Saturday, 19 October 2013

National Confab is A “Greek Gift” – Tinubu

President Goodluck Jonathan’s proposal for a National Conference has continued to elicit varying reaction. Many support the proposal and have jumped at the offe , while some others are being skeptical. Perhaps the most surprising of the skeptics is former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was a longtime advocate of a sovereign national conference.

Tinubu in an apparent volt face has described the proposal as a “Greek Gift”.

“I insist that the planned national dialogue is a ‘Greek’ gift and public deception. I say beware of the Greek gift; let us first of all, ask a series of questions”.

Nonetheless, the opposition leader, complained that he has been subject of serial media attack since he voiced his aversion to the proposal.

“Since I first made known my initial reaction to President Jonathan’s proposed National Dialogue/Conference, the daggers have been out against me. The paid public relations gangs of the administration and some sympathizers have gone into overdrive in the media and public fora to denounce me for the position I have taken. I thought I ought to enjoy the same right they have exercised by supporting Jonathan’s conference to also reject it and make my reaction known. Unfortunately it does not seem so.

“But I have news for them. I will not take anything I have said back on the proposed National Dialogue by this present administration.

“The government’s proposal is a walk down a back alley that leads only to a dead end. It has the same empty taste as sitting down to dine after all the food has been eaten and the table cleared.

“I intend to raise fundamental questions/interrogations in the following response. I am known to have always reviewed the message or policy action of government after which I simply proceed to respond to the message and not the messenger. But this time around, my focus and response is to the messenger and not the message essentially. Questioning the messenger and his motives is my mission here as a Nigerian and a political leader. Also in warning against Jonathan’s proposed Conference, I will put forward a few practicable suggestions.

The core questions to ask here is how credible, reliable and capable is the current President to be able to midwife a critical conference such as this? Will this President be sincere enough to let all the issues that are on the agenda be exhaustively discussed at the conference? Will this President have the guts to implement fully all final resolutions of the conference without fear or favor or any pandering?

“This is an administration that has been known to have flip- flopped on so many critical issues of national importance. President Jonathan was part of two issues of national importance in the recent past; Amnesty and the Uwais Panel on electoral reform. We all know what has happened to these two issues.

The Amnesty conceived from inception has been corrupted and hijacked by the President’s clique. It is one of Nigeria’s drain pipes. A slush fund for political expeditions and a conduit to siphon money to the boys.

The Uwais Panel report gathers dust and suffers from constant cherry picking. What about the much-publicized SURE-P initiative of this administration? Another ill-conceived and fraudulently implemented program of this administration. Billions of naira have so far disappeared into private pockets and the treasury still bleeds. I can go on and on. Is this the leader we want to trust with organizing a National dialogue or is it conference they call it? Where is the capability? Where is the sincerity? Where is the presence of mind?

“Now, we are about to embark on a similar futile exercise. “Yet, President Jonathan’s epiphany–if epiphany it is and not an expedient calculated to enhance his 2015 reelection bid – should be subjected to searching questions.

“It is difficult to lay aside the suspicion that his sudden conversion is all about 2015. Otherwise, why the sudden endorsement of a National Conference, not merely in principle, but with a rush toward some form of implementation? What has happened that was not already in play in all those years during which the authorities rejected demands for a National Conference?

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