Friday, 12 October 2012

President Jonathan Meets Southern Political Leaders For 3 Hours; Unity Between Northern And Southern Nigeria Top On Agenda Of Talks

President Goodluck Jonathan late on Thursday night met, for over 3 hours,with Southern leaders of political thought at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to discuss strengthening the union between the Northern and Southern parts of the country

The leaders under the auspices of the Southern Nigerian Peoples Assembly are the latest group over the last few weeks that the President has engaged in similar nocturnal meetings

And so the nocturnal meetings continue aimed at ending the crisis in the Nigerian society brought about largely by discontent with the state of the union in the country

Though the spate of violence has been largely played out in Northern Nigeria, the grouse of Southern leaders has been that the targets have been primarily Northern Christians and Southerners 

But these Southern leaders who claim to represent the 17 Southern States are pledging their loyalty to the Jonathan administration and their faith in Nigeria's unity

Prominent Southern leader Edwin Clark says the Southern States are prepared to dialogue with their brothers and counterparts from the North to ensure that going forward these acts against the Nigerian nation cease

But somewhere hidden in all this rhetoric is the often used refrain for a National Conference in which the 250 ethnic Nationalities negotiate the basis of their union around a round table

Chief Clark argues that the National Assembly cannot go it alone in crafting a constitution that will be agreeable to all constituent parts of the union

But what about the past National Conferences that have been organized in the country in the past?

The Southern leader says none of them have passed the litmus test, pointing out that the last one in 2005 was hijacked by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to feed his third term agenda, while others have been undemocratic creations of the Military

Those in the Opposition argue that these meetings are aimed at feathering the President's ambition to return for a second term come 2015

But there is no concrete evidence to support these claims and President Jonathan has said severally that it is too early to start politicking towards 2015

The worry is that this group which claims to have the mandate of the South does not have any political office holder in its ranks 

And while they may have some influence on public opinion, there is a limit to which they can negotiate the real terms of engagement given the exigency of power

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