National Conference Advisory Committee members with President Jonathan (Photo by Vanguard)
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, today, inaugurated a 13-man Advisory Committee to establish modalities for a national conference aimed at resolving issues that bedevilling the country.
The Committee was announced to Nigerians during the Independence Speech of the president. The move seemed to have rattled some prominent Northern politicians who are disturbed by the prospects of holding such a conference. They have therefore come out to criticise the relevance of the conference. More so the members of the Committee belong to various relational socio-political groups agitating for separation of the country and President Jonathan’s loyalists.
Speaking during the inauguration held at the State House, Abuja, President Jonathan charged the members of the committee to consult widely before developing the framework that will guide the proceedings of the dialogue. “In the task before you, no voice is too small and no opinion is irrelevant. Thus, the views of the sceptics and those of the enthusiasts must be accommodated as you formulate this all important framework. This Conversation is a People’s Conversation and I urge you to formulate an all-inclusive process that protects the people’s interest,” he stated.
L-R: Prof Obiozor, Tony Uranta, (Top) Alhaji Dauda Birma, (Bot) Sen. Khairat Gwadabe and Prof Ben Nwabueze
“Unitary constitution with only one central government would only result in frustration to the more powerful, pushfull and more dynamic ethnic groups, whereas the division of the country in Regions along ethnic lines would enable each linguistic group not only to develop its own peculiar culture and institutions but to move forward at its own pace without being unnecessarily pushed or annoyingly slowed down by others.” – Obafemi Awolowo
The Federal Government yesterday released the complete list of members of the National Conference Advisory Committee, which was initially mentioned in the independence address of President Goodluck Jonathan early yesterday. The committee is expected to determine the modalities for a national conference aimed at resolving issues that currently cause friction in the country.
The committee is made up of the following: Dr. Femi Okurunmu (Chairman), Dr. Akilu Indabawa (Secretary), Professor Ben Nwabueze, Professor George Obiozo, Sen. Khairat Gwadabe, Sen. Timothy Adudu, Col. Tony Nyiam (Rtd), Funke Adebayo, Dr. (Mrs) Mairo Ahmed Amshi, Dr. Abubakar Sadiq, Alh. Dauda Birma, Mallam Buhari Bello, and Mr. Tony Uranta.
In order to evaluate the calibre of the members of the committee and predict possible outcome and what direction their recommendations might lean towards, Naijanews Sweep decided to present to our readers, a brief profile of some key members of the committee.
Professor Ben Nwabueze
Professor Nwabueze (SAN) is a legal luminary and elder statesman, who has left his footprints on the sands of time through active law teaching and practice and sociopolitical interventions in the polity. He is an erudite constitutional lawyer, who helped many African countries to develop their judicial systems. He single-handedly drafted the current constitution of Kenya in 1992.
Prof Nwabueze, is the leader of a prominent pressure group in Nigeria known as the Patriots, which has continuously called for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC). He has always longed for the transformation of Nigeria.
During a stint as the Educational Secretary (Federal Minister of Education) the education sector tremendously moved towards a positive direction. He has been acclaimed by notable Nigerians as the best Minister of Education Nigeria has produced.
Professor George Obiozor is a seasoned academic and experienced diplomat. His diplomatic skills enabled him to successfully serve as Nigeria High Commissioner to Republic of Cyprus, and Nigerian Ambassador to Israel between from 1999 to 2003. Prof Obiozor also served during the second term of ex President Obasanjo’s (and briefly under President Yar’Adua) as the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States from 2004 to 2008. He studied at the Institute of African Studies, and Albert Schweitzer College. Prof Obiozor obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA) Summa Cum Laude at University of Puget Sound in 1969, Masters of Arts (MA) and PhD in International Affairs at Columbia University in 1974 and 1976 respectively.
From 1964 to 2003, Prof. Obiozor held many key positions in Nigerian government and academia including Senior Research Fellow at Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos and Director-General of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (1991-1999). He was one of the most distinguished Director-General of the institution in Lagos. He studied at the Institute of African Studies, and Albert Schweitzer College. He has authored many books including: “Uneasy Friendships: Nigeria-United States Relations” (a hand book for Diplomats) and “The politics of precarious balancing: an analysis of contending issues in Nigerian domestic and foreign policy” (a work on Nation Building).
Prof. George A. Obiozor serves as the Chairman at AiQ Capital Management Limited.
