Saturday, March 21, 2015
What could have been a major disaster was averted just by divine providence in Owerri, the Imo State capital yesterday when a pedestrian bridge built by Governor Rochas Okorocha at Heroes' Children's Park, opposite Concorde Hotel, collapsed under the governor. The incident, which happened when the governor stopped over on his way to the NUJ Governorship Debate to interact with some students of Development Comprehensive Secondary School, Owerri,who were around the park when he came, caused a stir among on-lookers and passers- by. Trouble started when the governor took the students up the bridge to teach and inspire them on how to become leaders. No sooner had the governor started the teachings with the students when the bridge caved in with the iron bracing of the bridge cut under the weight of the governor and the students and the students panicked and started shouting "Jesus! Jesus!!" while the governor feigned ignorance of the situation even as his security aides rounded the spot to help him down. Our correspondent who was there reports that when the incident happened, the governor's aides, especially the members of the security operatives, who were visibly shaken, started shouting to the students: "Jump out! Get down! Jump out!" and the students jumped out from the bridge and ran for their dear lives. In the midst of the melee, the governor said "we're too many here, please jump down". The UNION can report that this was the first time the bridge was being used since Governor Okorocha constructed it two years ago. It would be recalled that Akachi Road Bridge and several buildings (including the multi-million naira Imo Film Academy, a new security gate being constructed behind the main entrance gate to the Government House; office complex being constructed in the Imo State university campus, Owerri as well Princess Hotel Okigwe) constructed by the governor in the state had collapsed raising questions about the standard of such projects.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
H.E Owelle Rochas Okorocha Governor of Imo State, Nigeria. I write you this letter in overriding public interest as a citizen, indigene and member of Ihiagwa Community in Owerri west LGA. It is not on any other platform, my letter is also informed by the spirit of open government which democracy seeks to promote in any society including Nigeria, where it is our choice for governance. Above all, my letter is a statement on the confidence that I and our communities have in your ability to intervene and address problems like ours in the road sector. This confidence is built on the reported track record of your achievements in construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation of roads in the state since you assumed office to rescue Imo State. The examples are many and visible for even the worst critics of the administration to see and appreciate. Your Exellency, may I painfully inform you that Nekede/Ihiagwa to Eziobodo housing two major institutions in the state, is presently almost cut off from the rest of the city. The only major road that connects These communities (Okolochi, Emeabiam, Eziobodo, Ihiagwa, Nekede) with the rest of the City is in a deplorable state. This road has been neglected for over 12 years. It has no major obstacles like bridges or difficult terrain .The only problem of the road over these years can easily be traced to promises made and promises broken! Sir, for us, it is a sad commentary that a well-known community like ours reputed in history as the cradle of Owerri civilisation has found itself in such a sorry state in terms of bad road. Under its present terrible state, a journey from Owerri to Ihiagwa that should not last more than 10 minutes, now drags for over one hour. There is no doubt that the Ihiagwa - Nekede road in its current condition is perhaps the worst road in Imo state. And this is not an exaggeration. A trip on this road is a terrible experience that no one is prepared to recommend even to one’s worst enemy. This is why for some time now, many of us from Ihiagwa neither travel home nor risk the shame of inviting friends and well-wishers to visit our community. We hibernate in major cities across the country in regrets while our kits and kin at home especially commuters who must use the road on daily basis groan in fury and penury. In the same direction, transporting of farm produce which is in abundance in commercial quantity from Emeabiam, Okolochi, Eziobodo Ihiagwa in IMO State and the neighbouring communities is jeopardised. Other implications include poor access to medical care and help on similar emergencies in Ihiagwa and the affected communities with far reaching severe consequences on women and children, the old and the young. In November 2013, our joy knew no bounds when you visited our community, you even walked bare footed on the mud and said we will celebrate last Christmas with this same road. All of us went into jubilation believing that a “Daniel had finally come to judgment”. We thought that our pains, frustration anguish on the road were over. While publicly appreciating the State Government’s gesture, Ihiagwa in particular offered to provide any required assistance and support to the contractors to avoid stories and excuses in getting the important job done. Unfortunately, Your Excellency, it is sad, a