THE premier city of Ibadan, Oyo State capital knew she received powerful guests across the six states of the South West zone of Nigeria last week Thursday and Friday respectively.
The Premier Hotel, sitting comfortably on the hill along Mokola area was agog for the calibre of progressive politicians that flooded the place with an intention to come together to deliberate on the growth and challenges facing the nation, particularly, the Action Congress.
The cream of the erstwhile governors of old Ondo, Oyo, Lagos. Ogun and Ekiti states, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua, Lamidi Adesina, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Segun Osoba and Otunba Niyi Adebayo was led by the National Chairman of Action Congress, former governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande to the hall where the symposium took place.
Unless one was interested in publishing names of the delegates to the conference, the whole piece may not be enough to mention names, but some personalities marked their presence with fanfare.
Tinubu may have a pint-size frame compared to the over-bloated frame of some political juggernauts but he proved to all doubting Thomas in the gathering once again that he commands tremendous followership in the party; when he was heralded into the hall, there was a thunderous applause.
Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, an athletic framed colourful politician was heralded into the hall with thunderous ovation from his supporters and delegates across the state. The Osun State Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate showed to the party that he is a crowd-puller of note anytime, as his entry brought the programme to a halt till he sat on the high table.
Aside from the side shows of the thought-provoking programme, the kernel, which bothered on paper presentations and solutions to national questions, clearly showed that the party has taken the lead in formulating a national agenda for the growth of the country bedeviled with economic and political impasse.
The conference, which was premiered by the Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Barrister Opeyemi Bamidele opened with the South West Chairman of the party, who doubled as the chief host, Chief Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi, who x-rayed the challenges facing the party in the zone, went into the long history of conflict of interest between the progressives led by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and dissident conservatives.
On Thursday opening, the former Oyo State Chief executive, Alhaji Lam Adesina was selected as the
Chairman of the first paper presentation; to be delivered by the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ado-Ekiti (UNAD), the Harvard-trained Professor Akin Oyebode on a topic Constitutional Reform And The Future of Democracy in Nigeria
The cerebral don gave a long insight into the different attempts made in the past to work out an acceptable constitution for the nation by different governments and military juntas, concluding that the lack of political will and ideological-based governments sounded death knell on them (several attempts); reiterating that the failure recorded so far has given the right definition to the polity as a failed nation.
Oyebode then disclosed that constitution making was not part of the National Assembly’s brief, saying that only the Constituent Assembly could do the job, before the National Assembly deliberate on it; while the document would be subjected to referendum that would be people to have a sense of belonging.
In his breath-taking lecture that kept party leaders and delegates at the edge of their seat, the don took a retrospection into the history of political parties in the past and their alignments, and concluded that the AC has done the unthinkable, by organizing a brainstorming session with academics to find a lasting solution to the nation’s problems, describing the scenario as unprecedented in the chequered history of the party politics in the country.
In the afternoon session of the conference on Thursday, the lecture was chaired by Aremo Olusegun Osoba, the guest lecturer, Professor Yemi Osibajo spoke on Mandate Protection, did a forensic analysis of the causes and effects of the fraudulent elections in the past, submitting that only the determined electorate, who wanted their votes counted could prevent rigging.
The former Lagos State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General further x-rayed some areas that could be explored by some unscrupulous politicians to rig, reiterating that only people’s determination to protect their mandate could sail through.
Commenting, the former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Osoba said that the analysis of the electoral banditry in Osun by the brilliant senior lawyer has said it all, noting the explanation on the time schedule for the number of votes recorded for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ile-Ife at the rate of 10 seconds per voter, which is not possible in the Nollywood was a classical example of a rigging machine.
On Friday session of the conference, a Professor of Law from the University of Lagos, Itse Sagay mounted the podium to deliver his lecture titled: Electoral Reform, chairmaned by the former Governor of Ondo State, Evangelist Olumilua and he truly did justice to the topic.
The don concluded that the badly framed laws could be operated for the positive development, if the operators elected to, and a perfect constitution could be negatively enforced if the operators chose to.
