By Eze Eluchie
Whilst much has been said about the role providence, as opposed to self-will and determination, played in your ascendance to the exalted office of the President of the Federal Republic, the immutable reality is that, for now, you are The President. History is replete with personalities who had power thrust upon them, and such personalities turned around and made the utmost use of such powers in a manner
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Open Letter to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
The Ship Is Adrift – Need for National Dialogue
On this epoch occasion of the 53rd Independence Anniversary of Nigeria, I feel it appropriate to extend felicitations to your goodself and fellow citizens of the Federal Republic and also share an ordinary citizen’s reflection on the present realities of our country and the need for National Dialogue.
Whilst much has been said about the role providence, as opposed to self-will and determination, played in your ascendance to the exalted office of the President of the Federal Republic, the immutable reality is that, for now, you are The President. History is replete with personalities who had power thrust upon them, and such personalities turned around and made the utmost use of such powers in a manner that made the populations of such countries grateful to providence.
From its inception, your tenure has been badgered with extreme hostility and contempt from diverse sources, including some erstwhile supposedly ‘powerful’ stakeholders in our country, some of who openly boasted that they will render the country ungovernable for your administration – and did true to their threats, unleash a most vicious campaign of terror (particularly in the northern fringes of Nigeria) and calumny against the State, your office and your person. The ensuing polarization and rancor has continued to portray the aura of a polity adrift.
In addition to deploying violence as a means of actualizing the quest of making the polity ungovernable, it appears that ensuring a continuing state of distraction from the purpose of governance using all manners of contrived internal political skirmishes is also being used, with some measure of success, to retard whatsoever efforts that might have been conceived by your administration towards societal advancement.
May I seize this opportunity to remind you, Sir, that by virtue of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under which you assumed and continue in office, the enormity of powers invested in the President of the Federal Republic is such that will make your counterparts across constitutional democracies all over the world green with envy. The Nigerian President is in reality, one of the most powerful elected political office holders, in relation to its powers within its borders, on earth. One of the late ‘founding fathers’ of the Nigerian State, Obafemi Awolowo, had stoically asked for ‘just one day’ to act as President of the Federal Republic, and he would have made lasting positive impact. Your goodself have had years in office, and hopefully a few more ahead, and as such, posterity will not accept excuses from you in the event that the expected dividends are not delivered to the State and its populations.
Restructuring and Renegotiation:
From its inception in 1960, the Nigerian State had structural, demographic and constitutional defects. These defects have with increased polarization of the polity, become more glaring and now manifests in routine bloody conflagrations amongst the various components ethnic nationalities of and religious subsets in the country, in the process leading to thousands of deaths and threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of our fellow citizens in addition to threatening the peace and stability of the entire West African sub-region.
As rightly identified in your 2013 ‘Independence Day’ broadcast, the need for National Dialogue to actualize a Nigeria in tune with the expectations and desire of Nigerians is long overdue. Whilst welcoming your empanelling of a Committee to formulate the structure and process of National Dialogue, one is worried that populating such a committee with personalities, who have contributed to similar processes in decades past and have thus appeared to become recurring decimals, may not achieve the expectation of our population for holistic restructuring and renegotiation of the polity.
With the heightened agitation from various segments of our population for a restructuring and renegotiation of the makeup of Nigeria, the process you have initiated is a historic opportunity to avert a looming apocalypse and thus represent an opportunity Nigeria and its constituent population cannot afford to see fail.
It is sincerely hoped that at the end of the one month period you have announced for the committee to come up with its recommendations, the path forward towards genuine national discourse and restructuring will not suffer the often common fate of most government initiatives of being rendered comatose and that efforts will be made to broaden the discourse to include representatives of diversity of our country and its peoples.
Likely opposition to national dialogue:
As expected, some elements who are perennially opposed to peaceful resolution of or who directly engineered these crisis situations, and others who may perchance feel that they are benefiting from the ensuing mayhem, inclusive of persons who have in the recent past openly advocated for the convocation of a ‘national conference’, will become vocal in opposition to the commencement and actualization of the dialogue process you have initiated. The will of the people, as represented by the clamor for a ‘National Dialogue on the future of Nigeria’ must not be sacrificed for the convenience of a few who have benefitted from the unfortunate circumstance foisted on Nigerians.
In response to persons who oppose an opportunity for Nigerians to dialogue about the country’s future, I do really hope that your Office recognizes the fact that the generality of Nigerians and the international community are quite exasperated by the inability of the Nigerian State to get its act together – the National Dialogue process Mr. President has now initiated, represents a fresh vista of hope and another chance for Nigeria.
Those in opposition to dialogue have aired the view that the existence of the present National assembly makes the convocation of a National Dialogue unnecessary. This argument, sensible as it may sound, flies in the face of reason. The existence of the said National Assembly has, thus far, not prevented the slide to decay and anarchy. The powers and composition of the National Assembly is a critical item in any renegotiation that will have to be undertaken of Nigerian – as such, the present National Assembly cannot be a part of the dialogue process towards restructuring itself and the entirety of the Nigerian project.
Authority for National Dialogue:
A deft interpretation and application of the totality of the Second Chapter of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic and the Executive Powers conferred on The President by the said Constitution, empowers and makes it incumbent upon your Office, not only to ensure that the forthcoming National Dialogue holds, but that the outcome of the desires of the peoples of the Federal Republic is effectively implemented.
The growing insecurity in the land, particularly the war being waged against Nigeria by various terrorist organizations; the blatant rubbishing of constitutional provisions by all component States of the Nigerian Federation amongst other things in disregarding fiscal appropriation mechanisms and not allowing democratically elected officials to govern at the Local Government Councils; and the overriding need to preserve the life and property of the citizenry which are increasingly being placed in dire situations by the actions of some component States and non-State actors in our country, makes it imperative for your Office to ensure that the process of National Dialogue moves ahead, swiftly, to a conducive conclusion.
The outcome of the National Dialogue should be put to referendum under which various component parts of the polity will be at liberty to make decisions regarding their respective futures.
Challenges to the process of National Dialogue will certainly arise from the same characters who had threatened to make the country ungovernable and their cohorts, using such instrumentalities as the Judiciary, the National Assembly, terrorism, paid-orchestrated rallies and some other not so subtle tactics. I believe I need not remind Mr. President that the Office of the President of the Federal Republic and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces is sufficiently imbued with the authority, personnel and wherewithal to overcome such challenges and ensure that the will of the people of Nigeria prevails.
Nigerians and the international community can simply not afford the costs of a catastrophic disintegration of Nigeria.
Mr. President, Sir, the National Dialogue must not only go ahead but its outcomes should be implemented in the interest of all.
Remain assured of my high regards.
Eze Eluchie, Esq.
Concerned Citizen of the Federal Republic.