big shame and disappointment that we have been failed, Your Excellency, another Christmas is by the corner. Ihiagwa community and her people that gave it an opportunity to make an important contribution to national development in that part of the state. We are utterly disappointed on the performance of the contractors if that road was actually awarded. While we have no information on what the specific problem may be, we have also seen no signs, equipment, skilled human manpower or any form of passionate commitment on the part of any company or Government to embark and complete this project. The character and performance of this company/government has eroded our confidence on the campaign to give equal opportunities. We are deeply concerned that our road has been rendered a failed project. Indeed, no one, not even the contractor, has offered any explanation for this shoddy performance. To worsen our situation, there appear to be some conspiracy of silence around this project. The suspicion of our community is high as all those who should speak out have chosen to keep quiet while the benefitting communities die slowly in silence. In the light of this unfortunate situation, I Chinedu Opara wishes to appeal for an urgent intervention of our Amiable Governor, Owelle Rochas, to institute a full investigation into circumstances that has led to this failed project if this project was awarded. I also request the Governor to do us a rare honour of visiting Ihiagwa, inspect this road to see things for himself because seeing is believing. We believe very strongly that our road will not remain the same after the third visit of the Governor. We suspect that reports from your field officers on this particular project are a fiction, anything but reality. Dear Governor, all that Ihiagwa-Nekede road requires to relieve our people from these decades of pain and bondage is a competent contractor to take over the project supported with good budgetary provision. And this is not difficult because the project is a very small one but with huge social economic benefits. As a major support base for your administration in Owerri East, Ihiagwa/Nekede as affected communities are ready and willing to offer assistance that may be required. We trust that this passionate request for your kind urgent intervention will attract your desired attention in the service of man and country. We think this is a legacy, you must leave behind. Thank you Your Excellency. Yours Faithfully Chinedu Felix Opara +234(0)8038399483 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Press Release Youth Farm (Y-Farm) Festival and Campaign- August 12, 2014 Abuja, Nigeria (20/05/2014) – Fresh & Young Brains Development Initiative (FBIN) cordially invites the public to the first regional Youth Farm (Y-Farm) Festival and the kickoff of the Campaign? The festival and the kickoff campaign will be held in Abuja, Nigeria on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 10:00am, with the view to “Transforming Nigeria and indeed Africa’s Agriculture to engaging youth for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods for inclusive growth and sustainable development, the campaign aims to establishing and promoting 10,000 youth-led farms across the continent of Africa by 2020. The Y-Farm Campaign adopts a two-pronged approach of promoting youth-led farms and the benefits of farming for sustainable livelihoods. The campaign is focused on amplifying youth voice (especially young farmers’ voice) to promote Sustainable Agriculture among the younger generation. The goal is o promote a youth-led agribusiness society, reduce poverty and increase active youth participation in sustainable agriculture by 2020. The Youth Farm (Y-Farm) partners, stakeholders and allies include: ACTIVISTA, ACTIONAID, AFRICAN, YOUTH INITIATIVE ON CLIMATE CHANGE (AYICC), AFYIDEF, AIDE, ALEXIJAN CONSULTS, BEN TV, CARREFOUR NIG. LTD, CEDSI NIGERIA, CEED, CENTRE LSD, CODE, COMMUNICATY LIFE PROJECT, CPALD ABUJA, DAVID MARK BONAVENTURE INITIATIVE, DIRECORATE FOR TECHNICAL CORPORATION IN AFRICA, DYNAMIC WOMEN, ECOWAS COMMISSION, NIGERIA, FARMERS CHRONICLE, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF YOUTH DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ORGANIZATION (FAO) NIGERIA, GALAXY TV, GAVICKY FARMS, GLOBAL PEACE FOUNDATION, GRICK-IT, HEINRICH BOLL FOUNDATION, IMPACT AGRICULTURE PROJECT, INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT, KARABOW, KITTYS CONFECTIONAIRES, LEDSI-NYERI, NIGERIAN AGRIC INSURANCE CORPORATION, NETWORK OF AFRICAN YOUTH FOR DEVELOPMENT, NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA, NEWSAN, NIGERIA AGRICULTURE SUMMIT GROUP, KADUNA, NIGERIAN PILOT NEWSPAPER, NIWAASA, OFFICE OF SPECIAL ADVISER TO NIGERIAN PRESIDENT ON YOUTH EMPOWERMENT, OFFICE OF THE SENIOR SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT ON YOUTH & STUDENT MATTERS, ONE.ORG, OXFAM NIGERIA, PEACE FRONT NIGERIA, PPP DIVISION AWARD, RACHVID INVESTMENT LTD, RYAN, SAVE THE CHILDREN, UK (NIGERIAN OFFICE), SOUTH SAHARAN SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION, UPI NIGERIA, VEINNET, VOICES FOR FOOD SECURITY, WORLD YOUTH PEACE ORGANIZATION, YOUNG MEN EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE, YOUTH PROGRAM ON AGRICULTURE AND ENTERPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT (YPAED) and YOUTHWASH NETWORK (NIGERIA). The festival is expected to host over 500 Agriculture stakeholders, including Ministers, Ambassadors, African professionals, International and Local NGO practitioners, and young farmers, it shall also feature concert, award, exhibition and fundraising to support Youth Farmers on the continent For information on how to participate, donate or sponsor, please contact, Nkiru ********, CEO/Founder FBIN on +234(0)8053647180, 07066817374 or email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: #YFarm, @fbinaija, @fbinaija1. Please visit our website for further information on www.freshbrainsinitiativeng.org.
