The Sovereign National Conference

Eighty–five years after the unsolicited amalgamation of the Southern and Northern regions by Lord Lugard to create the Nigerian state, Sir Peters Smith, a British veteran diplomat made a very revealing statement. In his statement, he said that the view of the Secretary of State, with which he agreed, was that in Nigeria they should attempt to put together a large and powerful state with ample material resources which would play a leading part in the affairs of the continent and of the world. He went on to say that the view was attractive, but it involved forcing different ethnic and cultural groups into a single political structure. (Culled from “To Save Nigeria” by Goddy Onyefuru)

By the construct of the British colonialists, to say that Nigeria today is a powerful country with great potentials would definitely be an understatement. However, the country’s greatness remains to be seen only on the surface. Beneath, she is merely a collection of incongruous and bellicose groups of people held together by a fragile constitution. What this means is that while Nigeria looks like an imposing edifice, it’s precariously resting on a shaky foundation. Over the years, various leaders have tried to solidify this shaky foundation through frequent enactment of policies and occasional revision of the sacred constitution. But the more the leaders tried, the more the various groups seem to become unsatisfied, irate and intolerant of each other. This has given rise to an increase in heinous acts of terrorism, kidnapping, religious and ethnic violence, massive corruption, treasonable statements and agitations from ethnically polarised militant groups. And drawing example from countries such as Sudan and Yugoslavia, these incidents may just be a prelude to what would become a regrettable disintegration of the country.

It's on this troubling note that when Gani Fawehinmi on March 22, 2000 made his famous speech on the need and importance of convening a national conference, he...