Call for National Dialogue: Time for action!

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By Otunba Gani Adams

The call for a National Dialogue being advocated to rebuild the nation and rescue it from imminent collapse is getting louder by the day. Over the past years, the Boko Haram sect has escalated its deadly attacks against Christians and government targets in the North, killing innocent Nigerians and maiming several others.

The activities of the group have no doubt heightened fears among Nigerians about their safety. There is a growing sense of insecurity everywhere you turn as Nigerians, especially those based in the North, now live in fear. There is no gainsaying that the lofty dreams the founding fathers of this great nation had prior to independence from the colonial masters have been dashed.

Former Premier of the Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello made this statement in 1963: “Let us not be blind to our differences. But let us also direct our attention to our common interest and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end our differences, at least we can help to make the world safer for diversity.”
The importance of the statement should not be lost on us. While the premier acknowledged the fact that there were differences among the ethnic nationalities in the country, he would rather that Nigerians direct their attentions to their common interest and means of settling the differences.

Having studied the current problems confronting the country, it has become incontrovertible that the only means available to Nigerians at this period is the ‘Dialogue Option’. We need to come together to resolve our problems and rescue our beloved country from collapse.

While the government may seem to be doing its best in combating the activities of the Boko Haram, its effort, to say the least, does not seem be yielding the desired result as stories of attacks on and bombings of defenseless Nigerians hit the newsstand every day.

Sectarian killings have become the order of the day. The reprisal attacks by Christians in parts of the North, following another massacre by the Boko Haram, is a sure sign that the country is gradually drifting towards anarchy, needing a little spark to set off a conflagration that may consume all of us.

It is in the light of these happenings that we call on the authorities, to as a matter of urgency, convene a meeting of the ethnic groups in Nigeria to discuss the terms of their co-existence. A meeting of this nature— you may decide to call it by any name, will find lasting solution to all the problems threatening to rip the country apart.

Coming at this critical period of our national life, a conference of all the nationalities that make up the Nigerian nation will move us away from the brink. We must prevent the experiences of Rwanda, Burundi, Srilanka, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia and more recently, Cote-Devoire and Mali from happening in Nigeria.

It must, however, be understood by all that the National Dialogue is not to find an alternative government for the country, but to find solutions to all the problems that afflict the polity. Therefore, all the governments under the present constitutional dispensation should be involved in the process of convoking a National Dialogue.

Consequently, the President of Nigeria, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of House of Representatives, all the thirty-six (36) governors of the states of the federation and the thirty-six (36) Speakers of the thirty-six (36) state House of Assemblies must quickly meet jointly to set up the National Dialogue Planning Committee.

I fear to think of the catastrophic consequences to the very existence of the country and its horrible effects on the black race, Africa and the world at large, if we fail to act now!
*Otunba Gani Adams is the National Coordinator, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC)

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