Monday, April 28, 2014
ACF, Northern Govs Commiserate With Sambo Over Brother’ The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on Monday commiserated with Vice President Namadi Sambo over the death of his younger brother, Capt. Sabo Sambo. In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Muhammad Ibrahim, the ACF described the death of Sambo’s brother, who died in a ghastly motor accident on Sunday, as shocking. “It was with grief and shock that ACF learnt of the death of Capt. Sabo Sambo, the younger brother of the Vice President, Namadi Sambo. “From God we come and to Him we shall all return”, the statement read, adding that death was the ultimate end for all mortals, and noted that life is equally transient. The statement quoted the ACF as saying that, “the good deeds and service to humanity done by each person shall continue to live after him”, “We are aware that Capt. Sambo has been flying for over 30 years; from the defunct Nigeria Airways, Presidential Fleet to Nigeria Police Aircraft, all on service to his fatherland. “Capt. Sambo would be remembered for his diligence, commitment to service and most importantly, his humility. “We commiserate with the family of the Vice President, and pray to Almighty Allah to grant the departed soul eternal rest in Aljannah Firdaus. “We also commiserate with the bereaved family and pray Allah to give them the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss”. Also, the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) consoled the Vice President over his brother’s death. In a condolence message, the NSGF Chairman, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger, on Monday said: “We feel and share in your grief. Take heart”. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Capt. Sambo, who was the immediate younger brother to the vice president, died on Sunday on the Bill Clinton drive, Airport Road, Abuja, in a car accident.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
37 PDP Lawmakers Join APC (+Updates) The current crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, took a shocking dimension on Wednesday as 37 members of the House of Representatives who were formerly under the umbrella of PDP have defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC). According to lawmakers, the former PDP members are joining the APC because of “division and factionalisation” within the ruling party. Among the defectors are the Chairman, House Committee on Publicity, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, from Kwara State and Dakuku Peterside from Rivers State. Tambuwal read out the names of the defectors on the floor and stood up to acknowledge their decision to abandon the PDP. They said their action was backed by Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). There was jubilation on the floor as the APC members hugged the defectors and shook hands with them. For PDP members, most of them looked worried, but some of them shouted “PDP, power!” The defectors soon filed before Tambuwal, shaking hands with him. Also among those who have defected to the APC are leaders of the Kawu Baraje-led faction of the PDP in Bauchi State. Led by Abubakar Doma, the group was received by the party’s chieftain in the state and former Minister of Police Affairs Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame. Speaking to newsmen, Doma explained that the development was aimed at ensuring justice and fairness in the country. He also rubbished the claim by the New PDP former state chairman, Muhammed Lawal Isah, that the faction had reconciled with the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. Doma disclosed that aside Isah, New PDP members and executives across the 20 local governments in the state had also crossed to the APC. He said: “The Bauchi State chapter of the new PDP has since joined the progressive national leadership of APC and has since been received by the party under the leadership of the former Police Affairs Minister, Dr. Lame. It is noteworthy that our resolution to join the APC was unanimous and had no second thought.’’ The defectors therefore warned that they would not hesitate to institute a legal action against anybody who continues to sponsor advertorials in newspapers, linking them with the old or new PDP and its affairs, saying they were committed to working spiritedly towards the victory of the APC in 2015. Doma said, “By this remarks, we are calling on the leadership of the APC in the state to dismiss any insinuation meant to ridicule our genuine integration into the party with all our subjects. We remain loyal and committed party members who are ready to use our time, abilities and resources, to work hard in ensuring the success of the party.’’
