, not to talk of recognition. General Yakubu Gowon, as then the

Head of State, liked a minority leader of Igbo extraction, Sheikh Ibrahim

Nwagui. That's just all I can remember. Igbo man a Muslim! He must be a

kparawu! Hausa man a Christian! He has chosen a true path! Yoruba man a

Muslim or Christian! Good omen!
I have never seen a people so neglected. I have never seen a people so

plotted against. I have never seen a people whose crosses are totally left

to them to carry by themselves in a nation where God created them like

other inhabitants. And I have not seen a people whose cries are hardly

heard by even their brethren in faith and fraternity.

This memo to those who have been chosen, by merit or demerit, to gather

and dialogue on behalf of ALL NIGERIANS is intricate. They are going to be

our National Assembly for the number of days that would be. They are going

to collect taxpayers' money. So, this is a difficult task because it is

believed that a lot of Nigerians are too self-centered. If not, a nation

with 109 distinguished senators and 360 honourable members of House of

Representatives at the National Assembly would have changed this country

to good. Unfortunately, there are those who collect fat amounts but do not

contribute anything to the nation up-making, year in year out.

The membership of the conference is more in number than the membership of

the National Assembly. With their assistances, drivers and aides, the

number may surpass the number of National Assembly staff. It may well be

that Abuja is going to face traffic and accommodation challenges during

the period of the conference. It is therefore hoped that the effect of the

Abacha one-million man march will be less. It is also hoped that the 2005

national conference will not be referred to better, despite the walkouts

by several interest groups.
Nonetheless, the leadership of the 492-member conference is made of known

Nigerians. The conference Chairman, Justice Idriss Legbo Kutigi, Deputy

Chairman Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Secretary Dr. (Mrs.) Valerie Azinge,

Assistant Secretary, Conference Proceedings Dr. Akilu Indabawa, Assistant

Secretary, Finance & Administration Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and Assistant

Secretary, Media and Communications Mr. James Akpandem are Nigerians who

the citizens know their contributions to the nation building in their

different capacities. The ship they are going to captain shortly is

NIGERIA and they have no option than to be extraordinarily careful not to

wreck it under whatever pressure, lobbying or force. Rather, it would be

honourable to resign midway if integrity is to be compromised and a

pullout becomes inevitable.
Yes, never a pessimist! Let me explore what have been going inside the

minds of Nigerians earlier before this national conference. The question

is: What is the cure for Nigeria? Is it faith and piety? Is it

selflessness? Is it patriotism or chauvinism? Is it real self reliance? Is

it human beings with feelings for other existences? Is it individuals who

can look beyond their own feet? Is it justice and fairness? Is it love for

death and hatred for life? Is it disamalgamation? What is it that can cure

Nigeria???
Nigerian leaders have proffered solutions to the nation's multi-faceted

problems. Let's look at the positions of Nigerians, with emphasis on the

common points. President Goodluck Jonathan, in a national broadcast on the

Centenary celebration said the creation of Nigeria and sustenance of its

unity are sacrosanct. “I have often expressed the conviction that our

amalgamation was not a mistake. While our union may have been inspired by

considerations external to our people; I have no doubt that we are

destined by God Almighty to live together as one big nation, united in

diversity. Unification was followed by independence and democracy which

have unleashed the enormous potentials of our people and laid the

foundation for our nation's greatness.”
“In challenging times, it is easy to become pessimistic and cynical. But

hope, when grounded in realism, enables and inspires progress. I believe

that it is vital that we focus our thoughts on the vast potentials of a

unified and progressive Nigeria; and build on the relative stability of

the Fourth Republic to achieve accelerated national socio-economic

development. I also believe that the future greatness of our country is

assured by the favourable tail winds of a resilient population, ecological

diversity, rich natural resources and a national consciousness that rises

above our differences. We are a unique country. We have been brought

together in a union like no other by providence. Our nation has evolved

from three regions to thirty six states and a Federal Capital Territory.”

