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Confab Most Successful, Says Obasanjo

Posted by From Josephine Lohor and Donald Andoor in Abuja on 2005/07/26 | Views: 590 |

Confab Most Successful, Says Obasanjo

President Olusegun Oba-sanjo yesterday descri-bed the National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) the most successful ever held by Nigerians, despite all the cynism that greeted its inauguration and proceedings.

President Olusegun Oba-sanjo yesterday descri-bed the National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) the most successful ever held by Nigerians, despite all the cynism that greeted its inauguration and proceedings.

Receiving a six-volume report from the NPRC chairman, Justice Niki Tobi, at a farewell dinner for delegates, Obasanjo said the conference was held in an atmosphere of total democracy and freedom where everybody discussed freely without fear, adding that government had no ulterior motive for organising the conference.

The President observed that “on a comparative basis, it is possible to conclude that the National Political Reform Conference was the most successful ever held by Nigerians in an atmosphere of full democracy and freedom, where nobody discussed in fear, and nobody feared to discuss. The conference has unanimously endorsed:
• Our belief in a united, indivisible Nigeria;
• Our determination to establish a democratic polity and compassionate society in which institutional and interpersonal interactions are governed by the rule of law;
• Our march towards a self-reliant, private sector-driven open economy that promotes investment, growth, development and equal opportunities for all;
• Our faith and confidence that the existing structures of government if reformed and perfected would lead us to a stable and balanced polity;
• Our stance on transparency, accountability and the eradication of poverty and corruption from our society and polity.”

He said that he was “pleased to note that the cynics amongst us have not only been proved wrong, but that they are now convinced of our sincerity, except for a few diehards and professional opportunists. The conference has been brought to a successful end with the submission of the report”.

According to Obasanjo, “When on February 21, 2005, I inaugurated the National Political Reform Conference, cynicism and pessimism from some quarters greeted our objectives and its outcome. One must not forget that it was hailed by more Nigerians and friends of Nigeria. Even when I declared in my opening address that this Administration had no hidden agenda, people within and beyond the conference searched strenuously for "hidden agendas."

Though I never used the phrase "no-go-areas" and stated that the conference was free to discuss everything, including the option to revisiting, refining, updating, strengthening, and conceptualizing those critical pillars of our nationhood, some persons continued to search for and attribute so-called "no-go-areas" to the Administration”.

"This Conference could not have come to an end at a much better time when the debt relief granted to this country by the Paris Club, will release some funds for the actualization of some of the recommendations of the conference.

I wish to assure all Nigerians that this administration will not relent in its efforts to bring the dividends of democracy nearer to all our people, through the promotion of good governance, for which the recommendations of the conference provide part of the road map and pathways," the president said.

He, however, urged the international community to “note that Nigeria has come of age. This conference is clearly a dividend of democracy and it has greatly enriched our political discourse, national unity, identification and resolution of many issues that are critical to our progress, and opened the path for new policies and possible changes to move Nigeria forward.

“We are undertaking our economic reforms and struggle against corruption in an atmosphere of political consensus and we shall stay the course and not be deterred, distracted, diverted or intimidated. We are embarking on a self-correcting and self-adjusting journey towards a future of consolidated emocracy and assured prosperity. With God on our side, these noble goals will be achieved.”

In his welcome remarks, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaete, congratulated Obasanjo for proving “wrong the cynics in our midst who never wanted that our nation would benefit from the collective wisdom of the conference.

Meanwhile, the South-south delegates yesterday boycotted the presentation of the report of the conference.

A statement signed by the Chairman of the South-south Delegates Forum, Chief Edwin K. clark, and the Secretary, Prof. Nimi Briggs, explained that the delegates stayed away because an earlier invitation card indicated a farewell dinner, and not the submission of the report.

“Our initial reaction was that we would attend the dinner, which is why we all came down to Abuja. However, latest information based on a massage from the Conference Secretariat is that the dinner is for the purpose of submitting the final report of the NPRC, the final decisions of which we are not privy to; and which report was to have been submitted by Monday, July 25, 2005.

“We have accordingly resolved to respectfully decline the invitation. Our stated position that the final decision on derivation principle and revenue allocation was foisted on the zone, as same is inimical to the overall interest of the South-south zone in particular and Nigeria in general, is very well known.

“We can not therefore participate in the submission of a report into which final recommendations we did not make any input,” the delegates stated.
The delegates concluded the five-paragraph statement by reaffirming that “our loyalty to one indivisible, indissoluble and progressive Nigeria remains intact.”

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