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
In what is turning out to be a season of open letters, daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Iyabo, has ruled out further communication with her father till death, describing him as a liar, manipulator, two-faced hypocrite determined to foist on President Goodluck Jonathan what no one would contemplate with him as president. Senator Iyabo Obasanjo in a letter to her father accused him of having an egoistic craving for power and living a life where only men of low esteem and intellect thrive. In the 11-page letter dated December 16, 2013 exclusively obtained by Vanguard, Iyabo accused her father of orchestrating a third term for himself as president, cruelty to family members, abandonment of children and grandchildren, and also, a legendary reputation of maltreatment of women. Iyabo who forswore further political engagements in Nigeria denied any political motive for her missive, and described Nigeria as a country where her father and his ilk have helped to create a situation where smart, capable people bend down to imbeciles to survive. She particularly noted her experience as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health when she led the committee on a retreat appropriated for in the budget only for her to be prosecuted for it. Iyabo, first child of the former president, started the letter titled, Open Letter to my Father with a 4th century Chinese proverb by Mencius which states: “The great man is he who does not lose his child’s heart.” Her letter: “It brings me no joy to have to write this but since you started this trend of open letters I thought I would follow suit since you don’t listen to anyone anyway. The only way to reach you may be to make the public aware of some things. As a child well brought up by my long-suffering mother in Yoruba tradition, I have been reluctant to tell the truth about you but as it seems you still continue to delude yourself about the kind of person you are and I think for posterity’s sake it is time to set the records straight. “I will return to the issue of my long-suffering mother later in this letter. “Like most Nigerians, I believe there are very enormous issues currently plaguing the country but I was surely surprised that you will be the one to publish such a treatise. I remember clearly as if it was yesterday the day I came over to Abuja from Abeokuta when I was Commissioner of Health in OgunState, specifically to ask you not to continue to pursue the third term issue. “I had tried to bring it up when your sycophantic aides were present and they brushed my comments aside and as usual you listened to their self-serving counsel. For you to accuse someone else of what you so obviously practiced yourself tells of your narcissistic megalomaniac personality. Everyone around for even a few minutes knows that the only thing you respond to is praise and worship of you. People have learnt how to manipulate you by giving you what you crave. The only ones that can’t and will not stroke your ego are family members who you universally treat like shit (sic) apart from the few who have learned to manipulate you like others. “Before I continue, Nigerians are people who see conspiracy and self-service in everything because I think they believe everyone is like them. This letter is not in support of President Jonathan or APC or any other group or person, but an outpouring from my soul to God. I don’t blame you for the many atrocities you have been able to get away with, Nigerians were your enablers every step of the way. People ultimately get leaders that reflect them. “Getting back to the story, I made sure your aides were not around and brought up the issue, trying to deliver the presentation of the issue as I had practiced it in my head. I started with the fact that we copied the US constitution which has term limits of two terms for a President. As is your usual manner, you didn’t allow me to finish my thought process and listen to my point of view. Once I broached the subject you sat up and said that the US had no term limits in the past but that it had been introduced in the 1940s after the death of President Roosevelt, which is true. I wanted to say to you: when you copy something you also copy the modifications based on the learning from the original; only a fool starts from scratch and does not base his decisions on the learning of others. In science, we use the modifications found by others long ago to the most recent, as the basis of new findings; not going back to discover and learn what others have learnt. Human knowledge and development and civilization will not have progressed if each new generation and society did not build on the knowledge of others before them. The American constitution itself is based on several theories and philosophies of governance available in the 18th century. Democracy itself is a governance method started by the ancient Greeks. America’s founding fathers used it with modifications based on what hadn’t worked well for the ancient Greeks and on new theories since then. “As usual in our conversations, I kept quiet because