Members of the newly constituted committee in Abuja on Monday are Emele Uka (chairman); Kate Okparake, Etimbule Sunday, John Achimugu, Chukwuma Igwe, and Albert Uko, who will serve as Secretary.
Speaking at the inauguration of the committee, CAN President, Ayo Oritsejafor, said the body was in support of the proposed dialogue announced by President Goodluck Jonathan on October 1, but added that there should be no ‘no-go areas’ on issues to be discussed.
“There is no better time for the country to have a dialogue than now” adding, “Today for me and for CAN, is historic and important because we are taking an important step in the right direction,” he said.
The CAN President flayed opponents of the planned conference, saying it would address the serious issues confronting the country.
According to him, “Nigeria has come to a place; President Goodluck Jonathan has taken a bold step that will address all the issues about Nigeria. As CAN president, I want to congratulate the president for taking this step. We are prepared and set for it. So, we are setting up a special committee that will draft the presentation we will make an exciting time. It is a challenging time. No nation grows without challenges.”
“Sometimes, I get troubled about the way some people reason. A man has taken a bold step. So many people have been calling for a national conference. Suddenly, people are saying the timing is wrong.
“I remember some people then said that the president should dialogue with Boko Haram. We said no, but he went ahead and negotiated with criminals. Where we are now is very critical. We need to sit down and talk. Let everyone bring the card to the table. The fact that we can talk, we would have achieved something; this is an incredible opportunity for us to sit down and talk. The positive side outweighs the negative side.”
Pastor Oritsejafor condemned those saying the conference should have no-go areas, insisting that “everything should be brought to the table.”
“To be honest with you, I don’t know what anybody means with no go area. A dialogue is a dialogue. I really don’t understand. If we are going to sit down to talk, then we should do that. We should be free to discuss”, he said.
On the lingering strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, he said the association had taken steps to resolve it.
According to him, CAN had reached out to both ASUU and the Federal Government with a view to ending the industrial action which is in its fourth month.
“About ASUU, I’ve tried not to make any comment about the strike. I think Nigerians should know that we are not silent. We’ve made several attempts. I’ve had several phone conversations with ASUU president. I made a proposal for us to meet, but I didn’t hear much from him,” Mr Oritsejafor said.
“We’ve also approached the government and we told them the strike isn’t good for Nigeria. We told them something needed to be done to end this situation. We were promised that they were ready to shift ground. As I speak, we’ve not been able to meet ASUU.
“Let me say that I’m appealing as President of CAN to both government and ASUU to come back and sit down. We need to face this problem. In any situation where two parties cannot seem to agree, there must be movements from both sides. I heard government has moved the amount. For the sake of our children and this nation, they should find way to mend fences and find a way to come to an end.”