28 August 2014

Nigeria: Making the Confab Count


AFTER five hectic months, the 492-member National Conference set up by President Goodluck Jonathan, completed their assignment with the submission of a 22-volume report consisting of 10,335 pages and 600 resolutions to the president.

While receiving the report from retired Chief Justice of the Federation, Idris Legbo Kutigi, President Jonathan, predictably, pledged the administration will do all it can to ensure the implemen-tation of the recommendations.

It was a major national triumph that the conference not only successfully took place but ended on a happy note without the threat of boycotts, walk-outs, disownment of the documents or writing of "minority" or alternative reports bedeviling it.

Given the skeptical air that surrounded its beginning, with many groups unsure of its real purpose or success, added to the tumult that often attended the sessions while it lasted, Nigerians have every reason to be delighted that the conference ended with the delegates from across the various divides chanting a victory song; victory for Nigeria.

Now comes the real challenge. We as a people must seize this moment and chart a new future for ourselves and future generations. The recommendations from this confab contain issues canvassed over the years during the various conferences since independence, all aimed at repairing the dysfunctions in our socio-political and economic system. Incidentally, many of the delegates to the just-concluded conference also attended some of the earlier editions and came armed with adequate knowledge of the things required to change the country for the better.

That Nigeria is in dire need of reforms is all too evident. There is too much corruption in the system, wasteful governance, overcrowded and indolent public bureaucracies, a seriously underdeveloped economy, violent political discontentment due to inequities. There is a large body of Nigerians who are not being carried along politically, economically and socially. This country needs to reconcile itself to its various peoples and get them to love and serve her as other countries that are progressing do.

The job of making the just-concluded conference count belongs to all Nigerians. This is because the document will be looked into by the legislative and executive arms of government at state and federal levels. We must encourage these officials we elected to be patriotic and swift in ensuring that recommendations that will define a new, better future for our people are put in place as soon as possible.

The confab came at an auspicious time; the end of an old, difficult century when every Nigerian group felt the pain of a wrong start to nationhood. Let us use the product of this confab to show that we are capable of creating a second century Nigeria that will be the envy of others.

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