Nigerian Scholars for Dialogue
The Association of Nigerian Scholars for Dialogue was founded by a group of expatriate Nigerian scholars based in North America for the primary purpose of initiating conversations on the critical issues of governance facing their homeland. Following the failures of programs of so-called transition-to-democracy and the increasing stridency of military rule in Nigeria, an exodus of intellectuals from Nigerian universities began in the late 1980s. It has grown considerably as the universities face appalling standards due to neglect. Other groups of Nigerians, including politicians and journalists, have also fled the country. In addition to such flight of important professionals, political tensions have risen in many communities in Nigeria. In the face of all these elements of chaos, the Nigerian Military Government and its enemies have traded in accusations of blame in ways that do not permit compromises and negotiations. The Association of Nigerian Scholars for Dialogue has been founded to bring about some dialogue and intellectual order to this distressing situation.
The Association of Nigerian Scholars for Dialogue has as its central mission the promotion of dialogue among Nigerians as the preferred way of finding solutions to national problems. It does so by designing a methodology of dialogues among contending ethnic and religious groups in which they are encouraged to discover and highlight their common grounds, rather than indulge in elaborating and exaggerating their differences. It also encourages dialogue between the military and the Nigerian people, seeking in the process to heal the gaping alienation between the military establishment and the civil population. The Association notes the unfortunate fact that in Nigerian history, governments have fomented many of the communal crises in which ethnic and religious groups have been joined. It looks for ways of barring government functionaries from so doing in the future.
The Association of Nigerian Scholars for Dialogue has embarked on two related projects that it believes will help to bring civil order back to Nigeria. They are organized around the subject matter of return to full-fledged federalism and to constitutional rule both of which have been threatened by military rule. The Association published a report of its proceedings as Wilberforce Conference on Nigerian Federalism in 1997. Members of the Association also held a workshop on Nigerian constitutional processes in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, in January 1998. These projects will enable members of the Association of Nigerian Scholars for Dialogue to discuss important issues on the governance of Nigeria.
The Association's ultimate goal is to ensure that there will be a
landing from military rule. Without a meaningful federal system and a
constitutional foundation, transition to civil rule will be
and will inevitably induce another military putsch by some fragment of
the armed forces waiting in the wings for mistakes by civilian
Nor should any programs of the so-called transition-to-democracy in
be judged solely on the basis of orchestrated elections which the
community is invited to validate. The Association of Nigerian Scholars
for Dialogue believes that preparation for any valid elections must
with the construction of a cogent constitutional order.