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NPRC Day 14:
Monday, March 21, 2005



National Conference: What the delegates say

By Chuks Ehirim & Bayo Oladeji

Correspondents, Abuja

Oba Sikiru K. Adetona (Awujale of Ijebu

Mr. Chairman, I wish to thank Mr. President,
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for calling this conference. I commend his courage. This
conference was long over due but we take joy in the fact that it is better late
than never.

I happen to be one of those millions in the
country who had, for many years, looked forward to the conference.

Mr. Chairman, Nigeria is sick, very very sick.
And it is for this reason that the president had called this conference of
eminent citizens representing various groups and interests, to identify the
various problems and causes besetting the country, and bring about lasting
solutions to the problems and move the country forward.

For us therefore to move the country forward,
it is important  we identify the problems before solutions could be found. My
prayer however, is that God will take control of this conference, enrich our
wisdom and give us courage to do His will so that at the end of it all, the
whole nation shall have cause to thank God for His mercies and blessings of our
country, Nigeria.

Much as I appreciate the need to restructure
the country through devolution of powers from federal to all the tiers of
government, I wish to say that the bulk of our problems are human problems.

For example, how do you know a voter, who at
the polling station, collects N100 or N50 plus a loaf of bread when there is no
such provision in the electoral law. Manipulations of the constitution, laws,
regulations and the system generally and corrupt practices, apart from the human
factors we are talking about.

This is what we now commonly refer to as
Nigerian factor. Mr. Chairman, permit me to observe that the level of
insincerity in our lives and governance at all levels without exception, is such
that should give much concern to every citizen of this country.

It is only in this country that a tailor, a
barber or a baker turns a big contractor overnight only because he is a member
of the ruling political party. It is such type of people that share fertiliser
which is supposed to be distributed to farmers at subsidised rates.

Another such problem is the unhealthy
politicking even after election. Little or no attention is given to governance.

Bishop Peter Adebiyi (Christian leader,

I want to speak on education, unemployment and
economy. Lack of education breeds ignorance and this is why children are
misused. They are encouraged into rioting at any given time.

Education breeds right thinking people, it
brings them up. So would suggest that those who are in this committee should
think seriously about moral education to be encouraged in all our schools.

The teaching of civics and moral values should
be encouraged in all our schools. Also teaching of Christian and Islamic studies
in all our primary and secondary schools so that our children can be morally
brought up.

On employment, the manner used to run the
government today is too high. Let us make a law that those who have no work
cannot seek elective post. If you have no work, you must not seek it because for
those who have their own work, doctors, lawyers, those who are business people
have their own work. They should be able to come into politics but there should
be no salary.

For those who have political posts, let them
earn allowance only. So if they earn allowances, the bulk of the money that is
being used for their housing, for their aides, for all sorts of people, would be
used for employment in most places.

Also, I want to say that we should have a clean
slate in the next governance of this country. Those who have ruled this country
for many years, they are rich enough as not to come back again, to say they want
to rule. Such people should be banned from the next elections completely.

Ogban Ebok (Cross River)

If we were to conduct election for this
conference, many of us will not find our way into this hall because the system
of election which is being made for Nigeria, will not find yet the reason.

It will really want to select people to be
here, I am sure you chairman will not be there. Those who would take over are
ordinarily those who have no business coming here.

That is why each time we go for election, we

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