The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, on Monday said that if the national conference must be a success, all ethnic groups must be represented at the talks just as it warned that attention must not only be focused on the major ethnic groups in the country.
The Forum’s President and Secretary – Professor Jerry Gana and Mr. John Dara – respectively, in a statement suggested that every ethnic group must have at least one representative at the talks before proportional seats were allotted to the bigger ethnic groups and other interests.
The Forum, which commended President Goodluck Jonathan for taking the initiative to constitute an advisory committee on the proposed national dialogue, expressed satisfaction with the quality and composition of the members of the committee and urged them to ensure that the national dialogue was truly representative, credible and patriotic.
The Forum said, “We also hope that the conference will focus less on politics and posturing, and avoid reckless brinkmanship. We must proffer workable solutions to the developmental problems facing our country. We need urgent solutions to the problems of poverty, unemployment, low productivity, insecurity, corruption and the re-occuring mismanagement of our resources and opportunities.
“The leadership and members of the Middle Belt Forum commend the wisdom and political sagacity of President Goodluck Jonathan in acceding to the vociferous calls for a National Conference. This is a further confirmation of his responsiveness to the yearnings of the public. While we had advised against a Sovereign National Conference because of the obvious institutional conflicts, we also firmly took the position that national discourse, dialogue and conferences are indeed necessary democratic tools for promoting national understanding, harmony and cohesion. We are therefore enthusiastic about this proposed conference, and we salute the courage of Mr. President in boldly convening it.
“We need to see this Dialogue as an opportunity for national reconciliation, restoration of trust and rededication to the onerous task of accelerated national development. The time has come for us as Nigerians to rise above debilitating self-criticism, self-doubt and self destruction. We must learn to support whoever has our mandate to govern by being more charitable while giving constructive counsels” the Forum added.