Rev. Agbali adds his voice to a growing debate:
I have read Dr. Bolaji Aluko's piece on the Obasanjo National Dialogue vis the broader articulation for a sovereign national conference. I was in Nigeria recently, and though I have been planning to write on some of my experiences I have not had the time to put all into words and share here in this dialogic forum. However, my trip to Nigeria provides me with enormous insights. Aluko's articulations here are prompt.
I have reached the following conclusions regarding the attempt of President Obasanjo to host a National Political Reform Conference.
1. I personally think that the proposal is a charade, ill-conceived, and an attempt to buy time and detract from the malaised management of the Nigerian economy, and the endemic poverty in Nigeria. Obasanjo have performed badly, below expectation and he is dazed. Coming up all of a sudden with a proposal similar to that of which he has vehemently opposed in the last five years is a calculated miscalculation to deceive and drive Nigeria and Nigerians into a terrible dungeon. The major distraction is related to his poor management and abuse of the political capital he received in 1999 and which he abused in 2003 through rigging. In fact, during the first days of my stay in Nigeria, the news of the Supreme Court ruling emerged regarding the 2003 Presidential election. It was posited that Ogun State's count were frivolous and fraudulent, though it did not amount to a political damage in the Obasanjo mandate. A mandate that even the U.S. Department of States has considered questionable following massive election riggings.
2. The intractable crises of Ngige and the allegation that he rigged the gubernatorial election surfaced prior to my trip following the altercation between the former PDP Chairman, Chief Audu Ogbe and Baba Uncle Sege following the former's assertion that the national situation look too gloomy to be politically comfortable. The President's reply amounted to a loaded tirade against what seeming was a letter of good intent, from one whose position as the party leader also empowered him to ensure conformity with their party manifesto and mandate. Rather, he was intimidated and forcefully ushered out of heading the party. One clear issue emerged here that while Obasanjo had received enormous votes from different national minorities across the country he has continued to stampede upon their sense of belonging and reasoning. Audu Ogbe represented within the PDP dispensation the eye and voice of the minority, especially the Northern minorities whose sons and daughters shed their blood for the sake of Nigeria's unity during the Nigeria-Biafran civil war. Obasanjo, who authored the book, My Command seems to have so easily forgotten that without these men he had no command and Nigeria would not be what it is today. Members of Audu Ogbe miniority Idoma ethnic group laid down their lives for the sanctity of Nigeria. The cheap way of buying time and attempting to reappease the minority group is through marshalling an agenda that is manifestly hidden but amply truncated. His latent intentions are an attempt to reconfigure his damaged integrity- if he had ever had any. Obasanjo's era has done enormous damage to the Nigerian minorities in more occasions than one. For instance, he wiped the Odi community of River States from the surface of the earth through military onslaughts, as he also did to the Tiv in Benue State, and specifically targeting their illustrous son, General Victor Malu for elimination. Further, the Igala are poor represented in the PDP government at the Federal level. Apart from the Kogi State governor, as the only visible Igala in the PDP government, they have lost out in the power equation in terms of major appointments.
3. The proposed reform conference is an orchestrated event, with the selection process seemingly elitist and limitedly diffuse. The process of a genuine national conference must and should emerge through the referendum process. As late as 1986, Nigerians voted on a referendum to reject taking an IMF loan. The process of the national conference must have a look of autonomy, and it must be self regulating- a point that Dr. Aluko and others have continued to affirm forcefully and persistently. The entire notion of governmental nominations is intended to tilt an atmosphere of genuine representation. Let's take a look at the intended representation of the reform conference- why should the PDP have 12 representation, ANPP 4, AD 2, and others 2. Shouldn't all political party be considered as same and therefore entitled to the same number of representation at the party level. Yes, at the level of other representation could actually be card carrying member of any party, while actually legitimating the interests that they represent- traditional rulers, media etc when it comes to their interventions and votes. I wonder how one can screen out these nominees in a way that will be party-neutral by any means. However, the fear of Dr. Aluko along this line is heightened by the suddenness of this enterprise and the manner in which these representations are calculated to offer advantages to a corrupt political class who have now confessed to rigging elections in Anambra State, juridically declared to have cooked the Ogun State's votes, and who have been accused even among their own high ranking members as brutal murders and cannibals.
4. What does Obasanjo want to change when he has stood against meaningful change to the military dictated constitution of 1999, and against any progressive idea toward genuine reform vis the modality of a National Sovereign Conference? The answer to the question why now is very fundamental especially within the ambient when he is acclaimed to be seeking a third term- a single five years term. Is this a ploy at reconfiguring the constitution to achieve this aim, in spite of his persistent denial? Are Nigerians a fool to take this denial at their surface value after their experience with similar situations under the decadent despotic rule of Ibrahim Babangida, and the orgiastic zombie-black speckled dictator, Sani Abacha? Well we are familiar with how these denials transmogrify into Association of Better Nigeria using the likes of the Nzeribes, and the Abacha for President lead by Kalu. All too familiar, we are refusing to be fooled once again.
5. There must be something at stake now for this sudden mind change for an administration that has turned against all forms of advise and genuine confrontations, equating all to opposition. This administration call for a conference reminds one of the National Conference under Abacha before his full colors evolved?
6. Therefore, it is time for all Nigerians, and all people of goodwill to stand up to the monstrous feature of the Obasanjo regime, in its attempt to perpetuate itself in power, or rope Nigeria's destiny under the affairs of erstwhile despotic personalities, like Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, whose over eight years reign rained acidity on the face and destiny of Nigeria through tyranny and massive corruption schemes.
I will be following the discussion on this, as it is very vital that many of us speak up and stand up to evil. It is because many Germans staggered in the face of Nazist attrocities that the evil of the holocaust became real, with Hitler and the likes of Josef Mengele becoming larger than life.