“My call for the National Conference in this first year of our second

century is to provide the platform to confront our challenges. I am

confident that we shall rise from this conference with renewed courage and

confidence to march through the next century and beyond, to overcome all

obstacles on the path to the fulfillment of our globally acknowledged

potential for greatness. The coming National Conference should not be

about a few, privileged persons dictating the terms of debate but an

opportunity for all Nigerians to take part in a comprehensive dialogue to

further strengthen our union. I am hopeful that the conference will not

result in parochial bargaining between competing regions, ethnic,

religious and other interest groups but in an objective dialogue about the

way forward for our nation and how to ensure a more harmonious balance

among our three tiers of government.”
In his a message to the nation on December 25, 2012 President Goodluck

Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, as in many other fora observed that the lessons of

Jesus Christ's mission on earth have great significance for Nigerians as a

people and there can be no doubt that all Nigerians, irrespective of their

religious beliefs, can draw immense strength and inspiration from the

Christ's enduring personification of selflessness, dedication to duty, and

commitment to the well-being of others.
In another massage to the nation at the 2013 May Day celebration Wednesday

1st May, President Goodluck Jonathan said, diversifying the economy away

from the oil sector into agriculture, housing, manufacturing, creative

industries, and other sectors that generate jobs and grow the economy has

long being a national goal.
In his address at the Special Convention of the People's Democratic Party

(PDP) at Eagle Square, Abuja, Saturday, 31st August, 2013, he identified

among others job and wealth creation through the local content law,

massive investment in the oil and marine business, provision of power for

development, gender equality, security of lives and properties of the

citizenry, fight against corruption, poverty and destitution and upholding

the tenets of democracy for national unity, equity and justice as

ingredients for growth and stability.
“We must insist on justice and equity. We must insist on defending Nigeria

from those who threaten her in words and deeds. We are a nation in God's

hands and we must keep it so”, the President noted in the 69th point of

his speech.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in a letter to President goodluck

Jonathan had this to say, “We must all remember that corruption, inequity

and injustice breed poverty, unemployment, conflict, violence and

wittingly or unwittingly create terrorist because the opulence of the

governor can only lead to the leanness of the governed. But God never

sleeps; He is watching, waiting and bidding His time to dispense justice.

In a democracy, leaders are elected to lighten the burden of the people,

give them freedom, choice and equity and ensure good governance. Nothing

should be done to undermine the tenets, and values of democratic

principles and practice.”
“The virtues and ideals of peace, tolerance, faithfulness, honesty,

justice, fairness, true wisdom, knowledge and understanding which Jesus

taught and exemplified also remain very relevant to us in Nigeria as we

continue to grapple with the challenges of development and

nation-building.”
One former Head of State, General Muhammad Buhari, GCFR at his party's CPC

National Convention in Abuja on May 11, 2013 lamented over an

unprecedented fall in the nation's standard of living and an astronomical

rise in the standard of dying, believing that Nigeria has become a nation

in which nothing works as it should or works at all.

“They promised to give the nation credible elections…They promised to

fight corruption…They promised to stop the insurgency…henceforth our votes

must all be counted…never again tolerate or allow to pass the mayhem the

government deliberately creates in order to cover up its guilt, obscure

the issues and then blame the opposition in order to deceive gullible

folks.”
In a communiqué titled 'Strengthening the Unity of Nigeria', issued after

a meeting of the leaders and elders of the South-South and South-West

regions held at the Efunyela Hall in Ikenne Remo, Ogun State home of Chief

Obafemi Awolowo,
the group observed that war against corruption without fear or favour must

be paramount. The meeting attended by highly placed Nigerians such as

Chief Edwin Clark, Senator Felix Ibru, the Obong of Calabar, His Royal

Majesty, Dandeson Douglas, a former Petroleum Minister and Amanyanabo of

Nembe, Dr Edmund Daukorie, Professor Saleba Mukoro, the Orodje of Okpe,

His Royal Majesty Major-General Felix Mujakperuo (rtd) a former Inspector

General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro, Rear Admiral F.B.I Porbeni,

Brigadier-General S. E Oviawe, Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw, the Ooni of

Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade as well as many royal fathers from the South

West zone, Chief Olu Falae; Lieutenant General Oladipo Diya; Professor

Oladapo Afolabi; Professor (Mrs) Adenike Grange, Senator Femi Okurounmu,

Professor Tunde Adeniran; Chief Shuaib Oyedokun, Chief Gani Adams, Rear

Admiral Akin Aduwo, called on Nigerians to support the probe of the

activities of the fuel subsidy and sanitization of the entire oil and gas

industry that has always created overnight briefcase billionaires at the

expense of the masses and enjoined the president to commence steps at

reducing the cost and size of governance branches of government.

