Since the early days of the Jonathan administration, calls have been made by eminent Nigerians for a national conference which would be a platform for Nigerians to iron-out their existing differences, plan for a more acceptable union of ethnic nationalities and where possible, envision a brighter, more sustainable collective future for Nigeria in a civil manner. The calls for the conference were also made as an attempt to take a holistic precautionary measure to avert the much speculated CIA predicted break-up of Nigeria by the year 2015. In this article, the author intends to x-ray the Nigerian state before the National Conference (a.k.a. National Confab), briefly analyze the National Confab, and provide a fair analysis of the possible scenarios that may play out in Nigeria after the Confab, due to the Confab.
In 2005, the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo led administration commissioned a National Political Reform Conference which was intended to address the burning issues of the nation at the time especially, as regards political reform. However, this conference although highly important and
imperative at the time did not yield much dividend primarily because, of the alarming effect of President Obasanjo’s Third Term Agenda on the polity and the attendant dust it raised.
Apart from the above, the militancy created acute instability as a lot of people were displaced, and property worth millions of naira was destroyed. Potential investors were scared away and national average cost of doing business skyrocketed. This period was so gory that no one alive in Nigeria today would want to witness it again especially, because, of the attendant economic
hardship it brought in its’ wake, the negative publicity it garnered for the country and the loss of government focus on development projects.
All the issues raised at the confab if adopted as recommended and passed into law by the Nigerian Senate at the end of the exercise have the potential to radically alter Nigeria. We must ensure that the amended constitution has the broad-based legitimacy that foundational documents need for a competitive democracy to thrive. Fortunately, in declaring the National Conference open on March 17, Jonathan said the National Assembly had already introduced the provision for a referendum in the proposed amendment of the Constitution. According to him, this should be relevant for this conference if at the end of the deliberations, the need for a referendum arises.
This country has vacillated long enough. Much now depends on Jonathan. His administration needs to act fast before the full cost of our system paralysis comes due, and the National Conference window may be our last chance and surest escape route from horror.