By Kayode Crown
If you have been reading this column for sometime, you will know that a theme I constantly rehash is the implementation of the 2014 confab report. I have been singing the song almost from Day One.
One accusation against the Dr Goodluck Jonathan-administration for the non implementation of the report, which was one of its kind, in the unanimous manner in which each item in the document was agreed on, was that he wanted to use it as a bargaining chip to be voted in for a second term.
But he has now given his own side of the story. In a recent event held in Abuja, where he was represented by his media aide, Ikechukwu Eze, he said the time was just too short before the general election slated for the year after the confab (2015) for anything meaningful to be done to turn the words of the report into flesh.
Ex-President Jonathan celebrated his golden jubilee on Monday. And in the birthday wishes of President Muhammadu Buhari to him, he prayed thus: “The Almighty God will bless Dr Jonathan with good health, wisdom and strength to continue serving the country.”
It seems that this time offers a good opportunity for the ex president to put the record straight on why he “delayed” the implementation of the confab report.
And many wished that he would have implemented the report, saying that would have been a bridge crossed taking the nation to a better place, in view of the numerous advantages embedded in it.
The rumour mill has been in overdrive, painting ex President Jonathan in the most vile of strokes because of this matter.
Though the man is not a saint, he deserves to have his own day in court, give his own side of the story.
Whether it is a true picture of what happened or not is another matter entirely, but to judge another without hearing him is injustice.
But that is the nature of the politics in Nigeria, where the worst things you can create in your mind against the opponent is taken as gospel truth and people run with it and before long, it gains the stature of gospel truth. When the lie is repeated so many times, and by so many people, it seems to assume the stature of a truism.
This might be one of the reasons the All Progressives Congress- led Federal Government earlier turned its back to the whole confab thing, which it saw as a means for the PDP to score cheap political points and so could not see past its rivalry to embrace the confab report for its egalitarianism potentials.
However, those who say that the non implementation of the confab report by the last administration of the Federal Government is merely a ruse to con an unsuspecting public to vote for it, may have a good point.
We were all here during the last campaign period when some who supported the PDP raised the implementation of the confab report as a reason people should vote for PDP in view of the body language of the APC at that time, which was not pro the report. That tactics might have backfired eventually.
Now it seems that the body language of the ruling APC is tilting towards the ideas espoused by the confab report, a prime aspect of it being the restructuring of the country along proper federal lines. It has set up a committee to fashion out a restructuring modality, in the aftermath of intense agitations along ethnic lines that have, in recent times threatened to tear the country apart.
Hear Jonathan’s defence: “I received the report of the national conference on Thursday, August 21, 2014, after the closing ceremony to mark the end of the five-month long deliberations. I was satisfied with the outcome. It has remained the best national conference so far because of the depth of the deliberations and the fact that all the decisions reached were not based on majority votes, but by consensus.
“I am aware that some people have raised some issues with the fact that I did not implement the recommendations of the confab during my tenure. I would like to state that those making this kind of claim are not being fair to me.
“Such people tend to forget that the report was submitted in August 2014, few months before the last general elections. It was at a time the National Assembly was on break, with many of the members already at different constituencies to prepare their constituents for elections.
“I believe that to have had a tidy procedure of implementation, it would have involved committee deliberations, public hearings and town hall consultations on different segments of the report. There was no doubt that the nation then needed up to one year to complete the processes of implementing the recommendations.
“It was obvious that my administration, given the time the report was submitted, couldn’t have implemented the report, before the 2015 elections without running into ethical questions.”
It seems fair to state that the report of the Confab has been demonised for too long.
We need to recall the report and make the provision work for the people. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.
We should not dismiss the report. It was not an attempt by an ethnic group to subjugate another. It was a meeting of Nigerians, for Nigerians and we need to treat it as a gift of God. Let’s not think too much about who will take the credit. Politics should be made to serve the public good and not the other way round.
We are one Nigeria and that was emphasised in the confab report. We need to shift from the fire brigade approach in solving the problems of the country, to being more clinical, removing sentiments from the equation. If not, we would not see our way into the future, would not know what is good for us, as our vision would be clouded by ill conceived sentimental notions.
The national confab report has the potential to reset the country. It speaks to the very foundation of the country, frontally addressing the multitudes of issues affecting us.
As the Yoruba will say: what we are travelling all the way to Sokoto State for, is in our “sokoto”, meaning our trousers’ pocket.
We don’t have to continue going round in circles, seeing we have a veritable map to the future delivered to our hands in the confab report.
Let’s remove everything that might be blocking our view from seeing the report as we should. Let’s not allow the passage of time to bury the report, making us overlook it, saying that many waters have passed under the water.
Regardless of which political party was in power when the confab was held, we should realise that government is a continuum and the “labour of our leaders’ past should never be in vain,” but should be built on.
We need to jettison the negative tales we have heard about the confab report because at least one of them, via the statement made by ex-president Jonathan in that Abuja event, can now been seen as less credible than it earlier seemed. We should not give the report a bad name in order to hang it.
We need to have respect for the numerous thoughts that have gone into the making of the report, have respect for the financial investment and the energy expended to see to the success of the conference. We need to implement that report.