WHEN President Goodluck Jonathan announced on October 1, 2013, that he was going to organise a national conference, a lot of Nigerians welcomed the idea with joy and great expectations. They believed that the conference, if properly organised, will help to stabilise the country. Most people who favoured, it wanted a conference of ethnic nationalities whereby the people would be able to discuss issues that are germane to the unity of the country. No one expected a no-go area. Nigerians expected the conference to discuss all burning national issues without any restriction, in order to find lasting solutions to them.
Although there were those who were opposed to the conference primarily because of its timing, a good number of Nigerians felt that it was long overdue and should be held without much delay. And so it was that Nigerians waited with bated breath for the presidential advisory committee led by Femi Okuronunu to come up with its recommendations on how to proceed.
The committee kept faith and within the time frame given to it to complete its assignment, submitted its recommendations to the federal government. The government, on its part, issued a white paper which spelt out the modalities to be adopted for the conference. Since then, there has been an upsurge of diatribe against the modalities as many people who were previously enthusiastic about the conference have now developed cold feet feeling that it has fallen short of their expectations.
At Realnews editorial board, we felt concerned that the country might be missing an opportunity to do the right thing by using the conference to remake Nigeria. Hence we decided to study the modalities in order to let Nigerians know the real issues at stake. With our analysis we hope Nigerians can make an informed decision about the proposed conference without being unduly sentimental. Our cover story for this week entitled: Diatribe Against National Conference gives you the facts and myths about the modalities for the proposed conference. It was written by Olu Ojewale, our general editor. Enjoy it.
— Feb. 17, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT