Monday, 16 June 2014

Revealed: The National Conference Is Set For Major Showdown

 National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, a Yoruba socio-cultural group, Yinka Odumakin, at the weekend said the southern delegates might eventually head for a major showdown at the on-going National Conference if the northern delegates fail “to accept that Nigeria is a country of equals.”

Odumakin, who is a delegate at the conference, gravely lamented the growing influence of what he described as the invisible government in Nigeria, which he claims is operating in parallel to the visible government headed by President Goodluck Jonathan.

    “We have here with the agenda to have state police and each state can make laws and have capacity to enforce the laws. But the North said we were not ripe for state police. But their argument is that the governors will misuse the power. Yet the northern governors have hisbah.

    “Hisbah is the Sharia Police. As it is now, there is hisbah in Kano. Our constitution does not allow it. So, what I see is that what is ours is ours. Only yours is negotiable. They can do whatever they want. But we cannot do it. It appears we are in a bind. That is not the way to co-exist.”

Odumakin expressed the views in an interview with Thisday in Abuja, where he explained that the pull and push factors, which he said might subvert the purpose for the conference was convoked and eventually culminate in a major showdown between the delegates from the North and South.

He decried the attitude of the Chairman of the National Conference, Justice Idris Kutigi, who he said, often took decision as an executive chairman whereas the forum chairman was to moderate discussions.

He explained that the South-west only “came to the conference with the regional agenda. Once we have the region, we can then be free to create as many as we want. Now, they are back to the creation of states. South-east, for instance, was supposed to get another state in 2005.

“It was not implemented then. The committee thus agreed to give them a state. But they said there was a provision in the 1999 Constitution that two-thirds of the state must support it. Officially, the creation of state is on the table. But given what it is now, I doubt if the South-east will get the state,” Odumakin further explained.

He claimed that the very forces that tied Nigeria down since independence “are very present in this conference. They are doing all they could to ensure the status quo remain. What many people do not realise is that in Nigeria, there is visible government and there is invisible government.

“The visible government is the one President Jonathan is currently heading, while the invisible government is the Sharia power in Nigeria. We do not see it. But it is functioning. That power has tried to hold this conference to ransom. At present, there is an issue going on at the conference.”

He said the invisible government had pushed the critical issues that led to the convocation of the conference back so that there would not be sufficient time to discuss and deliberate on issues which he said were critical to the peaceful co-existence of Nigeria.

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