Time To Implement Confab Recommendations | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Our View, Views

Time To Implement Confab Recommendations

Posted: Feb 23, 2016 at 10:09 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

With the recent unceasing street protests by persons agitating for the creation of an independent nation-state to be called the Republic of Biafra from Nigeria, the issue of the controversial National Conference convoked in the dying days of the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2014 has again come to the front burners. Indeed, there have been loud calls to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to take more than a cursory look at the recommendations from the 2014 National Confab with a view to addressing some of the issues that have formed the concerns of persons in different parts of the country.

Only recently in a state of the nation address in his Church entitled: ‘Road map to successful change’, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Founder of the Latter Rain Assembly, urged the President to implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. He said: “ Let it be known that in spite of the rejection of our pre-election call for a transition period, Nigeria is now a nation in transition. This transition period will predictably be followed by a revolution, which will in turn be followed by a reformation that will eventually usher in the desired transformation of our nation”.

The calls have resonated perhaps because President Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) were frontal in their opposition to the convening of the National Conference and beyond reading the president’s body language, he may not be disposed to looking at the Confab recommendations.

Aside from the resurgence of the Biafra agitators, several other issues of multi-ethnic and ethno-religious persuasions occurring in different parts of the country have put her on the edge, which seem to make the concerns of the promoters of the need for national dialogue just as relevant as it had been kept alive since the past years.

The Igbo in the Southeast have cried of marginalization over the years. The peoples of the Southsouth region have been demanding for resource control by the federating units. The Yoruba of the Southwest want restructuring of the governance mechanisms that grant autonomy to each of the six geo-political zones in the country. The Arewa of the North want recognition of their religious and cultural way of life under the Sharia system.

To wish away these issues and in particular that of Biafra and think they would die off, if no one in government cares to give the agitators any attention is a wrong calculation. Indeed, anyone who looks at the agitation for Biafra from such narrow perspective may be lacking in sense of history or simply blind to realities in the troubled world that we now live in. Sudan is today two restless nations. That is about the closest reality of separatist agitation to us in Nigeria.

Indeed, not a few Nigerians believe the National Confab did more than addressing the nation’s myriad challenges. For a fact, it may be good to recall some of the salient recommendations of the Confab which include
*Creation of 18 New States: The confab recommended the creation of 18 new states (three per geo-political zone). The Conference also recommended additional state for the South East to make the zone have equal number of states with the other zones except the North West, which has seven. It also recommended that states willing to merge could do so based on certain conditions.

*Public Finance/Revenue Allocation: That the sharing of the funds to the Federation Account among the three tiers of government should be done in the following manner: Federal Government – 42.5%, State Governments – 35% and Local Governments 22.5%.

*Local Government: That Local Government will no longer be the third tier of government. The federal and states are now to be the only tiers of government. States can now create as many local governments they want.

*Religion: Conference recommended that there would be no government sponsorship of Christian and Muslim pilgrimages to the holy lands.

That is why the President needs to give a thought to the report of the 492-member National Conference as presented to former President Jonathan on August 21, 2014 to fully appreciate the relevance to Nigerians and Nigeria. He needs to send the National Confab reports to the National Assembly, for the recommendations to have the legal and functional effect on our national life.

President Buhari must make for himself an eternal legacy as the leader that settled the century-old problems, which have divided Nigerians and firmly established the country as an indivisible nation.