In a communiqué after an International conference on Biafra Greenbelt ,

Maryland on October 18, 2003, delegates resolved on the possibilities of

forming a government in exile in six months if the federal government

failed to organize a conference of ethnic nationalities, in order for

these nationalities to decide how they want to associate with one another.

They believed that the first post War International Conference on Biafra

was concluded with the agreement that the conditions that led to the

Biafra-Nigeria War are still present and worse; that the persecution of

Ndigbo in Nigeria continues to dictate the overall and specific policies

of the Federal government. The effect of this has been the gradual

destruction of the country itself, its economy, and its overall pride.

Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and Arewa Consultative

Forum (ACF) in a communiqué signed by the President General of Ohaneze

Ndigbo, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue and the Chairman of ACF Executive

Council, Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, agreed that dialogue with one another and

search for solutions to the major issues of concern to Nigeria was

paramount. The joint meeting held at the Universal Hotel, Enugu where

former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, former President-General of Ohanaeze

Ndigbo, Chief Mbazuruike Amaechi, Pa Onyeso Nwachukwu, former Governor of

Ebonyi State, Dr. Sam Egwu, Senator Joseph Waku, Senator Ladan Shini,

Major General Lawrence Onoja and Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, among others

attended.
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) in a communiqué jointly signed by its

leader, Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, and Rev. Emmanuel Gbonigi of Yoruba Unity

Forum, said the socio-economic and political challenges such as

corruption, bad governance and insecurity were all traceable to bad

leadership.
“That we are all committed to the unity, progress and stability of

Nigeria, governed with a sense of justice, equity and fairness. That

Nigerians should de-emphasize issues that divide us such as ethnicity and

religion, while emphasizing issues that bind us together as a nation. We

should strive to live together in peace and harmony irrespective of tribe

and religion, there is no religion in the world that preaches violence.

Poverty is a major source of agitation and violence among the people and

as government, we should be able to provide basic amenities for our people

in order to reduce violence and crises in the country.”

Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) in a communiqué after an emergency Joint

meeting of its National Executive Council and the Board of Trustees in

Abuja and signed by the ACF's National Publicity Secretary, Anthony Sani

supported any political strategies that would put the North in a position

which will enable it negotiate with other sections of the country from a

position of strength and secure some favourable terms.

The Middle Belt Forum in a communiqué issued signed by the Chairman, Mr.

Gabriel Adenyuma, and Secretary, Mrs. Fatima Njoku at the end of a

sensitization workshop held by Stefanos Foundation under the auspices of

the Middle Belt Forum on minority interest rights in Jos called on all

minority groups in the North to rise up to the challenge of carving out a

distinct identity for themselves in the region. According to the

communique, the larger majority in the North are using religion to

marginalize the people of the zone.
“Conference notes with concern the use of religion as a divisive tool to

suppress Middle Belt ethnic minorities. Conference strongly suggests that

Nigeria remains a multi-ethnic and multi-religious state.”

In an address to the Rivers State House of Assembly on Monday, March 3,

2014 Governor, Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, said a country is

not simply judged by how long its democratic structures have been up but

by the very substance of those structures and what they represent in the

eyes of its people. As Nigerians prepare to talk about our nation and

where it should be heading to in a national conference whose agenda we

pray is not premeditated and whose outcome we hope is not already pre

determined.
Bauchi State Governor Isa Yuguda said, “What I have always said is that

any person who goes there to talk about partitioning Nigeria should be

stoned out of the conference because I believe in the unity of this

country. Our parents could not have shed blood to unite this country only

for our own generation to decimate the country or partition the land and

say we cannot live together. Nobody in Nigeria is greater than the

Almighty God, who carved out a country called Nigeria. It is also the

Almighty God who put the resources we are enjoying today and nobody should

use religion or tribe to break our country. The conference should rather

focus on issues that will unite us and not divide us.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the all Ijaw Youths Conference which

held in the town of Kaiama on 11th December 1998, the Ijaw youths

resolved among others cessation to recognize all undemocratic decrees that

rob Ijaw peoples/communities of the right to ownership and control of

lives and resources, solidarity with all peoples, organizations and ethnic

nationalities in Nigeria who are struggling for self-determination and

justice including the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), the Movement for the