I know you well. You weren’t going to change your mind based on my intervention as you had already made up your mind on the persuasion of the minions working for you who were ripping the country blind. When I spoke to you, your outward attitude to the people of the country was that you were not interested in the third term and that it was others pushing it. Your statement to me that day proved to me that you were the brain behind the third term debacle. It is therefore outrageous that you accuse the current President of a similar two-facedness that you yourself used against the people of the country. “I was on a plane trip between Abuja and Lagos around the time of the third term issue and I sat next to one of your sycophants on the plane. He told me: “Only Obasanjo can rule Nigeria”. I replied: “God has not created a country where only one person can rule. If only one person can rule Nigeria then the whole Nigeria project is not a viable one, as it will be a non-sustainable project” “I don’t know how you came about Yar’Adua as the candidate for your party as it was not my priority or job. Unlike you, I focus on the issues I have been given responsibility over and not on the jobs of others. It was the day of the PDP Presidential Campaign in Abeokuta during the state-by-state tour of 2007 that Yar’Adua got sick and had to be flown abroad. The MKO Abiola Stadium was already filled with people by 9am when I drove by (and) we had told people based on the campaign schedule that the rally would start at noon. At 11 am I headed for the stadium on foot; it was a short walk as there were so many cars already parked in and out. As I walked on with two other people, we saw crowds of people leaving the stadium. I recognized some of them as politicians and I asked them why people were leaving. They said the Presidential candidate had died. I was alarmed and shocked. I walked back home and received a call from a friend in Lagos who said the same and added that he had died in the plane carrying him abroad for treatment and that the plane was on its way to Katsina to bury him. I called you, and told you the information and that the stadium was already half-empty. You told me to go to the stadium and tell the people on the podium to announce that the Presidential candidate had taken ill that morning but the rest of the team, including you and the Vice-Presidential candidate would arrive shortly. I did as I was told, but even the people on the podium at first didn’t make the announcement because they thought it was true that Yar’Adua had died. I had to take the microphone and make the announcement myself. It did little good. People kept trooping out of the stadium. Your team didn’t arrive until 4pm and by this time we had just a sprinkling of people left. That evening after the disaster of a rally, you said you had insisted that the Presidential candidate fly to Germany for a check-up although you said he only had a cold. I asked why would anyone fly to Germany to treat a cold? And you said “I would rather die than have the man die at this time.” I thought of this profound statement as things later unfolded against me. Then I thought it a stupid statement but as usual I kept quiet, little did I know how your machinations for a person would be used against me. When Yar’Adua eventually died, you stayed alive, I would have expected you to jump into his grave. I left Nigeria in 1989 right after youth service to study in the US and I visited in 1994 for a week and didn’t visit again until your inauguration in 1999. In between, you had been arrested by Abacha and jailed. We, your children, had no one who stood with us. Stella famously went around collecting money on your behalf but we had no one. We survived. I was the only one of the children working then as a post-doctoral fellow when I got the call from a friend informing me of your arrest. A week before your arrest, you had called me from Denmark and I had told you that you should be careful that the government was very offended by some of your statements and actions and may be planning to arrest or kill you as was occurring to many at the time. The source of my information was my mother who, agitated, had called me, saying I should warn you as this was the rumour in the country. As usual you brushed aside my comments, shouting on the phone that they cannot try anything and you will do and say as you please. The consequence of your bravado is history. We, your family, have borne the brunt of your direct cruelty and also suffered the consequences of your stupidity but got none of the benefits of your successes. Of course, anyone around you knows how little respect you have for your children. You think our existence on earth is about you. By the way, how many are we? 19, 20, 21? Do you even know? In the last five years, how many of these children have you spoken to? How many grandchildren do you have and when did you last see each of them? As President you would listen to advice of people that never finished high school who would say anything to keep having access to you so as to make money over your children who loved you and genuinely wished