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1st Prize Winning Essay, 2014 NWC Essay Competition

1st Prize Winning Essay, 2014 NWC Essay Competition

Here’s the first prize winning entry in the 2014 Naija Writers’ Coach Essay Competition written by Jeremiah Oluwabamise Nzere (see other winners here). It is reproduced below, unedited, for the reading pleasure and learning of other entrants and the rest of us.

Enjoy!

 

NATIONAL CONFERENCE: A WASTE, A PROGRESSION, OR WHAT?

After nationwide consultations, on 17th March 2014 Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Nigerian President declared the national conference open. As the conference is still in session, it may be premature to judge it before it ends. However, deductions from the origin, focus, and direction of the conference may provide a determination of its end.

Do we need a national conference? Yes. To neglect the issues that confront us as a nation – ethno-religious sentiments, deep-rooted mistrust, and a self-centred, “my people” mentality, with resultant corruption and oppression of minorities- would be akin to ignoring an elephant in a room. In our 53-year history, with the exception of the civil war era, we have never been more divisive, and on the brink of collapse than now. In the words of Junaid Mohammed a conference delegate, “it is probably our last chance to save this country”.1

Even so, is this, the kind of national conference we need? No. The primary issues that should be addressed, being ethno-religious, have been cordoned off by Dr. Jonathan as “no-go areas” probably due to their sensitive and inflammatory nature. However, these are the very issues threatening our very existence as a nation, and any solution to our malaise that neglects them, would be at best cosmetic. These issues threaten the conference itself. Based on the modus operandi for selection of delegates, it appears they would protect the interests of their nominating party, with the unintended consequence that national interests become secondary. Thus we hear of a “South-Eastern agenda to, and a Northern Position, on the conference.

The question then is: how can a meeting suffering the same problems as Nigeria proffer solutions to it? In the succinct words of British-Nigerian analyst, Lagun Akinloye, “the national conference is no panacea for Nigeria’s many challenges. Nigeria is too fragmented, its problems too deep, and its institutions too weak for it to simply talk its way out of its many decisions and ills”.2

As I study the deliberations at the conference, I cannot help wondering, what issues would we discuss that have not been discussed before? What solutions would we proffer that have not been proffered before? If 54 years of nationhood cannot solve a problem, how would four months of talk solve it, especially when our problem is not talking, but walking our talk?

I have no doubt that the conference would produce wonderful solutions, albeit regurgitated ones. Yet, the greatest threat facing the conference now is not the dearth of resolutions and recommendations to make, but the uncertain destination of its resolutions. As it stands, it is not yet clear if resolutions and recommendations would be placed before the country, in a referendum, or referred to the National Assembly for deliberations and adoption. Thus, the fate of the conference lies undecided as yet, as the constitutional status of the referendum has not been ratified by the National Assembly. If the National Assembly feels threatened, the resolutions may yet be lost in bureaucratic bottlenecks and the lack of political will to implement it.

The solution is not more talk. It is in the political will to do the right thing, to take the honourable road, and to put the nation ahead of ethno-religious and personal interest, regardless of trust in your neighbor to do the same. If we would do this, there would be no need for a national conference, for we would have truly imbibed the spirit of nationhood that this country sorely needs, and is looking to the national conference to provide. We are looking in the wrong place. Let us look into our hearts, and today, make a new resolution.

The answer to the poser: “Nation Conference: A Waste, a Progression, or What?” will be determined by the fate of the resolutions from this conference. At present the national conference is a progression because inclusive deliberation is a cardinal step in the right direction, even though the discussions at the conference are not all-inclusive, and do not address the heart of the matter. It would become a waste if it goes the way of previous conferences, and merely becomes a consultative document. Time would tell.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. The Punch Newspaper. 2014. 05.20 Jonathan designed confab to fail: An Interview with Junaid Mohammed. John Alechenu.
  2. Thinkafricapress.com. 2013.11.11 Nigeria’s National Dialogue Conference: Enhancing the Debate or Killing It? Lagun Akinloye.

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About Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

Writer. Difference Maker. Entrepreneur. Author, Your Right To Write & Vertical Writing. Winner, 11 Writing Prizes.

Comments

  1. Well, for me Tosin, the writer tried. However, he could have done much better. I think the central theme of this essay is whether the nation. confab. is of merit, demerit or both.

    Nevertheless, I think the writer goes for the latter. He sat at the fence for a while, and all of a sudden, he betrayed himself by this statement;

    ”The primary issues that should be addressed, being ethno-religious, have been cordoned off by Dr. Jonathan as “no-go areas” probably due to their sensitive and inflammatory nature. However, these are the very issues threatening our very existence as a nation, and any solution to our malaise that neglects them, would be at best cosmetic”.

    By this, it was well stated by him that the national confab. is a mere charade, a waste. And so, his conclusion would have been much more better, if he had aligned his argument to this logical premise….that was where he missed it entirely.

    Kudos to him though. But in an argumentative essay that i know, the conclusion should be well aligned to the premise of the argument, if not, the argument would be termed invalid and disqualified. My kind opinion though.
    Congratulations to him!

    Well done Tosin!

  2. Abdulghaniy says:

    Wow! Just stumbled across this on NWC few minutes ago. Kudos to this Iyke for his surgical analysis of the winning essay. I am sure MAT would have noted this. Thumbs up.

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