Nigerians both at home and in the Diaspora are looking up to the conference to resolve most of the nation’s multifaceted challenges since the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates by Sir Lord Lugard.
President Goodluck Jonathan, on the occasion of the 53rd anniversary of Nigeria, in a nationwide broadcast announced an Advisory Committee mandated to establish modalities for a national conference aimed at resolving issues that currently cause friction in the polity.
Most Nigerians welcome the decision of President Jonathan since it takes into cognizance suggestions over the years by well-meaning Nigerians on the need for a national dialogue on the future of our beloved country while others especially the opposition took a different path. Yet, there is consensus, even among the oppositions, that there has been discontentment and alienation in the land which has fueled extremism, apathy and even predictions of catastrophe for the country. This means that, if one united Nigeria is still cherished; the bases for such unity must be negotiated and agreed upon; taking into consideration the issue of devolution of power, that affects us most, the existing relationship between the three tiers of government in Nigeria.
Religion, ethnicity, tribalism, not even politics is the bane of Nigeria. Fulanis from Katsina tends to their herd in Akokoland, Igbos ply their trade in faaway Sokoto without molestation, while several Kanuri women are getting married to Lagosians on daily basis; the only thing that separates us in Nigeria is the inequality in the sharing of our numerous resources as being held on to by various tiers of government. Once this is fixed we are more than close to the unity we desire as one indivisible entity.
Proper relationship between national and sub-national governments in a federal system should be a case of give-and-take between the two levels in a context of free negotiation between the two tiers. Thus, the relationship between national and sub-national units must be framed as constitutionally guaranteed interaction and transaction between coordinates, rather than super-ordinate and subordinate. The two levels are not to share just functions; they are to share sovereignty including resource sovereignty. It is not the incumbent central government that should determine unilaterally which power to transfer to regions or states. It is both levels of government that should negotiate which powers to leave for the central government for the common good and which to leave for regions or states for effective delivery of public goods and services to citizens. These are the central issues that pertain to constructing a federal polity.
Though in setting the agenda for the delegates, Mr President aptly put it that “when there are issues that constantly stoke tension and bring about friction, it makes perfect sense for the interested parties to come together to discuss.” Delegates must not be blinded by what part of the country they come from but guided by the fact that our large size of being together as a nation has its numerous advantage over any ethnic consideration. Every ethnic component of Nigeria will definitely struggle for survival in the event of any breakup. No one will find it easy.
Even the National Assembly, a well known body opposed to the convocation of a sovereign national conference as led by David Mark agreed to the fact that every matter about the union of ethnic groups that made up the country should be opened to discussion but with the warning that the dismemberment of the country should be a no-go area for the conference. This position of the National Assembly is definitely a glimmer of hope and delegates must take it as a tonic in all of their discussion.
Several units have expressed their readiness to either stay together or go their different ways through their representatives in the course of discussions at the ongoing confab, while the Yoruba people of the South-West geopolitical zone have expressed their position n the unity of Nigeria, other zones too have spoken of not being afraid of any eventual break-up but the break-up is one issue that we don’t really want to happen especially that we have come to bond together as one family for a very long time.
If the issue of devolution or separation of power among the federating units is not resolved by this conference then it would be difficult to enforce our continual co-existence as an entity. Even though most advocates of a Sovereign National Conference would argue that there should be no restrictions as to the issues to be discussed by the conference, we all must agree that Nigeria must remain as one indivisible entity. Yet, if at the end of the discussions, Nigerians from various backgrounds decide to go their separate ways peacefully, no one should halt them.
The Golden era that was taken away by military autocrats and sustained by post-military constitution and rulers is proper relationship between the central government and sub-national governments. True Federalism has been removed from our polity by the military since 1979 and the only remedy to this cannot be through lip service but conscious and deliberate action plan. The golden era can only be restored through establishment or re-establishment of federal system of government that recognizes the need of the majority and not the essentials of the few. Whether this is called political restructuring or restoration of federalism, what is at issue is having a proper share of powers between the central government and regions or states as federating units.
For us to agree to remain as one Nigeria, we must definitely look at the current lopsided structure of the entity called Nigeria. A structure of Thirty six states, with only four viable is not sustainable or reasonable structure. For us to achieve a united Nigeria there might be need to revert to the old working structure of regional government where the likes of Awolowo, Azikwe, Aminu Kano excelled within the ambit of the existing constitution of that era, no matter how flawed it was then.
