iBlogTV: Northern, Southern Leaders Reject Calls For Another CONFAB

Northern, Southern Leaders Reject Calls For Another CONFAB

Dec 10, 2020

Northern, Southern Leaders Reject Calls For Another CONFAB

Amid contentions on the best workable constitution that can practically address the plethora of challenges being faced by the nation, leaders across the country have rejected calls for the convening of a fresh constitutional conference, noting that it would be a waste of time.

The leaders from the northern and southern parts of the country insisted that the country should adopt and implement existing reports from previous constitutional and political conferences.

While dismissing as erroneous the notion that past conferences failed to address the nation’s challenges, they stressed that lack of patriotic and sincere leadership has remained the bane of non-implementation of the reports.

The position of the leaders is coming against the backdrop of recent calls for a fresh national conference just as the National Assembly embarked on the process of constitution amendment.

Following series of agitations, several political and constitutional conferences have been held in Nigeria since 1999 with the 2014 national conference being the last exercise.

Although the All Progressives Congress (APC) Committee on Restructuring had also made recommendations, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has kicked against its use in the constitution amendment process.

Reacting to calls for a fresh national conference, the apex socio-cultural body in the North, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), said there is no need for such an exercise.

The ACF stressed that what Nigeria needs is patriotic and sincere leadership, stressing that the country would be a better place if all previous recommendations were implemented.

National publicity secretary of ACF, Mr Emmanuel Yaweh, told LEADERSHIP that if government is serious in implementing all the resolutions in previous Conferences, Nigeria can be a better place.

He added that Nigeria needs good leadership and not legions of national conferences as being canvased for by some interest groups.

Yaweh said, “The question we should be asking ourselves how many national conferences or confabs are we going to hold for Nigeria’s problems to be solved? It is not endless national conferences that will solve the problems. The question we are asking is what do we really want in this country?

“Some people are calling for breakup of the country; others are calling for all kinds of things. But the basic question should be, do we really want this country? It is not to call national conferences, spend money and at the end, we end up with the same problems.

“Our position is that people should be patriotic to the country, not holding national conferences and taking resolutions that will not take us anywhere”.

However, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) while not differing significantly with ACF’s position said while there can’t be an overdose of national conferences or dialogue as citizens would need to continue to have discussions, the recommendations from the 2014 national conference can resolve many of the difficulties facing the country.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt, national publicity secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, blamed past and present administrations for lacking the sincerity and political will to implement the outcomes and recommendations of the past national conferences.

He said, “As a nation, we would need to continue to have discussions and conversations. First, among the various ethnic nationalities and regions of the country and secondly but most importantly between the government and the citizens, there can be no “overdose” of national conferences or dialogue.

“The notion that past conferences have failed to address the nation’s challenges is erroneous. The problem has always been the lack of sincerity and political will on the part of successive governments and administrations to implement the outcomes and recommendations of the various national conferences.

“For instance, the 2014 national conference, which was the 17th in the nation’s history, made extensive recommendations that could resolve many of the difficulties facing the country but this administration has refused to give any consideration to those recommendations.”

On his part, leader of Gbo Kabaari, an Ogoni Elders’ Forum, Senator Bennett Birabi, said the 2014 national conference report is enough to reborn the country.

Birabi said, “As a nation we have not made progress, not for lack of knowledge but for the lack of the main ingredients of human and societal development- character. The 2014 constitutional conference report is enough to reborn this country but who has the courage to implement it?”

Similarly, the spokesman of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chuks Ibegbu, insisted that Nigeria does not need another confab.

He noted that the 2014 confab report contains more than 600 resolutions capable of addressing all the challenges facing the country.

He stressed that the 2014 Confab resolution has all it takes to rebuild Nigeria. “We don’t need another Confab; the 2014 Confab contains resolutions to rebuild our nation. There are more than 600 resolutions. It will address everything” Ibegbu told LEADERSHIP.

Also, national president of Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), Comrade Igboayaka Igboayaka, stressed that the nation has enunciated enough conferences without implementation.

According to him, what is important for now is how to implement the laudable recommendations from conferences held in the past.

Igboaya submitted that the nation is good at bringing up policies and suggestions on the way forward, but lack the will to turn same into practical reality.

He advised political leadership at all levels to display courage and the will power to act decisively on issues bordering on the unity of the nation.

His words: “We should make adequate use the recommendations put together by eminent citizens from all the geo-political zones in 2014 and all the solutions put forward in the past on the way forward.”

Speaking also to LEADERSHIP, an Ohaneze Ndigbo leader in Umuahia, Abia state, Nduka Uwakwe, said the problem with the country has never been with the constitution, but the implementation of the letters, blaming the various agitations on “the divide and rule system prevalent in every strata of the society.”

Also, a 75-year old Nigeria Civil War veteran Jimmy Aluma, said, “Any arrangement that will address all the inequalities and imperfections in the country should be embraced.”

Meanwhile, a dissenting voice in the South East, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide (OYC) has advocated for convocation of a national confab in 2022 to serve as a referendum that would strengthen the collective existence of Nigeria to ensure the unity of the country and also deepen the country’s democracy.

The president general of OYC, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said that the 2022 Confab would avail all the ethnic nationalities, groups and all stakeholders the opportunity to review the country’s collective interests and provide a comprehensive solutions through review of costs of governance.

According to him, “the 2022 Confab should focus on financial autonomy of local government areas, resource control, state police, return to regional government, with constitutional backing and constitutional authority for traditional Rulers”.

