The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. (Dr.) Matthew Hassan Kukah, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari against throwing the report of the National Conference in the dustbin, saying it contains some recommendations that could solve some national puzzles.
He also advised that the report be quietly given to relevant government agencies in order to find areas suitable for implementation.
The clergyman, who said this in a chat with Vanguard in Sokoto at the weekend, said though the confab was seen as former President Goodluck Jonthan’s weapon for political leverage, his successor would do well to ignore calls to jettison the report.
“Let us not deceive ourselves, Jonathan did his best. We are just caught in the bubble of exuberance and it is fashionable to distance oneself from the past administration.
“He did his best with what was available to him. And I think it will be totally irresponsible to suggest that the confab report should be thrown out of the window because Jonathan was believed to have had whatever motives. I was cynical about the confab itself. And I actually tried to write myself out of contention by the narratives I gave in the interviews I granted. And I made it clear that I was not available.
“But my argument at that time was that there is nothing new to talk about. You can’t keep compiling reports and be throwing them away. My argument was that Jonathan wanted a leeway and it was also part of the oxygen of legitimacy for him.
“But I did not believe that he would have the energy to carry through with the implementation. But as a tool for political bargaining, it was good for him and it made sense for the people of the South-West. But the issue of whether we are a federal system that have been canvassed by the South-West will not go away.
“Philosophically, we are not a federation because federating units agree on a federation. We are literally like products of an arranged marriage. We can’t be claiming to be practising true federalism now.
“The best we can do now is to make do with what we have. I don’t think the North, East or West are ready to concede any territory or any privilege. Most of these contestations are products of frustration. For me, it is not so much a question of whether the report made sense or not. It is important to appreciate the fact the report has some points which can be useful to the government.
“People think that Buhari will wake up one day and say that he is implementing the report of the confab. It does not work like that. Buhari may give that report to the relevant organs of government that can look at it for implementation. The offices can simply look at those things and policy changes will take place without you noticing.
“When we had the Oputa Panel, one of the most difficult challenges was the question of the Ogoni. We did our work, you can say that the report was not implemented. But when Obasanjo asked me to intervene in the conflict between the Ogoni and Shell, solution flowed out of that report.
“President Obasanjo did not announce to the world that it was the report of the panel that was implemented in tackling that problem. That was good. Governments don’t work by making noise. I believe that Buhari and some other people are clever enough to know that the confab report is not for the dustbin”, Rev. Kukah said.