With the caliber of delegates and the freedom granted by the convener of this conference, Nigeria is on the right path of designing a veritable future provided we seize the opportunity provided by the confab to move several steps towards a united nation where equality before the law and resource sharing is upheld by the constitution of the country drawn by men of vision and mission, with the unanimous approval of the people through a referendum.
Nigerians, especially the delegates must be wary of taking us back to the path of the conferences organized by Abdusalaam Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo saving us from the embarrassment of taking one step forward and four steps backward like the military in them. This National Conference is a golden opportunity to move closer to a united Nigeria if the business of discussion is done with every sense of sincerity and purposefulness.
Profile of Chuka Umunna,his career and work.
Chuka Umunna was born 17th of October, 1978 to a Nigerian Father and English-Irish Mother, he was educated at Hitherfield Primary School in Streatham, south London, at the voluntary aided Christ Church C of E Primary School (Cotherstone Road) in the Brixton Hill area of Streatham,and at the independent secondary school St. Dunstan’s College in Catford in south-east London. He obtained a 2:1 degree in English and French Law from the University of Manchester and then studied at the University of Burgundy in Dijon in France, and Nottingham Law School in Nottingham.
Education, equality, and community and youth engagement.
He trained at Herbert Smith the large “Magic Circle” City law firm: about his decision to join the firm he said “I wanted to join Herbert Smith because they were a big international firm, very much at the heart of the City, business and finance. Having entered thinking I wanted to be a hotshot corporate lawyer, I ended up wanting to become an employment lawyer because employment relates to people and their relationships. In 2006, he moved to the central London law firm, Rochman Landau, where he mainly acted for individuals and small and medium sized companies. As an employment lawyer, Umunna often spoke in the media on employment issues.
He is “Labour through and through” and says the Tories aren’t serious about equality, “despite what Cameron tries to say with his spin and presentation” and says the BSS is a very positive development, long overdue. But he warns that although Labour has traditionally represented Blacks: “We are in danger of falling behind on that if we don’t increase representation in the future. It’s not just about representation, it’s also about increasing out communities’ general participation in the political process. That’s something we must work on.”
Influence and motivation
At 27 Chuka Umunna has been in main street politics, Influenced by his father who is a died when he was 13. Chuka recalls moment with his father saying “It had a huge influence on my life. I had to grow up very, very quickly.” He added: “Politically my father had a big influence on me. He spoke out against the corruption in Nigeria, for better governance and got involved in politics in Anambra state. He narrowly missed out on winning the governorship of that state shortly before he died in a car crash. He lost because he refused to bribe anyone and was standing on an anti-corruption ticket.
Also motivating were his experiences while growing – In my youth I also often visited my father’s native Nigeria and came face to face with the extreme poverty one sees in Africa in the heart wrenching appeal videos produced by the likes of Oxfam and Comic Relief every year. I simply could not understand why some had so much, whilst others had so little. From there sprung a desire to do something about it and the other challenges we face.
he is presently a School Governor of Sunnyhill Primary School and sits on the Board of Sunnyhill Children’s Centre, both in Streatham Wells. He lives on Streatham High Road.
In addition, he sits on the Board of Generation Next, a not for profit social enterprise which provides activities for young people in London, and has been involved charitable youth work in Lambeth too.
He is a patron of Latimer Creative Media, a social enterprise which trains young people in digital media and a supporter of Cassandra Learning Centre, a charity raising awareness and working to stop domestic violence.
Prior to becoming Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Streatham, Chuka was Vice Chair of Streatham Labour Party from 2004 to 2008 and had held a variety of positions throughout the local party.
In the May 2010 general election, Chuka was elected to represent Streatham having received 20,037 votes, with the number of votes received by Labour rising from 18,950 in the previous general election in 2005. Turnout in Streatham increased by 11.5 percentage points at 62.8% compared with 51.3% in 2005.
He is a member of the GMB and Unite trade unions and sits on the Management Committee of progressive pressure group, Compass.
Since becoming an MP, he has been elected on to the Treasury select committee and become Ed Miliband’s parliamentary private secretary.
In October 2011, Chuka was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, replacing the Rt Hon John Denham MP who announced his resignation from Shadow Cabinet.
