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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

First Cut: Tony Nyiam Resigns From National Dialogue Committee



In a stunning development, Colonel
Tony Nyiam last Sunday abandoned
the Presidential Advisory Committee
on National Dialogue.
In a letter to President Goodluck
Jonathan dated November 3, he
explained that he had taken up the
appointment “with great enthusiasm
and dedication.”
But following “several meetings and
wide consultations with the
progressives, self-determination and
civil society movements and in
order not to [be] cast as a
distraction or be used as an excuse
to destabilize the noble cause” of
Mr. Jonathan, he said he had
decided to withdraw from the
committee.
He traced the background of his
decision to the incident in Benin City
last week in which Governor Adams
Oshiomhole was involved in two
incidents with the committee, in the
second of which he was booed at a
public event.
“What became troubling was the
Governor’s talking down on the
people gathered; amongst who were
former governors, senators, retired
armed forces generals and judges,”
Nyiam wrote. “What was equally
disturbing was the Governor’s
insensitiveness to the ethno-
nationalities yearning for self-
determination,” adding that they
expressed their feelings by openly
boo-ing the Governor.
“Noticing the increasing protests
against the Governor, I stood up and
walked to the chairman, to remind
him of the need to moderate, to
remind the Governor that he has
gone well over the time allowed for
a speaker. I went back to my seat,
which was on the other, far side of
where the Chief Executive of Edo
State was speaking from.”
While the letter does not specifically
say why he has chosen to abandon
the work of the committee, he
apologized to whoever may have
been disappointed by his over-
reaction to the provocation,
presumably the Benin City incident.
The concession suggests he may
have been forced out of the
committee.
“I will be leaving the Committee
believing that equity fairness and
justice will continue to be guiding
principles of its deliberations,” he
said.
Full text of the letter:
Presidential Advisory Committee
On National Dialogue,
International Conference Centre,
Abuja.
3rd November 2013
To: The President and C-in-C
State House, Aso Villa,
Abuja.
Through: The Secretary To
The Federal Government of
Nigeria,
Your Excellency,
Resignation From The Presidential
Advisory Committee
I would like to thank the President
and Commander-in-Chief of our
evolving Federation, His Excellency
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
GRFR, for giving me the opportunity
to serve my mother land as a
member of the Presidential Advisory
Committee on National Dialogue.
When Mr. President, just like Nehru
of India changed his mind about the
desirability of a National Conference
and announced on Independence
Day that there will be a National
Dialogue, I knew that a new dawn is
around the corner.
Some of us have all our
lives been fighting for the
oppressed people of our mother
land, and to be given an opportunity
to use dialogue to resolve our
myriads of problems was too good
a moment to be ignored. I took up
the appointment with great
enthusiasm and dedication, working
as hard as my colleagues, to give
our very best to our country.
After several meetings and wide
consultations with the progressives,
self-determination and civil society
movements and in order not to cast
as a distraction or be used as an
excuse to destabilize the noble
cause the President has put before
us, I Col. Tony Nyiam rtd has
decided to withdraw from the
Presidential Advisory Committee on
National Dialogue. I will from now
on, work with colleagues from
outside, using all peaceful and
democratic means to bring our
many decades of aspirations to
fruition.
Mr. President, I will like to put the
Benin event in its proper perspective
so that evil propagandists bent on
derailing the dialogue train will not
continue to fabricate falsehood to
confound Nigerians so as to achieve
their devilish intentions.
It all started in the Benin
consultations with us being made to
be twice late for important
appointments. First, we were made
to be over an hour late to the 12-
noon appointment we had the
privilege of getting at short notice,
from the palace of one of Africa’s
most reputable monarchs, the
revered Oba of Benin.
Secondly, we were made to keep
critical South- South stakeholders,
and other people’s representatives,
waiting for over three hours. The
two occasions of lateness to
important appointments which are
against the ethos of our duty, were
caused by the twice, and sudden,
