President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday promised that the proposed National Conference will be conducted transparently and the “will of Nigerians” will determine the final outcome of the process.
Mr. Jonathan, who received the 4,000-page report of the Dr. Femi Okunrounmu-led Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, shortly before the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, said the discussion process is for the benefit of the entire nation.
Denying allegations that his sudden conversion to the convocation of a national conference was to achieve a sinister agenda, the President said that every Nigerian, whether as individual or as a group, has an important role to play to ensure its success.
“This discussion process is for the benefit of the entire nation, every Nigerian individual or as a group has an important role to play to ensure its success”, he said.
Mr. Jonathan noted that the committee was created to advise government on a framework for Nigerians to review and discuss and proffer sustainable way forward as a nation following issues that have challenged the unity of the nation in the last few decades.
The outcome of the conference, according to him, will add value to the process of building a stronger, united, more democratic and stable Nigeria.
Mr. Jonathan said: “You have done the job very well; you have shown commitment and love for your country as good citizens of this great country. So all Nigerians owe you that appreciation and I believe that the world is watching us. Whatever we will do, we will be very very transparent. And let me also repeat myself again that I have no personal interest in this dialogue or conversation or the conference. I will allow the will of Nigerians to prevail.
“I believe that by the time we conclude this conference, there will be fewer open letters that Nigerians will read. I have already directed the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala] to make adequate financial provisions so that this conference will take off immediately we enter next year”.
Reiterating government’s resolve to partner with all stakeholders to convene the dialogue, he said: “Our democracy is still young and for us to provide life’s abundance for our people and play a noble role in world affairs, we must nurture and cultivate correct democratic values. The proposed dialogue offers this unique opportunity for us to deepen our democracy and strengthen our nation, rather than to destroy or weaken our union”.
He added: “Nation-building, always comes with challenges defined by the prevailing political, economic, social and cultural mood of the people. We cannot ignore such challenges; rather we must realistically address them”.