In the same vein, the national publicity secretary, North South Progressive Movement of Nigeria (NOSOP), Ambassador Oke Idawane, said another constitutional conference is needless. He however urged the APC-led federal government to adopt the 2014 National Confab recommendations.

He said, “The 2014 Confab is the only way out for myriad of challenges confronting the nation presently. For me, I advise President Buhari’s government to be humble and embrace the Jonathan Confab. Again, key recommendations like true Federalism should be adopted and I tell you Nigeria challenges will be over.

“Restructuring should not be centered on oil resources. I tell you, there is no states in the Federation that doesn’t have one form of resources or the other. When we restructure and states are giving power to manage their resources it will compel all to be hardworking.

“All the corruption, insecurity will gradually fizzle out because if you don’t work, you won’t have money, and if you don’t secure your state, investors will not come and there will be crime in your state.”

Speaking on the issue, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere also said several national conferences had been held in the past, with little or none of their resolutions adopted to address the problems; hence there won’t be any need to have another one.

The publicity secretary of the group in Ekiti State, Chief Biodun Akin-Fasae, told LEADERSHIP in Ado Ekiti that there is the need for the government to revisit and make do with available documents.

Akin-Fasae said, “Let us encourage government to look through all the documents they have and come out with a workable solution to the problems confronting the nation.

“All we are looking for are the documents. It will be time and resource wasting to set up any conference now under any guise. However, some of us know there can’t be any system that will be an eldorado or a utopia”.

He noted that the national caucus of Afenifere met online to deliberate on whether or not there was need for a constitutional conference, adding that at the meeting presided over by the leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, part of the resolutions observed that the exercise has become a ritual every four years without tangible progress.

”It would be sad if the country is being taken through another motion without movement in the midst of its constitutional disorder, We therefore recommend the reports of the 2014 National Conference and other profound positions on restructuring as a basis of a meaningful new constitutional order for Nigeria.

”The mainly pro-federal reports have enough provisions to take Nigeria out of its present crisis.”

Similarly, the North Central People’s Forum (NCPF) said there was no need for another Confab or constitutional amendment.

National publicity secretary of NCPF, Audi Sume, argued that the documents from 2014 national confab should be dusted, reviewed and put to use so that it can take care of the interests of all Nigerians.

He said, “We have the outcome of the last Confab held by past administration. We are of the opinion that the document be revisited and used, because it contains what Nigerians want.

“Conducting another constitutional conference is a waste of resources. Our problem in this country is not constitutional review, rather, good governance that will make Nigeria great,” he said.

Corroborating the position, a prominent member of NCPF, Alh Khalil Bolaji said government should implement the resolutions of past national conferences rather than embark on a new one.

Khalil added: “There is no need for another national constitutional conference. The ones we had in the past, we have not implemented their resolutions.

“I don’t also think we can achieve a constitution amendment in the remaining period of this administration. We should implement the resolutions of the earlier national conferences which are products of all Nigerians”.

Also, secretary general of Association of Middle Belt Ethnic Nationalities (ASOMBEN), Rev James Pam, equally dismissed insinuations that all past conferences failed.

He said while some of the conferences were poorly organised, others were fairly organised.

He said, “The 2014 National Conference was the nearest we reached to correction of the situation, but President Jonathan did not have enough time to complete the job. Nonetheless, he tried.

“We cannot afford another expensive and time-consuming conference if we can agree today to harmonize Jonathan’s 2014 National Conference with about 600 recommendations to the Malam Nasir El-Rufai APC True Federalism and Restructuring Committee’s recommendations.”

In the same vein, president of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr Porgu Bitrus, said the full implementation of the 2014 conference report will address a lot of issues that Nigerians are yearning for.

According to him, the report of the conference thoroughly addressed the yearning and aspirations of all the people in the country.

He pointed out that having another conference is an unnecessary waste of time and resources.

“2014 conference report is the best the country ever had. Far reaching decisions were taken. If the draft is implemented it will address all the teething agitation by the people of this country,” he said.

Meanwhile, a founding member of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, (PANDEF) and former Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Idada Ikponmwen, has attributed the woes of the country to the obvious defects in the Nigerian constitution and insisted that it should be changed to absolved collective interest.

He said the country cannot prides itself as operating a constitutional democracy while constituent states go cap in hand to centre every month to collect federal allocation.

Ikponmwen, a legal practitioner, said, “The call for constitutional confab or conference is long overdue. To my mind there has never been any sincerity in those who made Nigerians believe we have a better system in place.

“We have had vision 2010, 2014 and we are living witness to how it all went. There was never the will to bring about improved system.

“A country of different ethnic nationalities must have a constitution that will work and command the respect of the various segments of the country. There are too many things wrong with our constitution; it is fundamentally defective in several terms. We cannot have a good government when the constitution is changed, this constitution exist just to avoid anarchy in the system

“We can’t say we have a federal republic when there is nothing federal about it. Today many states are not viable. They go cap in hand to Abuja every month to collect federal allocation in federalism there is fiscal autonomy, what we are parading is a unitary system wearing the gap of federalism.

“Since successive governments have failed to do what is right, we can only invoke the Almighty God to make our leaders do the right thing. There is a need for change. Call it restructuring or re-arrangement,” he stated.

Also, a political science lecturer at the University of Ilorin, Prof. Hassan Salihu, has called for the set-up of a technical committee to review the resolutions of past national conferences to bring out the salient points in addressing some of the challenges facing the country.

Prof Salihu said, “Nothing should be ruled out in the search for more national cohesion, including setting up a technical team to review the past conferences to bring out the salient points in addressing some of the current concerns.”

Source:- Leadership ng



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