The Confab Report, Impediments And Way Forward

By Carl Umegboro
THE Honourable Justice Idris Kutigi led-National Dialogue Conference masterminded by the erstwhile administration of Goodluck Jonathan and inaugurated on Monday 17 March, 2014 was concluded amidst high hopes from all quarters despite the huge amounts lavishly allocated to the scheme.  Most people overlooked the gigantic financial implications on account of salient issues the conference resolutely earmarked to determine. Expectedly, critical long-standing issues particularly sociopolitical and ethno-religious problems raised triggered torrid disagreements albeit afterward determined. Overall, 492 delegates auspiciously selected across the nation congregated in the seat of power to untangle the hitherto no-go areas in the system. Ridiculously, every ethnic group represented cried in turn over the same object; marginalization, perhaps, to synchronically espouse the phrase that attack is the best defensive game. Nonetheless, the confab provided opportunity at least to discuss as neighboring communities, but economically a faux pas
Plainly, the multitude of delegates lacked requisite legitimacy to embark on such exercise since the duty is restrictedly vested in the elected lawmakers, thus, tantamount to usurpation of powers but sadly, participants were contentedly shortsighted with making resolutions and overlooked its implementation vis-à-vis the legal regime. For instance, section 4(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria unambiguously provides, “the legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the federation, which shall consist of a senate and House of Representatives”. In addition, it critically outlined the legislative procedures for making laws, and so stringent that any actions even by the legislators inconsistent with the laid down procedures for making laws is invalid. In reality, the hugely-spent confab was a jokey, deliberate waste or rather political gizmo for the 2015 presidential elections calling to mind that the assembled delegates judiciously worked throughout and alongside for the election, and indirectly co-opted into the Goodluck Jonathan presidential election campaign team.
Patriotically, the coherent action any sincere government would judiciously take in overall interest of the nation remains to press strongly for legislative passage of the earlier Hon. Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais led-22-man Electoral Reform report of 2008 altruistically spearheaded by late ex-President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua instead of a toothless national confab. To abandon the astute electoral reform recommendations which has the capacity of correcting the nation’s weak foundation and ipso facto fix the right people in leadership positions remains the greatest injustice to the country. As unflinchingly claimed, the national confab gulped N9billion ‘only’ from the treasury. Truly, such a costly drama with no legitimacy and distinct from a sovereign national conference was supposed to be orchestrated under a tree akin to ‘Tales by Moonlight’ knowing it to be a mere talk-shows with nothing coming from it. Most likely, late ex-President Umaru Yar’Adua’s spirit may not be resting perfectly in peace in the tomb over the political murder of his electoral reform that is the easiest way out of Nigeria’s gargantuan problems.
Without mincing words, the moment the right people are elected into public offices, robotically, the enormous crises will recede since only credible people can scale through in elections; then, issues as canvassed in the confab would sequentially follow with legitimacy rather than the kangaroo gatherings. Thus, a well-structured electoral system remains the sine qua non to urgent national revolution. Until such a brilliant report is implemented, the helpless masses will continue to watch the usual home-movies in government particularly in the legislative arm knowing that no president irrespective of political-will can do much in the midst of a pathetic, unskilled and narcissistic extra-large legislature. The burden now shifts to President Muhammadu Buhari to expeditiously revisit the Justice Lawal Uwais-led Electoral Reform recommendations in view of implementation as a distinctive way to ending the regular masquerades’ dances in government quarters.
Regrettably, most of the confab delegates believably knew that such usurpation of powers through handpicking of delegates devoid of any legal criteria would amount to nullity. Even while the confab lasted; the legislature explicitly distanced itself from the exercise. Still, the delegates never considered it imperative to strategize on how to push forward its resolutions either by mobilizing the people to mandate their elected representatives or lobby by themselves, instead, were fulfilled by mere participation and concomitant packages, and then hullabaloo for implementation in the media. In a developed nation, the delegates and their paymasters ought to refund all the public funds lavished on the futile exercise with no legitimate directions.
For emphasis, federal laws are, in a democracy made through prescribed processes by the National Assembly except delegated legislations by statutory bodies. Under no circumstances can a body not recognized in law like the confab make valid laws for the federation. Unfortunately, the participants hailed the exercise and tagged it a success despite its fundamental drift from legislative processes. Eventually, after the presidential election alongside inauguration, it dawned on the people that the confab was a premeditated political plot as the government had no legal capacity to implement it, not even political-will to push it for legislative process in sync with the constitution.
The bitter truth is that under democratic arrangement, the executive cannot implement such confab report except to sponsor it as executive bills which will still be at the mercy of the egotistical lawmakers. Furthermore, the keenly participated delegates should enthrallingly take it as accompanied duty to sponsor them as bills. It is not enough to gather, fight for respective ethnic groups, shout at each others, show muscles and finally share public funds without constituting machinery for presenting the recommendations for legislative processes accordingly. To accord the exercise a success by mere deliberations with litany of resolutions is the height of absurdities and narrow-mindedness as the executive statutorily lacks powers to implement it without due passage by the National Assembly.

Umegboro is a public affairs analyst and publisher (07057101974 sms only)

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