In this role, Mr Umunna leads the Opposition Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) team, leading for the opposition on a wide range of issues including business, enterprise, science and universities.
3a Mount Ephraim Road, Streatham, London, SW16 1NQ
Tel: 020 8769 5063
Spotlight on Gbenga Elegbeleye’s contribution
“Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was recently appointed as a Member of the CAF Disciplinary Board. He is a member of IBB Golf Club and a recipient of several awards”
Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye motivated by the desire to serve his people in higher capacity, resigned his appointment as Chairman Ondo Waste Management Board in 2006, to contest elections into the Federal House of Representatives.
- Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports
- Member House Committee on Defence
- Member House Committee on Appropriation
- Member House Committee on Works
- Member House Committee on Environment
- Member House Committee on Rural Development
- Member House Committee on Inter-parliamentary Affairs
- Member House Committee on Solid Minerals
As a member of the House of Representatives, he attracted several projects to his Federal Constituency. These include:
- Neighbourhood Sports Centre Iye road, Arigidi
- Sports Stadium at Oyinmo St, Ikare
- National Library Ikare
- Extension of electrification poles to Ojeka camp road; Odo Irun electrification, Oyimo, Ogunsusi road, Ilepa Ikare
- Erosion control and school furniture in Ogbagi
- Block of classrooms in the following schools, St George’s Pry School, Okeagbe, Salem School, Ekan Ikare, AUD School V Ishakunmi, Ikare, AUD School 2, Iku, Ikare, Local Govt Pry School Ajowa, Ebenezer Pry School Okorun, Ikare
- Several boreholes in most towns and villages, among many others
After serving as Director General, National Sports Commission, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was recently appointed as a Member of the CAF Disciplinary Board. He is a member of IBB Golf Club and a recipient of several awards and honours. These includes, Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Local Govt and Public Administration; Fellow, Chattered Institute of Public Administration; Fellow African Business School; Fellow, Certified Institute of Sales Management; Patron, SWAN, FCT; Patron SWAN, Ondo State; Patron NUJ, Ondo State; Gold Personality Award by Skye Sports; African Film Academy Award for Sports Development; National Youth Council Award for National Development; City People Award for Excellence in Politics; African Leadership Award for Sports Development among several others.
Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye is happily married to Solape, they are blessed with four children
HON. GBENGA ELEGBELEYE – OTOLORIN
“Further motivated by the desire to serve in higher capacity, he resigned his appointment as Chairman Ondo Waste Management Board in 2006, to contest elections into the Federal House of Representatives. Between June 2007 and June 2011, Hon. Elegbeleye was a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, where he served as Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports;”
Hon. Gbenga Otolorin Elegbeleye, popularly called “Otolorin” by his admirers was born in Ikare, Akoko North East Local Government Area of Ondo State. His educational background is made up as A.U.D Primary School, Ikare, St. Patrick’s’ Secondary School, Iwaro-Oka, University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) Ile Ife and Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti.
He obtained the following qualifications in his educational sojourn:
- Primary School Leaving Certificate
- West African School Certificate
- B.A. (Ife), Ile-Ife
- MPA (UNAD), Ado-Ekiti
As a result of his exemplary leadership qualities, in the Nigeria Youth Service Scheme, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was made the Administrative Officer of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Zone RS3 Kaduna, between 1988 and 1989, from where he ventured into private business.
Motivated by the desire to serve humanity, Hon. Gbenga in 1997 contested and won election as the youngest Chairman, Akoko North East Local Government Council in Ondo State. As a Local Government Chairman, he was also a member of Board of Ondo State Primary Education Board between 1997-98. Before this period, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye was the Assistant State Secretary of the National Republican Convention, NRC for the old Ondo State between 1990 – 1993.
Impressed by his achievements as Local Government Chairman and his successful exploits in other areas of human endeavour, the then Governor of Ondo State, Late Chief Olusegun Agagu in 2003 appointed him Chairman, Ondo State Waste Management Authority, and under his erudite leadership, Akure was adjudged by the then Federal Ministry of Inter-Government Affairs, the second cleanest State Capital in Nigeria, after Calabar, in 2004.
