Thugs believed to have been hired by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), om Monday disrupted the proceedings of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue/Conference in Benin City.
The alleged hoodlum prevented Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and others from making contributions to the ongoing talks.
A member of the Presidential Advisory Committee, Col Tony Nyiam (rtd) was the arrowhead of the disruption as he shouted down the Governor while making his contribution.
The thugs believed to have been imported from neighbouring states heckled the Governor as soon as they realized that his contributions would be different from the perceived opinion.
The Governor who took the stage to make his contribution shortly after the Isoko Ethnic group had made their contributions, said he objected to spending huge public funds on a wasteful venture saying, during the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo, money was spent on similar conference and at the end, nothing came out of that conference.
“I will be surprised if anything changes. Sincerely, I have no business to deceive or mislead anyone. I believe that the outcome of this conference will not be different from that of other conferences we have had in the past.”
But as soon as Governor Oshiomhole made this statement, committee member, Col Nyiam jumped on his feet and would perhaps have lunged at the Governor were he close to him. He was restrained by other members who were taken aback by his action.
Even while the Governor was still making his contribution, Nyiam started screaming at the top of his voice for the Governor to shut up and sit down. He was then joined in by the PDP thugs who disrupted the whole proceedings while many scampered for safety as a result of the unruly behaviour of the committee member and thugs.
The Governor who insisted on concluding his remarks however yielded the floor when the thugs were getting violent.
However, at a courtesy visit to him in his office by members of the Committee led by Senator Femi Okurounmu, Gov. Oshiomhole said he had no faith in the whole process.
Oshiomhole said “all I owe Nigeria now is to speak my mind. It could be error of my head but certainly not of my heart. As much as I wish you well, I just want to say that I have no faith in this process and I do not think it was necessary at all”.
The Governor said “I am unable to find any basis to give me some illusion that this exercise will not be different from the others. And I honestly think that in terms of the private sector, when a country keeps debating how we can live together, that cannot be one of the basis on which the outside community will invest in Nigeria. They may well wait until we know how we want to live in Nigeria”.
He lamented that fifty-three years after independence, Nigerians still prefer to look at themselves from their ethnic origin rather than being Nigerians, saying, “for me, I am just a Nigerian”.
“I do not think that more than hundred years when we have set aside billions of naira to celebrate centenary celebrating the fact of our amalgamation of the North and Southern Nigeria, and we have lived together as one country for over a hundred years, and we have gone through independence, we have been free for fifty three years and we are coming back to ask the question, how could we be there.
“I think Nigeria needs to address very serious issues. When I see eminent Nigerians discussing this issue, I am sure they know that Nigeria’s problem is not this politics of sharing which the national dialogue is all about, who is getting what, who has this natural endowment, who should do this or not do this. For me, this is the act of perfecting poverty.
“The real challenge is getting Nigeria back to production. The real challenge is creating industrial base and this cannot be resolved through conferences. We have moved from parliamentary system in our own wisdom to the presidential system. We have test-run it and it was aborted by the military and it has re-incarnated in the present form” he said.
“Nigeria does need a serious reflection about how to return to those core values that made Nigeria work before. Those healthy competition between the governments, visit the whole question of attitude and unless that changes, I do not see how any dialogue can work”, he said.
The Governor said that he was “discussing with somebody last week and he noted that this is the eleventh conference and I ask what ten conferences could not do, how would the eleventh one do it? Why do we think we can continue doing the same thing the same old way and think that this time the outcome would be different?.
The Governor said nobody convenes a meeting without stating an agenda and asking others to draw up an agenda for that meeting adding “from conception we know we want to talk but we do not know what we want to talk about.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue/Conference, Senator Femi Okurounmu said they were in Benin as part of their to the six geo political zones to get their input as regards the content of the agenda, the duration, choice of delegation and legal framework.