Survival of Ogoni People (Mosop), Egi Women's Movement etc.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the 7th Council meeting of Ijaw

youths held at Kalabiama community in the Opobo clan of Ijawland on 20th

March, 1999 and Felix Tuodolo, Oronto Douglas and Kingsley Kuku, delegates

and council members agreed that the oppressed and deprived people of the

Niger Delta will reject all the oppressive policies that have been

fashioned against her these past 42 years and demand for justice.

“The future belongs to us all, whether as ancestors, elders or youths.

There is a great life after the pain of every struggle. Let us learn from

history of other struggles where internal conflict could stunt giant

strides towards freedom and justice.”
In an address presented by the Council of Ijaw Associations abroad to The

Pan Ijaw Conference held at the Alfred Diete-Spiff Civic Center Port

Harcourt from Friday, February 28 to Sunday, March 2, 2003 and signed by

Godfrey Ambakiderimoh Okoro, MBA and President, CIAA Executive Council,

the group believed that a candid and meaningful dialogue was imperative to

achieve the goal of unity and progress that have been elusive for long. “A

frank and forthright exchange of ideas is necessary if we are to be

effective advocates of our rights and responsibilities as a people, and be

relevant in the scheme of things in so far as Nigerian politics is

concerned. Our political and economic destiny is eternally in our hands.

Indeed, quite a number of our tangible and intangible personal actions and

choices effectively negate the basic principles known to foster unity,

peace and substantive progress within a community.

A consultative meeting of Ijaw elders and leaders of thought held in

Government house , Yenagoa on Sunday 30th November, 2013 and chaired by

Pa E. K. Clark and attended by over 200 Ijaw heavy weights, called on all

Nigerians to work with the Federal Government to build a Nigerian Nation

in peace and progress, while condemning the various voices of distraction.

Prof. Joe Ebiware, Moderator, All Ijaw Conference, Julius Enarusai,

President, INAA
Dr. Ruben Mietamuno Jaja, Chairman, Ijaw Foundation Board of Directors,

Justus Wariya, President, INC North America and Col. Godfrey Okoro (rtd),

Ijaw Nation Forum in a communiqué of the All-Ijaw Conference held at the

Sheraton Airport Hotel, Newark, New Jersey, USA from 28th to 30th May,

2010, under the aegis of the Ijaw National Alliance of the Americas (INAA)

during its annual “Boro Day” Summit and 13th “Service and Devotion” Award

ceremony, advocated for good governance, electoral reform, power and

energy self-sufficiency, and zero tolerance for corruption, upheld the

sanctity of the Nigerian Constitution and the inalienable constitutional

right of every Nigerian to contest election for any office including the

presidency.
President of the Christian Association of Nigeria Ayo Oritshejafor, in a

speech said the Christian Community was fast losing confidence in

government's ability to protect their rights to religious liberties and

life.
Elder statesman and Ijaw Leader, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark as a guest

lecturer at the 7th Distinguished Lecture Series of School of Media and

Communication, Pan Atlantic University, Victoria Island, Lagos, said “We

have been together for the past 100 years. It was in 1914 that Lord Lugard

amalgamated the Northern and the Southern protectorates. Don't ask me why

the amalgamation because I do not want to dwell on that. But firstly, it

is apt to note that there was a true federation particularly in 1961.”