Rounding off the lecture series, the political titan, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a seasoned accountant turned politician delivered a thought-provoking lecture on a Global Economic Recession Implications For Nigerian State, and it was one lecture too many.
In a lecture chairmaned by the former Governor Adeniyi Adebayo, Tinubu pieced the lack of knowledge base in the country, a situation he described as a big hole to the nation’s development, before he assembled some measures he proposed as potential way out of the economic recession that is currently staring the masses in the face.
At the end of the deliberations, the followings were resolved as a communiqué:
- Fundamental changes in the political and economic structure of the Nigerian State are imperative for meaningful progress and development.
- The Action Congress, South West Zone is unequivocally committed to the promotion and enthronement of True Federalism, in all its ramifications, as the appropriate model for governance in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious state such as ours.
- The Conference recognizes the reformation of Nigeria’s electoral system as an immediate and urgent task that must be done. To this end, the Action Congress, South West Zone must, as a matter of urgency, work in concert with the party at the national level, other progressive political parties, civil society organizations for the formation of a National Electoral Reform Coalition (NARECO). This coalition will work as a pressure group to essentially ensure that the reforms recommended in the Report of the Justice Uwai’s Committee are implemented.
- As its contribution to mandate protection, the Action Congress, South West Zone must work assiduously to galvanize the Nigerian public to become Electoral Guards to spur positive conduct of the Nigerian Police and other security agencies during elections.
- The Action Congress, South West Zone notes the current attempts to amend the Constitution. Conference, however, believes that these are only cosmetic as a true Nigerian Constitution can only evolve from the expressed will of the ethnic nationalities through a Constituent Assembly whose recommendations are to be subjected to a National Referendum.
- Conference expresses alarm and condemnation over the attempt by the Presidency and Federal authorities to undermine the government of Ondo State under Dr. Olusegun Mimiko. This is a clear repudiation of President Yar Adua’s mantra of the Rule of Law. The actions of the presidency are totally inconsistent with the spirit of True Federation. The conference expresses its complete support for the heroic activities of members of the Action Congress in the National Assembly in blunting the heavy blow that might have been the lot of the Mimiko administration. Mr. President is humbly cautioned not to toe the inglorious path of his immediate predecessor in office.
- Conference observes certain recent ominous developments in Ekiti State in respect of the court-ordered gubernatorial re-run elections. Murders and other violent attacks being visited on members of the Action Congress in Ekiti State are the condemnable reaction of the People Deceive People (PDP) political party which is starkly aware of its unpopularity in Ekiti land. Conference supports the call for the re-deployment of the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Ola and the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mrs. Adebayo. The duo appear compromised hence incapable of ensuring credible re-run elections on April 25, 2009. Conference re-iterates the commitment of the Action Congress, South West Zone to resist any attempt to rig the forth coming elections in Ekiti State.
- The Conference congratulated the Osun State chapter of the Action Congress on the victory recorded in its struggle for the annulment of the purported elections into the Local Government Councils of the State. It lauded the Judiciary particularly the Court of Appeal, Oyo Division for having the courage to meet the expectations of the people of Osun State.
- The Conference acknowledged the fact that the Global Financial Crisis has hit the Nigerian economy hard. The Action Congress, South West Zone, therefore, recommends that there should be an immediate Federal stimulus spending through the use of Reserves and Excess Crude Account on infrastructure renewal, agricultural production, transport subsidy, health care and education support among others.
- Still on the global recession, Conference urged Federal Government to embark on pragmatic exchange rate management to stabilize the value of the Naira while strengthening the economy and lessening inflationary pressures.
- Conference recognizes the fact that deregulation of the downstream sector of the Petroleum Industry and removal of subsidy will on its own make economic sense in the long run. However, Conference may agree to long term deregulation if and only if serious attempts are made at channeling the savings to the re-invigoration of the important components of the super structure of the Nigerian economy, such as increased electricity generation, rural transport, mass transit and transport subsidy by way of direct non-taxable transport allowance to workers, as well as agricultural production and provision of security in the country.
The Conference was brought to an end at 5.00pm on Friday, March 20,2009.
By GOKE BUTIKA