Fayemi, Afenifere, others, commend Jonathan’s proposed national confab

Semiu Salami
Semiu Salami
Sen. Okunrounmu

Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State,¬† Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) and other eminent Nigerians have applauded President Goodluck Jonathan’s Independence Day announcement as regards the desirability of a national conference saying it is a welcome development.

Fayemi, who addressed the people of the state shortly after the nationwide address of the president, called for sincerity in holding the forum, adding that the acceptance of  dialogue as means of resolving the challenges confronting the nation was long overdue.

He, however,  said that the fact that support for such a national dialogue was now coming from prominent members of  the  ruling PDP  was a surprise, warning that the conference may  be viewed with suspicion  if no sincerity of purpose was attached to its organisation.

He argued that any  meaningful dialogue must start immediately with the re-ordering of the fiscal structure of the federation.

Also commenting, a former deputy governor of the state, Abiodun Aluko, ¬†commended the “uncommon courage‚Äô‚Äô¬† displayed by the president in proposing the conference.¬† “Mr. President is right to have conceded to the dialogue option because he knew himself that the exercise will help fashion ways out of our current crisis.

“It is my candid opinion that his bold step will resolve cries about marginalisation, religious intolerance, political bigotry and resource control among others,” he said.

Afenifere in a press release signed by its publicity secretary, Kunle Famoriyo, stated  that since the group has been asking unwaveringly for a Sovereign National Conference, it “would cooperate with and support the Advisory Council set up by President Jonathan, where necessary.”

According to the release, ‚ÄúARG also believes that the committee’s chairman, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, who has spent a significant part of his life in the struggle for democracy and true federalism, will work to produce a guideline that we can all be proud of, provided the government has not dictated a ‚ÄúNo Go Area‚Äù to the committee.‚Äù

‚ÄúWe however urge President Jonathan to ensure this latest move comes from a pure motive of ending the country’s many problems. We recall many conferences had be constituted in the past that never yielded any dividend for the people of Nigeria.

‚ÄúWe also urge him not to place any restriction on the committee’s term of reference and the proposed conference should have no prohibition clause like Senate President David Mark suggested.‚Äù

Also, a former deputy Governor of the old Ondo State, Musa Ayeni,¬† said that the fact that the president‚Äôs call for dialogue was coming barely two weeks after that of ¬†Senate President David Mark indicated a positive development.¬† “This is the first time a Nigerian leader will openly agree on common cause aimed at moving the nation forward,” Ayeni said.

In Abeokuta, the Ogun capital, some  politicians, however, insist that a sovereign national conference was the best option for the country.

The Ogun Chairman of the PDP, Bayo Dayo,  commended the president for giving Nigerians opportunity for their views to be expressed.

He, however,  said that the conference would not be necessary if its resolutions would be subjected to ratification by the National Assembly.

‘’If the resolutions of the conference would not be binding, then we do not need to go and be spending our funds  or wasting our time at the conference,’’ he said.

The chairman recalled that similar conferences had been organised before  without any appreciable result due to the nature of the conference.

He said such conference would not have been necessary if members of the National Assembly had lived up to expectations.

Dayo, who noted that  the views of Nigerians should have been expressed through  their representatives for discussion at the National Assembly, lamented that many lawmakers  were not close to their people.

The Publicity Secretary of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)  Sola Lawal, said the idea of a national dialogue was a right step in the right direction.

He, however, said that the success of the conference would depend on the mode of selection of participants and the nature of the conference itself.

The All Progressive Congress chieftain expressed confidence in the choice of Sen. Femi Okunrounmu as the chairman of the advisory committee., noting he had always championed the call for the conference.

However, Chairman, Ogun chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association, Ayodele Adebayo, ¬†said that there was no need for the president to call for the conference. ” A hungry man cannot proffer solutions, government should concentrate more on providing electricity, employment, good roads and other amenities and leave dialogue for the National Assembly.

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