Former President Goodluck Jonathan has explained why he set up the 2014 National Conference, saying that it was to make Nigeria work.
Jonathan, who was the nation’s leader from 2010 to 2015, on March 17, 2014, inaugurated the national conference chaired by the late Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, a former chief justice of Nigeria.
Speaking on the topic, “How to Make Nigeria Work,” in Abuja yesterday at the 60th birthday of Prof. Udenta O Udenta in Abuja, Jonathan said: “When I set up the 2014 National Dialogue, the key thing was how to make Nigeria work, though we did not emphasise that so that people will really discuss the country.”
Udenta was the founding national secretary of the Alliance for Democracy, AD and now fellow, Abuja School of Social and Political Thought.
Jonathan said when the North and South were amalgamated in 1914 by Lord Lugard, there was the failure to integrate Nigerians into a proper nation.
He described Udenta as a true democrat, a nation builder, a man with passion, who has demonstrated his capacity towards achieving national unity and the development of Nigeria.
He said, “I must commend Udenta for presenting 21 books. Even writing one book is a problem. People have been asking me when are you going to write your biography, I said wait but here today someone has written 21 books. These books are different and divergent that can solve national problems.
“These books can also make our children understand us better and prepare us for leadership in all sectors whether in public sector, private, political positions in the country.”
According to him when he set up a national dialogue committee in 2014, the topic was ‘How to make Nigeria work.’
He said right from when the Northern and the Southern protectorates was amalgamated in 1914 by Lord Lugard till date, and all through party elections and independent struggle Nigeria has not gotten it right. “But I’m not blaming our forefathers but we fail to integrate into a proper nation.
“Individual interest, if you read some of the comments by our former leaders, of course Sir Awolowo, made it clear that there is not a nation called Nigeria. Yes, it is a geophysical state entity and the country was so polarized, especially during political formation and regional politics.
“There was no sense of commitment as a country to integrate Nigeria into an entity where we can say yes, we have a nation with a common interest,” he said.
At the event, former Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, admitted that the protest which trailed the 2012 fuel subsidy removal during the administration of Jonathan was largely for political interests.
“What we need is alternative politics and my own notion of alternative politics is that you can’t have 35 per cent of the vote and take 100 per cent. It won’t work! We must look at proportional representation so that the party that is said to have won 21 per cent of the votes will have 21 per cent of the government. Adversary politics bring division and enmity.
“All political parties in the country agreed and they even put in their manifesto that subsidy must be removed. We all said subsidy must be removed. But we in ACN at the time, in 2012, we know the truth Sir, but it is all politics.
“That is why we must ensure that everybody is a crucial stakeholder by stopping all these. Let the manifesto of PDP, APC and Labour Party, be put on the table and select all those who will pilot the programme from all parties,” Fayemi added.