NewsInvestigators learnt that the problem started when Oshiomhole, an All Progressive Congress APC governor re-echoed the position of his national leader Mr. Bola Tinubu that the proposed national dialogue was a waste of time and resources.
No sooner Oshiomhole started raising his objection than a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee, Col Tony Nyiam (rtd) rose in anger and shouted down the Governor.
The Governor who took the stage to make his contribution shortly after the Isoko Ethnic group had concluded with their presentation said he objected to spending huge public funds on what he called ‘a wasteful venture’ saying, similar conference in the past has yielded nothing.
The thugs believed to have been imported from neighbouring states heckled the Governor as soon as they realized that his contributions would be different from the perceived opinion.
“I will be surprised if anything change. Sincerely, I have no business to deceive or mislead anyone. I believe that the outcome of this conference will be different from that of other conferences we have had in the past.”
But as soon as Oshiomhole made this statement, Nyiam was said to have jumped on his feet and charged towards the Governor before he was restrained by other members who were taken aback by his action.
While the Governor was still making his contribution, Nyiam started screaming at the top of his voice telling the governor to shut up and sit down. He was then joined in by the PDP thugs who disrupted the whole proceedings and many scampered for safety as a result of the unruliness of the committee member and thugs.
The Governor who insisted on concluding his remarks however yielded the floor when the thugs were getting violent.
However, the Governor had, at a courtesy visit to him in his office by members of the Committee led by Senator Femi Okurounmu, said he had no faith in the whole process.
Oshiomhole said “all I owe Nigeria now is to speak my mind. It could be error of my head but certainly not of my heart. As much as I wish you well, I just want to say that I have no faith in this process and I do not think it was necessary at all”.
The Governor said “I am unable to find any basis to give me some illusion that this exercise will not be different from the others. And I honestly think that in terms of the private sector, when a country keeps debating how we can live together that cannot be one of the basis on which the outside community will invest in Nigeria. They may well wait until we know how we want to live in Nigeria”.
He lamented that fifty-three years after independence, Nigerians still prefer to look at themselves from their ethnic origin rather than being Nigerians, saying, “for me, I am just a Nigerian”.
“I do not think that more than hundred years when we have set aside billions of naira to celebrate centenary celebrating the fact of our amalgamation of the North and Southern Nigeria, and we have lived together as one country for over a hundred years, and we have gone through independence, we have been free for fifty three years and we are coming back to ask the question, how could we be there.
“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 this 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 and this cannot be resolved through conferences. We have moved from parliamentary system in our own wisdom to the presidential system. We have test-run it and it was aborted by the military and it has re-incarnated in the present form” he said.
“Nigeria does need a serious reflection about how to return to those core values that made Nigeria work before. Those healthy competition between the governments, visit the whole question of attitude and unless that changes, I do not see how any dialogue can work”, he said.
The Governor noted “I was discussing with somebody last week and he noted that this is the eleventh conference and I ask what ten conferences could not do, how would the eleventh one do it? Why do we think we can continue doing the same thing the same old way and think that this time the outcome would be different?.
The Governor said nobody convenes a meeting without stating an agenda and asking others to draw up an agenda for that meeting adding “from conception we know we want to talk but we do not know what we want to talk about.”
Earlier the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue/Conference, Senator Femi Okurounmu said they were in Benin as part of their to the six geo political zones to get their input as regards the content of the agenda, the duration, choice of delegation and legal framework.