He is an advocate of national integration, nation-building and sustainable socio-economic development. His idea of national integration is the one that would take into consideration the elements of pluralism in Nigerian society. As a seasoned diplomat, it is hard to determine exactly where he stands from his words and body language, but some of his articles suggest that he may lean towards either a confederation structure or one that would guarantee rotational presidency across the various ethnic nationalities.
Senator Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe represented the Abuja Federal Capital Territory constituency, in the Senate at the start of the Nigerian Fourth Republic, from 1999 to 2003, under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). During that period, she served in various committees of the senate, such as the Senate Committee on Environment, Health, Women Affairs (chairman), Federal Character, and Tourism and Culture. She was also a member of the Panel of Review of Nigeria Customs and Excise Federal Capital Territory.
The Ilorin-born Senator Gwadabe studied law at the University of Lagos. Due to the role she played in Ghali Umar Na’Abba planned impeachment of President Obasanjo, the PDP refused to return her as their candidate in the senate in the 2003 election. She subsequently joined the All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP). Senator is the Chairman of the Senators Forum, a political pressure group that brings together former and serving senators for knowledge and experience sharing.
Interestingly, Senator Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe is the wife of Col. Lawan Gwadabe, a former military governor of Niger State who was accused and convicted in 1995 by the Abacha regime of plotting to overthrow him [Abacha]. Col. Gwadabe, as a close friend of Abacha, in November 1993 used his position as the Commander of the National Guards (the body guards who protects the Heads of States) to arrest Ernest Shonekan, the interim civilian president of Nigeria and subsequently extracted his “resignation”. The palace coup eventually led to the emergence of Abacha as the Head of State.
The politics of Senator Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe and her husband, Col. Gwadabe could be considered a bit radical if not controversial, suggesting that she would likely take a radical position during the sessions of the Advisory Committee.
Senator Timothy Adudu
Senator Timothy Adudu represented the Plateau North Senatorial District in 2003 – 2007 period on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). During that period, he stirred a national controversy with a motion for the removal of Prof. Maurice Iwu as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He also harshly criticised former Governor Joshua Dariye of Plateau State during the Jos crisis.
Senator Adudu was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Timothy Adudu. Judging from his outspoken nature and pro Northern stance, he might be among the members that would want the country to stick together.
Alhaji Dauda Birma
Alhaji Dauda Birma, the Sarki Gabas of Adamawa, is a former minister in the administration of the late Sani Abacha. He is a frontline northern elder and former presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He is currently a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Adamawa State. He is an outspoken and ardent supporter of President Jonathan and Bangar Tukur. He often criticises his northern friends and colleagues in the Northern Elders Forum, who do not want the president to run for a second term come 2015.
He would likely be disposed towards the convocation of a National Conference to discuss various national issues, without the Sovereign powers conferred on it.
Tony Uranta is a Human Rights activist and a socio-political commentator. He is a close friend and ardent supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan. He raised a lot of dust in April this year, when he criticised the composition of President Jonathan’s cabinet who he described as “dead woods”, urging the President to reshuffle the cabinet if he wants to deliver effective service to the Nigerian people.
Tony Uranta, strong supporter of the Niger Delta cause, is the Secretary-General of the United Niger Delta Economic Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS). He was a member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and political student of Ken Saro Wiwa and Prof Wole Soyinka. He once openly declared being a member of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND).
From his radical and outspoken nature, Uranta will be among the members that will vigorously support separation of Nigeria or a very loose association between the various regions of the country.
We will endeavour to bring to you the profile of the rest of the Advisory committee member in our subsequent write ups.
One thing that is glaring from the composition of the committee is that most of the members are highly educated and seasoned personalities, who are very conscious of the problems of Nigeria and cannot be regarded as “pushovers”. We therefore expect the best from them.
Question of the day :
How many Commands does the Nigerian Navy have?
Answer: Nigeria has 5 Commands namely Western Naval Command, Apapa, Lagos;
Eastern Naval Command, Calabar; Central Naval Command, Bayelsa;
Naval Training Command, Apapa, Lagos; and Logistic Command, Oghara – Delta State.
Word of the Day
The whole body of warships and auxiliaries belonging to a country or ruler. The complete body of such warships together with their officers and enlisted personnel, equipment, yards, etc., constituting the sea power of a nation..