Underlying the subject of confederalism is that all ethnicities want fairness, people want to be able to determine how the resources that come out of their places are used. People want to have a voice on how they are governed. Proponents of the Sovereign National Conference, SNC argue that the UK, in spite of its being a very old democracy, did organise a national conference. For example, the Scottish Convention, which was a convention where the nationalities decided their future, likewise the the Welsh convention, and later, advocacy from Northern Ireland[i]. It is also argued that one of the most successful states in the world, Switzerland, is a confederation[ii].
The introduction of Sharia and the attendant bloody riots led to the renewed calls for confederation through a SNC by people who believe that those who are sticking to their guns on Sharia have confirmed complaints about Nigeria’s weak federation. The South-eastern governors had pushed the agitation for confederation to the forefront, when they met and ratified it. Imo and Ebonyi states Houses of Assembly also passed resolutions endorsing same. Nationalists like Enahoro, a distinguished recipient of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic, CFR has vociferously insisted that to move the nation forward, there is need for the restructuring of the polity, devolution of powers, revenue allocation based on derivation; and convocation of a SNC, which would once and for all address the nation’s multi-farious socio-economic and political problems[iii].
The logic of the proponents of a national conference is persuasive. It cannot be denied that Nigeria has become a deeply divided society. There is mutual suspicious and distrust. And fratricidal killings have now become more a norm than an anomaly. A lot of people think the only way Nigerians can live today as a nation again is to codify the terms that will govern the nation’s existence through a SNC. Of course, there are also quite a number of people outside government who think the conference is not only impracticable but that it will be futile. The main grouse of the Federal Government with the idea of a SNC is that an existing sovereign will be usurped and replaced with the tyranny of self-appointed ethnic champions[iv].
[i] TELL May 8, 2000
[ii] TELL April 10, 2000
[iii] TELL July 28, 2003
[iv] Insider July 5, 2004