• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
businessday logo


The other name for the national confab


That name is DIRECTION. The search for it is the CONFAB. I muse when people call it a distraction, a waste of time, then I ask, since 54 years, where have we been going? First amalgamation, then, region-based federalism, unitary government, state-based federalism and now, no name. Pause again to ask why leadership failure looks perennial with us? It’s straightly because there’s no clear national direction. Leaders or do we rightly call them rulers are sometimes arbitrary, policies are more of governance-decorations than guideposts; any semblance of achievement is loudly applauded with, ‘he is performing’ and checks are easily compromised. The chain self-deceit however has expiry date and we’re plunk at it.

It’s not just us, Ukraine too and many silent other. West Ukraine wants to move towards Europe, East says movement should be towards Russia; what’s the issue? DIRECTION. Depending on the depth of true nationalism, East may go Russia and West, Europe, meaning the danger of a divided Ukraine is real. In that confab, direction can move us closer or asunder, all’s possible. Some say, let’s remain together, but how? A loose centre with strong regions as before and each developing at its rate? Question is, for how long would a fast developing region wait for a slower one and keep losing revenue to prop it up? It means at some point, there’ll be friction. Following this model, separation is imminent sooner or sometime. Some say it’s confederation, that is, we become different countries joining together to help one another where we can. If this model is followed, there’ll be less tension, since as different countries, there will be agreements binding all in contrast to the present practice in which, as one country, too many unacceptable evils ride free. But then, which will be the countries, the 359 ethnic groups, the 36 states, the six geo-political zones, the former regions/protectorates or an agreed arrangement by the separate groups? Would they emerge peacefully or via strife? The other extreme model is outright separation/secession. Who takes the lead, how many will follow and what’s the consequence? There’s yet another which I think the government and the ‘stakeholders’ prefer, namely, Nigeria, no matter what, is indivisible. As government, they should but Nigeria has remained indivisible yet acting divisibly. Which is better: stay together divisibly or stay apart but act indivisibly? This poser makes it difficult to pursue stubborn positioning.

In the case of Ukraine, its simpler: Go Europe or go Russia. In ours, it’s legion. One sensitive thing though is that the consciousness of ‘to-be-together or-not’ has become robust. After the conference, sensitivities will increase and when versed with emerging political trends, especially if disquieting, radical configurations may surface. Still, it’s better to let it out than chain it in. Recognizing this national ill and powering it is a plucky act deserving commendation next is what we do with it.

There is one positive development: the positions of many of the groups are close. That means a frame is emerging. The other is that some of the groups can’t behave like newfound lands. For instance, former Eastern Region which comprises most of today’s south-south and southeast have many things in common. Political pragmatism demands that they harmonize positions but talk from different angles. Where there’s a common frame between groups, like the emerging southern unity, they finetune, concentrate effort at narrowing down differences and extend feelers to others, especially the Middlebelt.

Nothing should stop marketing a common position to other groups and opening up to the good from them. Although it’s a confab of ethnic nationalities, it isn’t going to be exactly that in practice. To be impactful, it will be zone-powered with some minor ethnic imprints. In some cases, zones coming together is imperative. It’s this coming together that will shape structures be it true federalism, confederation or outright separation. Besides, there’s the choice of a parliamentary/presidential system of government.

The government wants 3 months to round it up. But if we’ve taken 54 years to rigmarole, if elected officeholders take 2 out of 4 years to learn the ropes, is 6 months too much a time to save a wanderer? What if what emerges causes an upset, would we be having the political parties, the legislature, north-south dichotomy, etc., as we do today? Unless it’s going to be predetermined, prudence demands that actors play safe. Pushing hard amid imminent structural change is unsafe; its attendant heavy loss, may force losers to resort to commotion/confusion.

If the directions turn out so divergent, which body should harmonize them and still stay outside the suspicion-orbit; will the groups allow their positions be altered profoundly and to what extent?

For once, we’ve asked the pertinent question, ‘WHERE ARE WE GOING? Let’s hope the answer wi ll be, ‘SOMEWHERE’.

By: Onyebuchi Onyegbule