The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa'ad Abubakar, at a meeting with Islamic

organizations during the visit of the Secretary General of JNI, Khalid

Aliyu, to Sokoto State said “A more united and prosperous Nigeria is all

what well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians should aspire and tirelessly

work for.”
In a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting by the South-South Caucus

of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Asaba, Delta State, on 12th May

2013, the group reviewed the state of the nation and the topical issues

confronting Nigeria's maturing democracy and resolved specifically to

support the initiative, industry and commitment of the administration to

the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB); review of Nigeria's over 20-year old

Revenue Allocation Formula to achieve vertical and horizontal equity

amongst the tiers of government and better enable the Federating Units to

drive development across the country as was the case up to the 1963

Republican Constitution; drastic and further devolution of functions and

fiscal powers from the Centre to the Federating Units, towards the

direction of the 1963 Republican Constitution, to make States the

effective engines of growth and development, and decentralize, localize

and ease governance across the country. They urged the Executive at

Federal and State levels to work with both the National and State

Assemblies to strengthen the System of Local Government prescribed in the

1999 Constitution (as Amended),
“The legitimate exercise of 'Separation of Powers' must not become

tantamount to, or metamorphose into, 'Separation of Interests' with the

attendant negative repercussions. Caucus notes the anxious calls in some

quarters for a constitutional amendment for the Offices of the President

and State Governors to have a tenure of one single term of 6 (six) years

as a means of lessening the tension often generated by second-term bids,

but finds nothing wrong with the current tenure of a maximum of two terms

of 4 (four) years each, subject to performance and the will of the

electorate.”
In an address to the President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House Abuja

on 3rd September, 2012, the Ogoni leaders led by Chairman, Supreme Council

of Ogoni Traditional Rulers/Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional

Rulers, His Majesty King GNK Gininwa, OFR, Chairman, Senate Committee on

Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Magnus Ngei Abe and Chairman, Provisional

Council Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) Professor

Ben Naanen observed that the devolution of power to local entities to

reflect true federalism upon which the Nigerian nationhood is anchored and

the protection of lives and property in every part of the nation and in

keeping the country united were paramount.
The Igbo National Council (INC) on Sunday 28th October 2012 at Owerri Imo

state met and took strong decisions. In an 8-point communiqué signed by

INC National President Chilos Godsent and National Secretary Dr. Ekele

Ikpegbu, the group canvassed for good governance, development of

infrastructures in Igboland and initiation of pro-people policies to

encourage investments in Igboland. INC decried total collapse of roads in

Igboland, poor performances of governments of Igbo states, formation of

anti-trade and anti-peoples policies.
In a communiqué issued at the end of a national conference on “the role of

Muslim scholars in fostering unity, peace and security in Nigeria” and the

annual pre-Ramadan meeting, organized by the Jama'atu Nasril Islam (JNI),

held on Sunday 30th June, 2013) and Monday 1st July, 2013 respectively and

signed by Chairman, LOC Professor S. W. Junaidu and Secretary General of

JNI, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, the meeting under the chairmanship of His

Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar, CFR, mni.,

attended by a cross-section of distinguished Royal Highnesses, Emirs and

Chiefs, renowned Muslim Scholars from all parts of the country and the

Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria (MUSWEN) and a good representation of

Muslims from the South-East, resolved among others, that Muslim scholars

must harped on good governance; fight against endemic corruption in the

country by strictly upholding the rule of law against the perpetrators and

promoters of the national scourge, the three tiers of governments should

be alive to their responsibilities by facilitating conducive economic

atmosphere for youth employment and by providing social amenities and

infrastructural facilities as a guarantee people's welfare and comfort;

government should protect the rights of its people with a great sense of

equity and justice to all for the purpose of entrenching peaceful

coexistence and inter-religious harmony in the country according to

Nigerian Law.
Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua who governed the old Ondo state, then

comprising the Ondo and Ekiti states between 1991 and 1993 under the

defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) in an interview finds a big problem

in governance in Nigeria. He declared that Nigeria's leaders get into

office unprepared. “If you don't create jobs you will not be sleeping with

your two eyes closed because you don't know what may happen the next

morning. We must solve unemployment by creating avenues whereby we can

learn and earn income. Ekiti government wanted to recruit 1600 teachers

and more than 20,000 people applied. So unemployment will be solved if we

use what God has given us justly, equitably. Leaders are not expected to

enrich themselves at the expense of the people they lead. But some people

take everything for granted. In our days some people were arrested because

they abused security votes.
Revealing another problem, Brigadier General John Atom Kpera a military