you well. “At your first inauguration in 1999, I and my brothers and sisters told you we were coming from the US. As is usual with you, you made no arrangements for our trip, instead our mom organized to meet each of us and provided accommodation. At the actual swearing-in at Eagle Square, the others decided to watch it on TV. Instead I went to the square and I was pushed and tossed by the crowd. I managed to get in front of the crowd where I waved and shouted at you as you and General Abdulsalam Abubakar walked past to go back to the VIP seating area. I saw you mouth ‘my daughter’ to General Abdullahi who was the one who pulled me out of the crowd and gave me a seat. As I looked around I saw Stella and Stella’s family prominently seated but none of your children. I am sure General Abdullahi would remember this incident and I am eternally grateful to him. Getting back to my mother, I still remember your beating her up continually when we were kids. What kids can forget that kind of violence against their mother? Your maltreatment of women is legendary. Many of your women have come out to denounce you in public but since your madness is also part of the madness of the society, it is the women that are usually ignored and mistreated. Of course, you are the great pretender, making people believe you have a good family life and a good relationship with your children but once in a while your pretence gets cracked. When Gbenga gave a ride to help someone he didn’t know but saw was in need and the person betrayed his trust by tapping his candid response on the issues going on between you and your then vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, you had your aides go on air and denounce the boy before you even spoke to him to find out what happened. What kind of father does that? Your atrocities to some of my other siblings I will let them tell in their own due time or never if they choose. Some of the details of our life are public but the people choose to ignore it and pretended we enjoyed some largesse when you were President.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Remarks by His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR On the Occasion of the Inauguration of the National Advisory Committee On our Country’s Conversation towards a Greater Nigeria. State House, Presidential Villa, Abuja Monday October 7th 2013 PROTOCOLS 1. Today, we are taking historic and concrete steps that will further strengthen our understanding, expand the frontiers of our inclusiveness and deepen our bond as one people under God. 2. In my address to the Nation on the occasion of our 53rd Independence and Golden Anniversary as a Republic, I announced that in response to the yearnings of our people, we had decided to take on the responsibility of decisively and genuinely exploring the option of a National Conversation. 3. In furtherance of this objective, Government announced the names of some Nigerians, with wide experience from various disciplines, to form membership of an Advisory Committee to facilitate a most acceptable process that will bring our aspirations to fruition. Our gathering here today is to formally inaugurate this child of necessity, the Advisory Committee to midwife this Conversation. 4. Permit me to very quickly review the foundational principles that drive our action, and also address a few matters arising. Firstly, let me emphasize that this is a National Project, a sincere and fundamental undertaking, aimed at realistically examining and genuinely resolving, longstanding impediments to our cohesion and harmonious development as a truly united Nation. 5. There is a view by some of our people that we do not need to sit together to dialogue over the socio-political challenges facing our country. Some believe that because we have held several Conferences in the past, we do not need to hold another one. I was one of those who exhibited scepticism on the need for another Conference or Dialogue. My scepticism was borne out of the nomenclature of such a Conference, taking into cognizance existing democratic structures that were products of the will of the people. 6. However, we are in a democracy, and in a democracy; elected leaders govern at the behest of the citizenry. As challenges emerge, season after season, leaders must respond with best available strategies to ensure that the ship of state remains undeterred in its voyage. 7. Nations rise to the challenges that each epoch presents. It is imperative therefore, that in our march to nationhood, we have to be dynamic in our approach and response to the problems, even as we seek solutions to them. We cannot proffer yesterday's solutions to today's problems. 8. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let us remind ourselves of the gains from previous Conferences and Dialogues. The Conferences that were held before 1960 were designed to produce a political system and a roadmap to Nigeria's independence. 9. The Constitutional Conference of 1957 in London, for example, effectively prepared Nigeria for Independence. The Eastern and Western regions were granted self-government in 1957, while the Northern region got its own in 1959. The Office of the Prime Minister was created and it was also decided that the Federal Legislature would be Bi-cameral. 