Nigeria’s former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, has recalled how the recommendations contained in the report of the 2014 National Conference were not implemented when submitted by the committee.
Akinyemi who spoke at the 9th annual lecture of the Foursquare Gospel Church held last Friday said he tried all he could to make former President Goodluck Jonathan sign the document but all to no avail.
He also recalled how he was invited to convince the former president of the need to convene the national conference.
He said, “Oronto Douglas called me one day and said we need to see. I said for what? And he said, “You need to come and talk to Oga, he is afraid that if he summons the National Conference, there would be a ‘walk out’ and it will fail. So, I want you to come and talk to him so that it will work and won’t fail.
“So, I went and we met. We started to talk about the protocol things, and I said, ‘Sir, this issue of the National Conference, and he said, ‘No, no, I don’t want to hear about it, don’t go there.’ And I told him that was why I visited. And he said If that was the reason why I visited then the conversation ends there. So, I got up and he walked me to the door and opened it.
“As I was about to go out, he said, ‘Do you think it will work?’ and I replied, ‘that what will work?’ and he said, ‘but you came here to talk about the National Conference’. I said but you did not want to hear about it. So, he asked me to sit down and that was how the conversation started. So, I prepared a blueprint and showed him.”
Akinyemi also revealed how the then-ruling Peoples Democratic Party almost hijacked the process.
He said, “The party got to know that something was being planned, and they accused him of not involving them. They said it won’t work and Jonathan said, ‘I have made up my mind’. They insisted that Jonathan should give it to the party to run but Jonathan didn’t oblige. After then, Okonjo Iweala said, there was no money for the budget. He then told Okonjo Iweala, ‘You find the money or you find yourself a new job.’”
“But when he then lost courage, we divided the result into three quadrants; one of which needed executive approval. And all he needed was to sign it, but he didn’t. I then met him and asked him to implement his own part, and he said, ‘Oh, I am coming back to the office. When we get in, we will do so.
“And I said, ‘Sir, you’re not God. It’s only God who decides who sits on that chair. He only took it to the National Assembly when he lost the election. And of course, the National Assembly would not sign a document by a president who had lost an election. So, that was what happened. At least you should have done your part and leave the rest to Buhari to decide.’”