Further motivated by the desire to serve in higher capacity, he resigned his appointment as Chairman Ondo Waste Management Board in 2006, to contest elections into the Federal House of Representatives. Between June 2007 and June 2011, Hon. Elegbeleye was a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, where he served as Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports; Member House Committees on Defence, Appropriation, Works, Environment, Rural Development, Inter-parliamentary Affairs and Solid Minerals. As a member of the House of Representatives, he attracted several projects to his Federal Constituency. These includes the following: Neighbourhood Sports Centre Iye road, Arigidi; Sports Stadium at Oyinmo st, Ikare; National Library Ikare; Extension of electrification poles to Ojeka camp road; Odo Irun electrification, Oyimo, Ogunsusi road, Ilepa Ikare; erosion control and school furniture in Ogbagi, Block of classrooms in the following schools, St George’s Pry School, Okeagbe, Salem School, Ekan Ikare, AUD School V Ishakunmi, Ikare, AUD School 2, Iku, Ikare, Local Govt Pry School Ajowa, Ebenezer Pry School Okorun, Ikare; several boreholes in most towns and villages, among many others
Hon. Elegbeleye was a member of the Ondo State Football Association between 1998 and 2000, Chairman Ondo State Table Tennis Association (2004-2007), Vice Chairman Ondo State Sports Development Committee (2005-2009) and Chairman Rising Stars Football Club, Akure from 2004-2007, Proprietor, Ikare United Football Club, Member, NFA Fair-Play Committee, from 2004-2007, President Youths Sports Federation of Nigeria, Ondo State Chapter from 2003-2009. He also served as a member of the Ministerial Committee on the Reform of Football Administration in Nigeria between August and November 2011 and Member, Board of Directors, Abuja Investment Company between 2011 and 2013.
On May 15th 2013, the then President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, found his rich credentials in Sports Administration irresistible and appointed him, the Director General of the National Sports Commission. President Jonathan made the announcement during the Federal Executive Council meeting of May 15th, 2014.
During his stewardship as the Director General of the National Sports Commission, the Commission has experienced a change in fortune as Nigerian athletes, sportsmen and women have been winning international laurels across the globe.
On Friday 8th November 2013 at the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria defeated Mexico 3-0 to win the FIFA U- 17 World Cup a record fourth time having won it in 1985, 1993 and 2007 to emerge as the most successful country in the competition up to date.
This was also followed by another laudable achievement in the 2013 Commonwealth weightlifting game tagged Malaysia 2013 where the Nigerian female lifters won the women’s category of the competition with 8 golds, 3 silvers and 3 bronze medals in the competition held in Malaysia in November 2013. This was also followed up with a 3rd placement of the Home based Super Eagles in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) held in South Africa. Nigeria had never qualified for the competition, but the Eagles not only qualified but went as far as winning the bronze medal of the competition after beating hard-fighting Zimbabwe 1-0 in the 3rd place match decided at the Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town on Saturday February 1st, 2014.
He was Head of Delegation, Nigeria U-17 African Youth Games in Botswana, tagged “Gaborone 2014” where Nigeria gathered a massive 41 medals the best outing so far against the record of 10 medals, to emerge overall 3rd best in the Games after winning 19 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze medals.
Still under the leadership and stewardship of Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, also as Head of Delegation, Team Nigeria also finished strong in the Glasgow, Commonwealth Games in Scotland. It was Nigeria’s best outing in the history of the Commonwealth , winning 11 golds, 11 silvers and 14 Bronze medals in the 20th edition of the Games held between July 23 and August 3rd, 2014. Team Nigeria also emerged the best team at the 2014 Marrakech Africa Athletics Championships held in Marrakech, Morocco in August, 2014. The Super Falcons beat all African countries to emerge Champions of Africa Women’s Championship (AWC) held in Namibia in October 2014.
Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was recently appointed as a Member of the CAF Disciplinary Board. He is a member of IBB Golf Club and a recipient of several awards and honours. These includes, Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Local Govt and Public Administration; Fellow, Chattered Institute of Public Administration; Fellow African Business School; Fellow, Certified Institute of Sales Management; Patron, SWAN, FCT; Patron SWAN, Ondo State; Patron NUJ, Ondo State; Gold Personality Award by Skye Sports; African Film Academy Award for Sports Development; National Youth Council Award for National Development; City People Award for Excellence in Politics; African Leadership Award for Sports Development among several others, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye is married to Solape, they are blessed with four children
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