10. Furthermore, the Constituent Assembly of 1978 gave us the 1979 Constitution and also created the current Presidential System with its attendant checks and balances and Fundamental Human Rights provisions. The 1999 Constitution we operate today, is a successor to the 1979 Constitution and records show that the 1999 Constitution also benefited from reports and recommendations arising from the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference. 11. Although not enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, the idea of the current Six Geo-Political Zones that have become one of the avenues for equitable distribution of projects and public offices in Nigeria was also a product of Dialogue that emerged from the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference. 12. The 2005 National Political Reform Conference produced a number of key recommendations that were sent to the 5th Assembly, which were however not perfected. In 2010, I reasoned that the outstanding recommendations from the 2005 Conference be revisited. 13. It was my view that Government is a continuum and that we must find ways to strengthen the foundation of our Union. I proceeded to set up the Justice Alpha Belgore Committee with a mandate to review the report for possible implementation, especially the areas were there was a common agreement. The committee worked hard and came out with its report that included a number of Bills, which were forwarded to the National Assembly. 14. We believe that these Bills will form key components of the on-going Constitutional Review by the National Assembly. 15. Clearly, every dialogue adds something valuable to our evolving Nation. The urgency of a National Conversation in the present therefore, need not be over emphasized. 16. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as we continue to strive to build a strong and virile Nation, especially in the midst of agitations and tensions, we cannot deny the fact that sitting down to talk is one right step in calming down tensions and channelling our grievances, misgivings and suggestions into more positive use for the good of our Country. 17. Let me use this opportunity to thank the Senate President, and the leadership and members of the National Assembly for the support they have given to this important National Project. 18. The concept of participatory democracy is such that even after the people have given their representatives the mandate to make laws and act on their behalf, there is also a space for the governed to make further input into the political processes, without undermining the authority of the statutory bodies. Sovereignty continues to be with the people even as the people evolve strategies and tactics to strengthen its foundation for the benefit of successor generations. 19. It is this sort of collaboration between the people and established institutions of government, that will allow for a robust outcome that leads to greater understanding and a more cohesive and inclusive Union. For me, there is no alternative to inclusivity, equity and justice in a modern democratic state. 20. I will therefore like to allay the fears of those who think the Conference will call the integrity of Nigeria into question. This National Discourse will strengthen our union and address issues that are often on the front burner, and are too frequently ignored. 21. Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Committee Members, this is a serious task, and history beckons on you not to disappoint our people. I want to charge you to consult widely before sitting down to develop the framework that will guide and guard the proceedings of the discussions. 22. In the task before you, no voice is too small and no opinion is irrelevant. Thus, the views of the sceptics and those of the enthusiasts must be accommodated as you formulate this all important framework. This Conversation is a People’s Conversation and I urge you to formulate an all-inclusive process that protects the people’s interest. 23. Let me also urge the Advisory Committee not only to be alive to the expectations of our people, but to bear in mind, that what we desire is what can work for the good of our people and country. The goal is to bequeath a better and a greater Nigeria to the present and the generation that is to come. 24. Ladies and Gentlemen, We have wasted too much time and resources, bickering over sectional versions of what define reality. This is an open-ended luxury we can no longer afford. Let us move forward, with honest conviction and patriotic courage, to strengthen this Republic, and get it to work better and brighter, for all of us, to the glory of God. 25. On this note, I hereby inaugurate the National Advisory Committee on this significant National Assignment and give the Committee six weeks to submit its report. I thank you for accepting to serve and I wish you the very best of wisdom in this very important call to duty. 26. Congratulations! I thank you.