National Dialogue Committee: A Panacea or Another Jamboree?

For over a decade, many have clamoured for a soverign national conference as a solution to the many devils bedeviling the nation. In their permutations, unity among Nigerians is a mere mirage and in the face of the Boko Haram plague, only such a conference will bring about sanity. However, these calls have met a strong reistance from many, among whom is the ruling class. In the calculations of those who oppose it, Nigeria is not ripe for such a conference at the time. The reasoning is that we are too guilable to ethnic and religious sentiments, and such a gathering might create more divisions.

Whatever the odds, the president has decided to toll this path. In his independence day address to the nation, he announced the formation of the advisory national dialogue committee that has six weeks to come up with recommendations, findings and the way forward in this regard. Saddled with this unenviable task is Dr. Femi Okurounmu as chairman, and Dr. Akilu Indabawa as secertary. True to our nature, the divisions and cynicism has already began. Some sections of the igbo community are already trading out sentiments as to why an Igbo was not given either of the aforementioned roles. This school of thought believe that since the Igbo have been the most maligned in the history of the nation, it is only normal that they steer any discourse that involves reintegration and lasting reconcilation.

Thus, fears abound if this commitee will not become another play to the gallery. Committees are not a new phenomenon in this part of the world. We have seen many. What we have not seen more often is the productivity thereafter, and the holistic implementations of their findings. Where their recommendations are not outrightly discarded, they are selectively chosen.

What exactly is this committee supposed to achieve? What will be their modus operandi? How will they come up with their findings and recommendations? What will be the way forward? Perhaps, some have asked, why have the president waited this long to constitue such a committee? Why did it take the blood of many victims of the Boko Haram reign of terror to make the presidency see the saliency of this conference? Yet, one wonders if we truly need a national conference at this point. It has been said and not without reason that we do not need a "talk shop" to solve the Nigerian question. It is difficult to believe that the powers that be do not know the solution to solving the ills of our land. The insincerity of our government is smacking. They talk of high government expenditure, but their salaries remain a luxury. They talk of how they give priority to education, but our schools have been under lock and key for over hundred days. And even when it is not, the standard is a sham. They talk of a new health care sector, but they travel abroad to even treat an headache. Hence, the cynicism of another "talk" called "national dialogue".

Be that as it may, one should give the National Dialogue Committee the benefit of the doubt. One should hope that it will take a new path from the plethora of committees before it. Penultimately, we can only clamour that the committee does not spend a fortune of taxpayers money in carrying out its duty, and that there must be an indicies upon which to judge if the committee has succeeded, or if it ended up being another jamboree.


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