by Paul Osas
Having concluded its nationwide consultations, members of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue recently in Abuja applauded Nigerians for coming out to vent on national issues, adding that Nigerians are eagerly waiting the National conference.
The members – Mr Tony Uranta and Senator Khairat Gwadabe, who spoke separately, pointed out that many cynics about the conference were later convinced as people came out to present memoranda. They noted that although this was just the first phase of the consultations which took the form of town hall meetings, a lot of people thought it was the conference proper and were already raising issues and putting forward their arguments.
Gwadabe, a one-time senator representing FCT, said: “We just ended the first phase of dialogue/ consultative meetings which had taken a form of town hall meetings, everybody was free to come, free to attend, deliver and state their minds. As contained on our terms of reference, we wanted people to also have feedbacks from that, and we have had tremendous reactions. At many locations we have hundreds of memoranda and many came in through e-mail. A lot of people assumed this is a conference; many of them have actually come to ventilate and bring their issues on board. We have to keep reminding them that this was just a precursor to the conference itself, and for the responses, some cynics from the beginning eventually become converts.
“Those cynics were initially feeling that nothing good will come out of this, it was a distraction, waste of time, a lot of opinions in that regard. But gradually some of them are giving it a chance. But the good thing is that many of the people are not talking about breaking up, although we had few ones who did, they are very small in number and that’s a good one. I sat and I heard a lot, I am really impressed with the presentations.”
On his part, Uranta who doubles as Secretary General of the Nigerian National Summit Group (NNSG) said: “First of all, it has been very successful, we have found out that 80 to 90 percent Nigerians are eagerly awaiting this opportunity to come together and talk candidly about what they believe are things that bind us together and those things that we need to resolve that would tear us apart. More importantly however, I find that even though this is not a conference, it was just collecting of opinions based on our terms of reference. Nigerians already started putting issues on the table and actually debating them.”