By Aaron Ossai
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has called on the Federal Government to reconsider its stance on the report of the 2014 National Conference.
Ekweremadu said the implementation of the report was a vital starting point towards quelling the agitations in the land and moving Nigeria forward.
He spoke in Abuja on Tuesday at the 2017 Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) conference themed “Myths and Reality of Agitations: The Place of Consensus Building” and organised by the Institute of Chartered Mediators.
Ekweremadu said: “As a nation, we have to tell ourselves the hard truth. Nigeria, as currently constituted, is certainly not working well.
“Nigerians are also not only dangerously split along ethnic, religious, and sectional lines, the gap keeps widening by the day. I believe that the 2014 National Conference Report is a vital starting point for us.
“It is, therefore, rather unfortunate that several months after the Senate requested Mr. President to transmit the Report to the National Assembly for legislative actions, nothing has happened.
“We only read a recent statement credited to the presidency to the effect that it has no confidence in the confab report.
“I do not believe, in good conscience, that a report produced by the cream of all spheres and units of the Nigerian society is worthless.
“Does the present government intend to set in motion a process to convoke another conference, which outcome it can trust? That will be a waste of time and resources.
“We cannot continue to play the ostrich while our world appears to sink”, he stressed.
The Senator advised that agitations in the country should not be assessed from ethnic, religious, political, and sectional standpoint because “he who wears the shoe knows where it hurts”.
He said: “A people may never be interested in peace and nation building when they feel that the country perennially hands them the short end of the stick; that they have been oppressed, robbed, and deprived of their fair shares of resources, opportunities, and security of their lives and properties.
“That is why we have to act fast to address complaints about injustice and inequity, whether we feel they are real or a myth”.
Ekweremadu also enjoined Nigerians to embrace dialogue and ADR in settling disputes.
He said: “Litigation will always produce a winner and a loser. And often, a party may win a case without winning the peace, which is in itself the core essence of justice.
“But, a healthy, mediated, conciliatory, and good faith communication or dialogue stands a greater chance of yielding both justice and peace because it ultimately produces a win-win situation”.
While assuring that the National Assembly was already working on a Bill, which he sponsored, to strengthen ADR, he called on the government to build ADR into the nation’s judicial system and the training and work of the law enforcement agencies to reduce the burden on the courts and prisons.