National Dialogue Not Necessary – Senator Ndume

By Musdapha Ilo, Maiduguri

The senator representing Borno South in the upper chamber, Ali Nfume, has expressed fears that the proposed national conference may not address the socioeconomic and political problems of the country but may end up as just another jamboree.

Ndume told journalists in Maiduguri on Monday that until “good governance, transparency and accountability”  are guaranteed at all levels, the problems of the country would remain unsolved, adding that most Nigerians are mostly concerned about security and welfare.
He noted that addressing these issues will ensure the delivery of the long awaited “dividends of democracy” to the electorate and move the nation closer to its avowed development destination, stressing that Nigerians are desirous of good governance and not a national conference.
He said: “I personally think we are not understating problems we have in this country and if we don’t appreciate and play our little roles, honestly we will be getting to a situation where the country will be in dare strait. Anytime the leaders in this country throw up something to Nigerians, they will now leave the real things for things I considered trivial. For me national dialogue is not our major problem now. It doesn’t even have a place in our constitution.”
The lawmaker said it was rather unfortunate that the President as the custodian of the constitution attaches much importance to an issue that lacks constitutional basis.
“What happened to the previous conferences? We had a national dialogue in 2005 by President Obasanjo, what happened to it. Very eminent Nigerian sat down to discuss, I was very opposed to it too at that time because as an elected representative of my people, I felt my people were not consulted on who should speak for them. But then, we toy with ideas in this country and I believe the national conference is one of such thing we toy with,” he said.
Ndume gurther8 lamented: “Our attention has been diverted from real issue affecting us: closure of public universities, problem in the health sector, poverty among our people, insecurity. The representation of the committee itself has default because my state Borno and about 23 states are not represented. So, there is a problem with representation.”
He said that the country and its citizens have been engaging in dialogue since 1914 and that it was time for the country and its leaders pay attention to good leadership and good governance at all levels.
According to him, the Senate has really not taken any decision about the dialogue issue.
“The senate president just revealed the acceptance of the leadership of the Senate after a meeting with the President. I don’t want people to misunderstand the position of the Senate President. He did not say that the Senate has decided that there should be national dialogue. He only said since that is what Nigerians want, there is no problem,” Ndume said.
He said Nigerians should not mistake the agitation of few elites to be that of the totally of all.
 “One fundamental issue with our country is that less than one percent decides for Nigerians which is wrong. In my zone with nine local governments, in Borno state; national dialogue is not their problem. They have not spoken to me about it,” the lawmaker said.
According to him, the people of his local government are more concerned the fundamental purpose of governance – development, security, and the high rate of unemployment.

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