…The intricacies of a national conference that is sovereign
By Jide Ajani
Away from the maddening political choristers, this is an interview that attempts to remove the fog from the eyes of both pro and anti Sovereign National Conference, SNC, politicians. John Moyibi Amoda is a Professor of political science of international repute. When Sunday vanguard decided to speak with him on the raging controversy over the SNC, it went with a level of expectations.
Amoda did not disappoint. Though verging some times on the esoteric and complex realism, Amoda’s insight into the arguments on both sides of the divide bring a very different perspective to the argument all together. To understand his thesis, please follow his choice of words. Excerpts:
The buzz word today is SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE, SNC. As a professor of political science, what sense do you make of the fervency for this call now?
Why now? Why the call for NC; why call for SC? Why SNC now; why the urgency now? Why now? What is different about now as opposed to previous calls for SNC is the fact that SNC has assumed the status of a national consensus about its desirability. The call for SNC is no longer the view of a dissident minority. The Sheraton Conference of The Summit Group chaired by Professor Pat Utomi cut across regional, ethnic, religious and ideological divides. As you noted it is become a panacea for its proponents.
As its proponents have moved the prescriptions of SNC to the centre stage, by that very achievement they have also compelled their opponents to forge an opposing coalition. The polarization of the Establishment into pro and anti SNC interest groups now characterizes the search for solutions to the problem Nigeria has become. Why the call for National Conference now?
The question itself reveals the assumption of its proponents; a national conference is proposed to address the root causes of the Nation-In-Crises. Poverty, corruption, militancy, communal violence pitching indigenes against settlers, boundary conflicts between communities, all these contextualized by Boko Haram insurgency, frame conflict generating reform policies of government.
All these issues together describe the Nation-In-Crisis and turn attention to what are the determinants of these crises. Those who have reached the conclusion that Nigeria’s system of government and governance is faulty are calling for a Sovereign National Conference. Those who believe that the Nation-In-Crisis operates a system with faults, are pressing for reform of the subsisting order.
In between, is the President’s advocacy of a Transformation Regime that is yet to be fully articulated in terms of analysis and prescription. No one is at rest in the present situation. But all are in agreement that there is need for talk, talk among citizen groups about the nation and how its crises are to be understood and addressed. The anti-subsidy mass protests have defined the attitude of the citizenry – which summarized in one word is distrust of government.
Stemming from these calls, and understanding the complexities of today’s Nigeria, would you say calls for a SNC are justified?
The call for a SNC is not frivolous. No one can say the Nigerian ship of state is not in troubled waters. There is a gale out there and the warnings concerning “Things Falling Apart” because the centre no longer holds are to be taken seriously. Thus the question is not one of justification because people like Professor Ben Nwabueze have reached the conclusion that an SNC is required.
The question is how are conclusions from root_cause analyses to be evaluated? SNC is a prescription from analysis and evaluation is not the conducting of a vote on agreement or disagreement on the proposition that a SNC is required. Evaluation is not an action call. Evaluation involves going over the facts described, understanding the facts in terms of the integrity of the structures of Nigeria as a society instituted by its builders.