A member of the National Economic Management Team, Atedo Peterside, has called upon his co-delegates to the forthcoming National Conference, to ensure that the exercise does not amount to a waste of time.
He said such a platform for dialogue had become necessary at a time like this when “our National Assembly is almost solely pre-occupied with annual budgetary matters, fighting over how to slice a cake.”
Peterside, the Chairman, Stanbic IBTC Bank, expressed this in a statement made available to our correspondent on Friday.
“There are only 24 hours in a day. If the National Assembly is pre-occupied 24/7 with the Budget and fighting over allocations to ministries, what time is left for the serious business of helping to bake a bigger cake?” he said.
According to Peterside, while the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who also doubles as co-Chairman of the National Assembly Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, may “probably be a patriot”, he said it had become apparent, that “Nigerians know that the distinguished Senator is not the right messenger because he is one of 500 federal legislators who each pay themselves more than President Obama.”
He accused the members of the National Assembly of deliberately conspiring to avoid disclosing exactly how much they each collect from the federal treasury.
The implication, according to him, is that having a National Conference to discuss pertinent issues regarding the governance of the country, has become necessary.
He said, “If the National polity is dysfunctional, it is because the National Assembly is an integral part of the problem. They have constrained themselves voluntarily and so, through a perceived combination of self-censorship and individual greed, the nation no longer expects progress on any serious piece of draft legislation, much less an altruistic constitutional amendment from them.
“We have gravitated towards a two-party system that should ordinarily strengthen democracy. In our case, however, it promises only increased polarisation, as the same actors/characters now swing between both parties like a pendulum while instigating a stalemate/deadlock on all those items that can speedily improve the lives of ordinary Nigerians.”
The polarization, he pointed out, had created a vacuum that needed to be filled by the Justice Idris Kutigi-led National Conference, urging the delegates not to be wearied by all manners of misguided ‘intellectuals’ scrutinising the list of delegates.
The eminent banker said, “Many of them want the status quo to remain because it suits them and their paymasters.”
Peterside urged his co-delegates to see their participation in the National Conference as a rare opportunity to champion the ‘justifiable’ causes of Nigerians.
He said, “I plead that we leave no stone unturned in a bid to disprove all the cynics.
“Our work will gain even wider acceptance if, together, we insist that we will also champion the justifiable causes of the unrepresented, the downtrodden and unrepresented, be they traditional worshippers, stockbrokers, ethnic nationalities or the youths.”