DELEGATES to the National Conference, for the third day, continued debates on President Goodluck Jonathan’s 27-page inaugural speech, yesterday, with corruption, marginalization of minority ethnic groups in the country and insecurity on the front burner.
Delegates, who hailed President Jonathan, described his speech as patriotic, passionate and statesmanly, harped on level of impunity that has led to what they termed, massive looting of the country’s money that ought to have been channeled into the development and growth of the country.
Some delegates, who spoke reiterated the issue of insecurity where members of Boko Haram sect have engaged in killings and destruction of property as well as the clashes between Fulani herdsmen and other tribes whose communities have been leveled, leaving the people homeless.
We must tolerate one another – Clark
Former Federal Commissioner of Information and South-South leader, Chief Edwin Clark, who noted that at 86, he was already at the departure lounge waiting to get the boarding pass and go, urged the delegates to love, appreciate one another and see Nigeria as one indivisible nation, adding that no one must be seen as a second class citizen or from the minority to be marginalised by any group that sees itself as a majority tribe.
Chief Clark who is representing the Elder statesmen category said, “my duty therefore is to appeal to everybody,that we should tolerate one another. Nigeria belongs to all of us, no one is superior to the other, no one is a second class citizen, no one is a first class citizen. Anybody in Nigeria is qualified to hold the highest office in this country. Nnamdi Azikiwe was 42, both Obafemi Awolowo and Sadauna were in their late 30s, they ruled this country. They prepared the constitution which we were unable to develop.
“They sat down and prepared the Republican Constitution of 1963.Today we are speaking grammar about it. Let us accept where we are, love one another. Some of us have taken religion too far. Nigeria has been in existence before some of these religions were born by some people.
Northerner or southerner
The 29 young children that died in Yobe, those who killed them did not differentiate between Christians and Muslims. Therefore, let us tolerate one another, let us be patriotic, we have no other country to go to. If you are a northerner or a southerner and we don’t live together, then there will be no Nigeria.”
DSS, Boko Haram clash, fallout of detention without trial – Coomasie
Former Inspector General of Police and a North-West Delegate, Ibrahim Coomasie, attributed Sunday’s clash between men of the Department of State Service, DSS and arrested members of the Boko Haram Sect to what he termed continued detention without trial and stressed the need for good leadership through a credible, fair and acceptable election as what Nigeria requires now to get it right.
Coomasie who is also the Chairman, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF also commended President Jonathan for what he described as his inspirational speech, said: “The president has sufficiently motivated us to work for the betterment of our country Nigeria. I note with satisfaction his emphasise on championing unity and consolidating democratic governance in our beloved country and his penchant for national consensus. We should make the best of the opportunity to chart a new course for Nigeria. We need to be patriotic and serious. We have already spent 100 years since amalgamation. What we need now is good leadership, which must emerge through a transparent and credible elections. All the leaders that will also emerge must be servants of the people and not masters.”
Past constitutions did not work -Dokpesi
Also in his contribution, Chief Raymond Dokpesi representing the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, who commended President Jonathan for what he termed a very thoughtful speech and show of patriotism and statesmanship, however said that all past constitutions, pre and post-independence, have not worked for Nigeria.
He urged Delegates to look at the speech and use the conference to see how it would lead to restructuring Nigeria. Noting that South Korea, which borrowed money from Shagari’s government to pay its workers’ salaries, is now one of the largest economies of the world; Brazil was suffering when things were okay for Nigeria, but now is a centre for the purchase of aircraft, among others, he said there must be restructuring and reorganisation to deal with the problems squarely and fix things like Iron and steel companies that have packed up.
Our security agencies have abandoned their jobs — General Ali
In his contribution, General Muhammed Mansur Dan Ali representing Zamfara State, accused all the security agencies of failing in their responsibilities where they have been reduced to taking care of road blocks, police taking over the jobs of VIO and soldiers deployed to at least 33 out of the 36 states of the federation.
He said that the sudden retirement of 140 generals recently was not good for the country’s security, just as he called for a complete restructuring of the Nigeria Police Force for them to face their jobs properly.
We need a united, prosperous nation – Aremu
In his contribution, Comrade Issa Aremu representing the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, who made case for the Nation’s founding fathers to be given more recognition, rather than what he described as undue glorification of our colonial masters, said: “I join other distinguished delegates to acknowledge the significance of the President’s speech.
I fully appreciate his call for inclusiveness, oneness and unity of the nation. The NLC I represent values the principle of unity. An injury to one is an injury to all is our valued slogan. “There are of course problems and governance challenges in Nigeria. But we must also recognize that we have also made some considerable progress in nation building. One of the gains of Nigeria is unity in diversity.”
South mischievous to claim more population than North– Ali
Former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Col. Ahmadu Alli (rtd), has accused delegates from the South contesting the population figure of the North as mischievous.
Ali’s comment, which was part of his contribution to the president’s speech, almost caused stir as southern delegates stood up to engage him.
Ali said southerners were being mischievous to contest census conducted in the past that put the population of the North ahead of the southern part of the country.
He said the president’s inaugural speech at the confab showed him as a sincere leader, adding that it has set the guiding principles for the conference.
“The president’s speech is the guiding principle of this conference. We must first put Nigeria on the front burner in everything we are doing, “he said.
He opposed the call for creation of more states by some delegates, particularly those from the South-East just as he reminded delegates of how Southern Cameroon seceded from Nigeria soon after independence, but the northern part remained, saying the development automatically put the northern population ahead of the south.
He insisted that at independence, the population of the North was more than that of the South. “When we are thinking of creation of states, we must put certain things into considerations. The North is the only place where there is no limit to the number of wives you can marry. Therefore, the number will not diminish. We will continue to grow. It is a fabrication when people say numbers and figures are being fabricated in the North,” he submitted.
25 000 women widowed in Jos crises between 2009-2014 — Bosu
A delegate representing the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Emmanuel Bosu, said that over 25, 000 women were made widows between 2009 and 2014 in Plateau State on account of incessant ethno-religious crises in the country.
He made this startling revelation when he was given the floor to speak on the President’s speech.
According to him, the religious crises in the country within the period had led to the killing and maiming of Christians including children especially in Jos, Plateau State.
Giving details, the cleric said that as at March 11, 2009 a Christian denomination in Dogo Nawa, Jos had registered 501 widows.
The figure rose up to 900 in 2011 with yet a disturbing dimension as at February 2014, which he placed at 25 000.
He said: “Nigeria of today is producing widows and orphans in Nigeria. Religion has become a manipulative tool.”
The analysis instantly drew the ire of former governor of Kebbi State, Senator Adamu Aliero who shouted a point of order, citing order 9 of the conference rules.
Granted, he said that “the speaker is introducing issue that was not related to Mr. President’s speech.”
With that, the hall went into commotion. But when silence returned, the Deputy Chairman of the conference, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, who moderated the proceedings said: “Governor Aliero, I cannot uphold your point of order. The way we have conducted the matter is that everyone is given the chance to speak. We have all come here with a lot of fears and grievances.”
With the remarks from the chairman, the Pastor continued.
Also speaking, Pastor Tunde Bakare, a nominee from Ogun State said that “The president was clear in his expected outcome in this conference. If our expectations are different from his, then we are in a jamboree.”
Similarly, Ms Ankio Briggs, a Federal Government delegate said that the 1999 constitution was obsolete as it does not reflect the realities of today’s Nigeria.
“The constitution of 1999 is no longer acceptable to the people of Nigeria. No one is here to break up Nigeria but to answer the question: how do we build Nigeria? We are not here to keep the status as it is because the status quo has not worked for Nigeria,” she said.