governor of the old East-Central State and later Anambra State between

1975 and 1978, Benue state from 1984 to 1985 said over-dependence on oil

has done Nigeria more harm than good. Nobody wants to work; all of us have

become lazy hangers-on. We have totally neglected other sectors of the

economy for oil so that when the oil dries up we all catch cold and this

is not good for our economy. We in the states are just sitting down idle

doing nothing to get internally generated revenue; federation account is

what matters.
Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, lawyer, activist and founder Nigerian Advance Party

(NAP), recently posited that there is no election in Nigeria because the

electoral system cannot contain people with integrity. Unless we have a

constitution acceptable to Nigerians instead of the military handed down

decree known as 1999 constitution before 2015, there will be no election

in this country.
In a communiqué issued by Igbo Muslim Youths under the aegis of South East

Muslim Youth Organization of Nigeria (SEMYON) and signed by its national

Chairman, Alhaji M. O. Ajah Jnr. and the national secretary Ustaz Muhammad

Chidiebere Mbonu, the SEMYON postulated that the Igbo Muslims have been

relegated to second class citizens of Nigeria without recognition, but

isolation and disconnection from the Nigerian nation. SEMYON said “The

Igbo Muslim community has suffered a lot of catastrophes, dislocations and

predicaments. The Federal, State and Local Governments of Nigeria through

the National Assembly and State Assemblies should put in place rules and

regulations that effectively recognize every minority group in Nigeria.

Nigerians need to recognize the Igbo Muslim community for development and

peaceful growth of the nation, which cannot be achieved through violence,

discrimination and isolation, but through common understanding and

peaceful co- existence.
“The Nigerian government should empower the Igbo Muslim youngsters because

youths are the key resources to the nation. Igbo elders use to say “A

child that is well trained is a good asset to the parents.” SEMYON also

noted that as minority group, Igbo Muslims should be given an

ambassadorial appointment, a ministerial appointment and an executive

position that would strengthen them and inculcate in them a sense of

belonging to the Nigerian nation.
After the Grand Yoruba Summit held at the House of Chiefs, Parliament

Building, Ibadan, capital of Oyo State, the Yoruba demanded for regional

autonomy within a united Nigerian federation, a new Nigeria consisting of

a central union and six regional governments, based on the current six

geo-political zones, operating federal and regional constitutions

respectively. The Summit Coordinator, Gen. Alani Akinrinade (rtd.), in a

12-point resolution also sought for a just and equitable taxation system

that would make the federating units equal and coordinating at the federal

level in order to eliminate the current rentier syndrome.

They also wanted all elections organized and conducted by regional/zonal

electoral commissions in the regions, with the electoral commissions

composed of equal representatives of contesting political parties, and

also equal representation of each of the zones or regions in the

composition of all judicial, legislative and executive institutions of the

central government. Sensitive resolutions at the conference included:

preference of the parliamentary system of government; each region in the

envisaged Federal Union of Regions to have its own Regional Constitution;

right to self determination on and up to the right to secede; each region

to have and exercise control over its natural resources, subject only to

payment of 25% of net earnings there from to the government of the union;

abolition of Nigeria Police Force and in its place a new policing system,

reflecting the true character of a Federal Union i.e. Union Police,

State/Regional police, Community police; organization of the Armed forces

in the new Nigeria Federation on the basis of strong Regional Commands.

In a communiqué issued at a southern leaders' summit held at Tinapa

business and resort, Calabar, Cross Rivers state on 24th February, 2014

and signed by Chief Olu Falae, Chief Tony Anenih, Governor Liyel Imoke,

Governor Peter Obi, Governor Olusegun Mimiko, Governor Martin Elechi,

Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, Governor Godswill Akpabio and Mr. Rasaq

Oladosu, the leaders pushed for a united and indivisible Nigeria based on

the principle of justice, equity and rule of law, with ample respect and

understanding for cultural, religious and linguistic differences. We

support the re-establishment of a truly federal Nigeria with the following

key elements; devolution of power to federating units, and co-ordinate and

equal powers between the central government and the federating units.”

