President Goodluck Jonathan plans a three-month dialog on Nigerian unity in Abuja on 10 Mar 2014 -- or as soon as soon as all 492 delegates have been selected from the country's political parties and myriad ethno-linguistic groups.
The effort to buttress the country's precarious unity depends in part on agreeing on reforms that result in more equitable power-sharing and resource allocation.
The meeting comes at a critical time for the major oil producer.
Some Nigerians regard as expired a century-old unification agreement forged by British colonial administrator F.D. Lugard, which united the mainly Muslim north and mainly Christian south. Other stressors on unity include an insurgency by Boko Haram Islamists in the north has the country and pending presidential and parliamentary election.
Coups in 1966 and 1999 -- with the Biafran civil war of 1967 between -- remind the government of the perils of a National Conference that doesn't result in tension-mitigating reforms.
Date written/update: 2014-03-05