shifting of the time we had earlier
agreed to pay courtesy call to the
Executive Governor of Edo State, His
Excellency, Comrade Adams
Oshiomohle.
Firstly, a few minutes to our 10 am
meeting with His Excellency,
Governor Oshiomohle moved the
appointment to 11:00 am. Secondly,
another few minutes to the newly
agreed time of 11 am, the Comrade
Governor shifted the appointment to
coincide with the 12 noon
appointment we already have with
the one and only, Oba of the
historical Benin Kingdom. The two
unilaterally changes of appointment
times by the Governor, left us
wondering what His Excellency was
up to.
When eventually granted audience,
the Comrade Governor proceeded to
give us a background on why he is
vehemently opposed to the initiative
of any leader daring to convene a
National Conference. The
background story was essentially a
lecture on how the Governor of Edo
State was, ironically, more a
Kaduna- made man than an Edo
indigene.
This was followed by a tutorial on
how we were deluded to see
anything of significance in the
opportunity Nigerians are being
given to dialogue amongst
themselves. One instance of the
Governor only knows, is his self
opinionated, and sarcastic question:
who initiates a process towards a
meeting without a pre-conceived
agenda?
To all his great oratory we (all
members of the Committee) listened
to quietly. As it is the democratic
right of Governor Oshiomohle to
speak to us. Like the late dictator,
Mamman Gaddafi use to tutor for
hours, his cowed Libyan subjects we
respectfully listened to him. After
over forty minutes of the Comrade
Governors’ exercise of his human
right we left the Governor’s office.
We paid homage to the Oba of
Benin who with grace and above all
love received us after the
Committee’s chairman apologized
for our coming over an hour from
what was earlier agreed. We left the
Great Edo Palace with the Oba’s
commendation and prayers for the
initiator of a pre-national
conference committee, such as ours.
We got to the venue of consultations
with the people to find over a
thousand people eagerly waiting. We
then began taking submissions.
Most of the submissions, contrary
to Governor Oshiomohle’s opinion
came from ethnic nationalities.
Later on, the Governor walked in
and ran up dramatically to take his
seat at the high table.
After listening to statesmen and
eminent leaders of the Itsekiri,
Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw, Benin and
Anioma nations making their
enlightening presentations, the
Governor indicated his interest to
comment before departing. Rather
than a few minutes’ remarks, the
Governor went on, and on, repeating
the lecture we had previously
listened to, for about an hour in his
office.
What became troubling was the
Governor’s talking down on the
people gathered; amongst who were
former governors, senators, retired
armed forces generals and judges.
What was equally disturbing was the
Governor’s insensitiveness to the
ethno-nationalities yearning for self-
determination. This they expressed
by their beginning to openly boo-ing
the Governor.
Noticing the increasing protests
against the Governor, I stood up and
walked to the chairman, to remind
him of the need to moderate, to
remind the Governor that he has
gone well over the time allowed for
a speaker. I went back to my seat,
which was on the other, far side of
where the Chief Executive of Edo
State was speaking from.
The provocation from Governor
Oshiomohle’s derogatory
insinuations, and the casting of
aspersions on eminent personalities
such as were gathered before him,
was just too much. Lest we forget,
the Comrade Governor openly
declared that he was not speaking
as a Governor or on behalf of the
Edo people. Thus he needed to be
reminded that he cannot, in his
personal capacity, usurp the
people’s opportunity to express their
feelings by themselves.
Some of our leaders need to know
that they cannot continue to use the
garb to obfuscate and confuse
citizens and presenting as
patriotism their personal agenda.
An auspicious time will come, when
the obfuscation will unravel and
Nigerians will come to know the
true character of some of these
leaders.
However, my sincere apologies to
whoever may have been
disappointed by my over reaction to
the provocation.
I will be leaving the Committee
believing that equity fairness and
justice will continue to be guiding
principles of its deliberations.
Like all Nigerians, I look forward to
the report and will continue to
believe that a better and greater
Nigeria is possible.
May God bless our evolving Nigeria
and its great people.
With highest regards,
Col. Tony Nyiam rtd

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