By Joseph Edgar… I grew up with the engagements at the Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) when Professor Bolaji Akinyemi held sway at the place. It used to be a platform for the intellectual fusing of policy makers and policy creators. Nigeria’s foreign policy used to emanate from such deep interactions. Seminars and dialogues at the institute usually gave watchers a sense as to the direction the government would be going regarding its foreign policy.
Such fora created people like Ibrahim Babangida who as a young but very ambitious officer used to attend all the key sessions preparing himself for the task ahead. He used to also test his knowledge of foreign policy by also presenting papers at the venue and opening himself to invasive probes by the egg heads who usually made up the audience and faculty. There he sold himself to the intelligentsia, no wonder he populated his administration with such egg heads as cabinet members. The forum is today gone with the winds.
Another worthy platform is that usually organized annually by the Nigerian Economic summit group (NESG). This is a robust and very influential gathering of business leaders and government representatives who put their heads together to, amongst other, try to define government position on the economy and budgets.
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Another session which has won my interest is the platform surprisingly championed by a gentleman clergy, Pator Poju Oyemade. Fallout of the sessions usually reverberate and get the society talking for days thereafter.
You may want to ask what have we as Nigerians gained from all these talks. Critics have been known to correctly state that all these talks are just that, talk. We still wallow in the wilderness of ignorance, ethnic divided, mass poverty and also permeated with the dearth of cohesive unity.
So do we stop talking to each other? The answer is a resounding NO. We must continue to dialogue and exchange ideas for this communication will eventually bear the fruit of our salvation. Can you imagine where there were no discussions or talks between the contending forces within our polity, then the calamity we think we are facing now will remain child’s play.
Dialogue must continue, it must remain effusive, unfettered and involving of all divisions and groupings that make up the Nigerian project. While these talks continue we will slowly and gradually gain the cohesion that has eluded us.
We must also involve our traditional seats. They are closer to the grassroots and have access to policy makers. They can build bridges of two way information, seeking clarity and understanding. They must rise up to the occasion and be the real fathers that their bloodlines have set them up for.
Let the talks continue.
Ripples Nigeria…without borders, without fears