Tony Nyiam, Adams Oshiomhole and national conversation

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One of the main talking points of the week was the attitude of  a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue, Tony Nyiam, to Governor Adams Oshiomhole at the Benin public hearing organised by the committee.

Nyiam was said to have been forced to resign from the committee by other members, after he “had shouted down the Governor while making his contribution”, according to VANGUARD of Tuesday, October 29, 2013. The paper said further that: “While the Governor was still making his speech…

Nyiam stood up and shouted him down…He was restrained by other members who were taken aback by his action”. Oshiomhole’s ‘crime’ with Nyiam at the event, was not to have riden piggy-backed, on his delusions about the proposed conference. A generation of Southern Nigerian activists, expired old men and sundry rabble rousers have lived on and swore by SNC as the panacea to all problems bedeviling Nigeria.

The failed coup plotter also made an effort to link the anarchic, failed coup he participated in, which announced the excision of some states from Nigeria, as part of the wider issues of the National Question. He was given celebrity status amongst media, intellectual and activist circles of the South.

It came as no surprise therefore, that he was named member of Goodluck Jonathan’s national conversation committee. That he would heckle Governor Oshiomhole did not also surprise me.

These gentlemen pretend to represent an alternative vision for Nigerian development, yet they are puny tyrants and undemocratic demagogues, stripped of subterfuge! Oshiomhole ticked the right boxes by interrogating the perpetual fascination with conferences, when they have not been substantially productive in the past.

He wondered why 100 years after amalgamation and over 50 years after independence, old men in their eighties, who took every privilege from Nigeria while young, now turn round to attempt to delegitimize our country! Adams puts it most brilliantly: “I think Nigeria needs to address very serious issues.

When I see eminent Nigerians discussing this issue, I am sure they know that Nigeria’s problem is not the politics of sharing which the national dialogue is all about, who is getting what, who has this natural endowment, who should do this or not do this. For me this is the act of perfecting poverty. The real challenge is getting Nigeria back to production. The real challenge is creating industrial base…”.

Oshiomhole’s perspective fits the frame of the Nigerian working people and the overwhelming population of Nigeria which is under the age of 35. They need education, skills and jobs. They are all over Nigeria, whether in the creeks of the Niger Delta or the semi-arid regions of Northern Nigeria. There are no ethnic (or tribal) contradictions between these young, and often desperately poor, citizens. They are not represented by the ethnic/tribal fixations of eighty-something year old Professor Nwabueze or the outbursts of Tony Nyiam!.

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