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LAGOS, NIGERIA.     Monday, May 24 2004






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Enahoro, Soyinka, others may convene national confab
By Idowu Ajanaku

FOR elder statesman Chief Anthony Enahoro and other pro-democracy activists, the long wait for a Federal Government-initiated National Conference may be over. The activists under the aegis of the Nigerians United for Democracy (NUD), at the weekend, resolved to hold the parley without the government.

Indications that the activists were determined to forge ahead emerged after a meeting chaired by Enahoro and attended by prominent politicians and members of the NUD in Lagos.

In the Enahoro-led group are eminent politicians like Chief Olu Falae, Chief Supo Shonibare, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Chief Chekwas Okorie, among others.

The group has decided to invite the leadership of the Citizens Forum (CF) headed by Professor Wole Soyinka, organised Labour, ethnic nationalities, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and some legal luminaries to submit proposals on the planned conference. Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), Femi Falana, and Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti are expected to make input.

The Guardian learnt that the group, which will meet on Friday, is planning to call on other Nigerians to forward their contributions to the association on the conference.

The group, it was learnt might have decided to go ahead with the conference following the lingering political crisis in the country.

It was gathered that the conveners of the conference reasoned that without the parley, the country would continue to experience instability.

The Citizens' Forum last week canvassed a National Conference to resolve the lingering political problems in the country.

Confirming the invitation of Soyinka and other activists, Shonibare, the deputy leader of Afenifere, said in Lagos that the group decided to invite them in order to fashion a blue print for the take off of the conference.

According to him, the NUD agreed that Nigerians have got to a stage where they have to carry their destinies in their own hands.

"Everybody across the geo-political zone wants a National Conference. It is only President Olusegun Obasanjo and those who are exploiting the people through the system that are opposed to the conference. However, we are determined to go ahead. Although, it is not easy, but we must start from somewhere," he said.

Shonibare said that if participatory democracy is working in countries like Benin Republic and Ghana, he does not see why it should not work in Nigeria. He reckoned that the existing political structure in the country, coupled with the defective constitution provided a leeway for Obasanjo to lean towards a civilian dictatorship.

"We said we do not want military dictatorship, but what we have now is a civilian dictatorship, which is worse. The President can hide under the constitution and that is exactly what is going on in the country today."


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