“In line with the principle of democratic governance, decisions at the

forthcoming National Conference should be by simple majority. We endorse

an increase in revenue allocation to the federating units in a way that

takes cognizance of the new responsibilities and residual powers of the

federating units. We recommend the design of roles for traditional rulers

by respective federating units. And the federal Government must re-visit

the issue of the loss of territory particularly as it relates to the loss

of the Bakassi Peninsula.”
The Kano State Coalition of Ulama (Islamic Scholars) and Civil Society

Organisations, in its memo to the Advisory Committee on National Dialogue

signed by the Coalition's Chairman Dr. Musa Muhammad Borodo, decried

subtle attempt to phase out religious instruction from the curriculum of

secondary schools, the withdrawal of petroleum subsidy, the attempts at

domesticating western amoral ways of life in our society through the

enactment of certain laws, and the lackadaisical handling of security

challenges most especially in the North East and parts of the North West

of Nigeria, the unfortunate reality of the inability of the Nigerian state

to do justice to the Muslims of Nigeria in many areas of our national life

generally.
A final stand on desirability or otherwise of Nigeria's continued

corporate existence; mode of separation, should any part desire so;

desired changes should the choice be on corporate existence; e.g. type of

political system; nature of separation of powers; nature of distribution

of powers; etc.; citizenship, indigeneship and nationality questions;

resource allocation; the role of religion in national life; and national

language(s).
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in a statement signed by

its director, Idayat Hassan after a stakeholders' meeting noted that the

nation needed a workable marshal plan for poverty alleviation and

de-radicalization strategy that reflects existing legal framework of

licensing on preaching.
Prince Tonye Princewill in his statement titled Nigeria At 100: Let's Take

This Country Where It Needs To Go noted, “Let's all in our little

constituencies, preach the word of peace, forgiveness and sincerity and

leave the rest for our creator. Politics should be helping us achieve

this, not used as a tool to achieve selfish personal ambitions at the

expense of the people. Be not deceived. No one party can solve these

problems just as can no one region. Let's break all divides of party,

tribe, religion and misplaced loyalty.”
Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy, Dr. Ngozi

Okonjo-Iweala would say in an address she delivered at TEDxEuston in

Londo, “We need to create jobs and include those at the bottom of the

ladder. We are struggling with so many problems; governance and issues on

corruption are also inclusive. Yes, we have problems. Corruption

undermines development in Nigeria and the continent at large. It deprives

us of resources with which we can fight poverty and create wealth for

people. It is also corruption for a business man to support a politician

in return for inordinate access to contracts or resources. All of these

undermine development and the very fabric of our society. Trivializing

corruption is going on mightily in some of our countries right now. You

trivialise corruption when there is evidence that an act or a policy is

legitimate and yet for your own purpose, either political or otherwise,

you label it as corruption. When people divert attention from the real

issues and focus on issues that are not relevant, that is a way of

trivializing corruption. You trivialize corruption when you use it as a

weapon to castigate other people; whereas the evidence is there.

In a statement signed for International Society for Civil Liberties & the

Rule of Law by Chairman of the Board, Emeka Umeagbalasi, and Head,

Publicity Desk, Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma, averred that the best solution

to social disharmony in a consociation democracy and ethno-religiously

divided country like Nigeria is power rotation. “It is an established and

incontestable opinion that Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder. All

forms of parochial and ethno-religious interests must be nailed in a

coffin and collectivist national interests made to hold sway. And the

chief among the collectivist national interests is the constitutionality

of rotational presidency among the six geopolitical zones.

From all these submissions, some facts are laid bare to make Nigeria grow.

Significant amongst them are: Nigeria's unity is not negotiable;

restructuring of the federal system of government in a way that every

ethno-religious group, including the minorities, are represented and they

participate in governance; the restructuring of the security and defence

apparatuses, and more importantly an autochthonous constitution that would

be home-grown and all-inclusive to be voted through referendum. Nothing

can be more tasking at the conference than the preservation of Nigeria's

unity in diversity!
Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of good governance and

humanity, Abuja ([email protected])