Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Igbo Leaders Demand Conference Of Ethnic Nationalities

Forget 2015, Nwabueze tells Jonathan

By Lawrence Njoku, The Guardian Nigeria

A group, Concerned Igbo Leaders of Thought led by constitutional lawyer, Prof Ben Nwabueze has written to President Goodluck Jonathan advising him not to convene the proposed national
conference using his inherent powers as enshrined in section 5 of the 1999 Constitution, as said to have been recommended by the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC), warning that doing so would lead to anarchy.

  At a press conference, Nwabueze restated his earlier call on President Jonathan not to stand for re-election in 2015, stressing that he cannot combine the mobilization of election next year with the national conference.

 “I have advised him (Jonathan) to try and be a statesman, to be a hero and forget 2015. That the day you announce to Nigerians that you aare not going to stand for election in 2015, you become a great hero. You cannot combine these two thing–the mobilization for national conference which is aimed at national transformation and 2015 general elections. It is not possible. I have said it several times, I stated it when I led The Patriots to see him on August 29, 2013. I said it in Uyo, and I am saying it now”, Nwabueze stated.

 In a letter to the president dated January 6, 2014 and titled “ The position of the Igbo Nation on the National Conference, the renegotiated constitution of Nigeria”, the group insisted that President Jonathan should send an executive bill to the National Assembly authorizing the convocation of  an ethnic national conference whose outcome will be subjected to referendum, advising Nigerians to resort to protests should the National Assembly decline to authorize the conference.

   “The trouble here is that we Nigerians are docile, we finish here today, and everybody goes home, nothing happens. In other countries it does not happen. If the National Assembly refuses to pass the bill, the people should troop out to protest because these law makers are elected by the people and it is the people they should serve. The people say they are sovereign, but they are only sovereign by words of the mouth,” he said Reminded that such protests could lead to disintegration and probably affect the general election, Nwabueze said: “You do it to get a new system, you do it because we want a change. We cannot disintegrate, it will lead to desirable change. The general election is not a do-or-die matter, we can leave it for 2015. Many countries change the date for their election; we must get it right before we go to election.”

Nwabueze, who briefed reporters in Enugu on the essence of the letter by his group to the President, stated that it was borne out of the fact that the PAC empowered to ascertain the process of the conference had in their recommendations failed to meet the expectations of Nigerians.

 He added that such expressions were contained in a memorandum submitted to the President on August last year, when The Patriots which he leads visited the President where the idea of the national conference was mooted.

 Nwabueze said; “What the letter to the president is saying is that we wish to adopt a statement of the demand by The Patriots in the memorandum they submitted to you during a meeting with you on 29th August, 2013, particularly the elucidation of the fundamental attributes of the type of conference being demanded. These fundamental attributes are two: namely, a conference to adopt a suitable new constitution embodying renegotiated terms on which the diverse ethnic groups comprised in Nigeria can live together in peace, security, progress, general wellbeing and unity under one common central government, not a conference, the result of which deliberations will only be integrated in the existing 1999 Constitution.

“We don’t want that because the 1999 Constitution is a constitution only in a loose sense, it is not a constitution in the original sense of the act of the people, constituting the state and government. We are saying that this country has never had a constitution in the real sense, right from the colonial times, the constitution was made by the British not the people. The military came and made the constitution and in 1999, the military still made the constitution. We are saying that after all these years, the people of this country as a sovereign people should be given the opportunity to adopt a constitution for themselves and this is particularly important for the Igbo. We want the conference as an opportunity where we will sit with other ethnic groups to negotiate the terms and constitutions in which we will live together with others, the terms and constitutions to be embodied in a constitution.

“Secondly, conference of the ethnic nationalities making up the Nigerian state  should be the focal point, not a conference of individual Nigerians as autonomous entities or interest groups, although the latter should be given sizeable representation. We are demanding a conference of ethnic nationalities in this country. The people who wear the shoe know where it pinches. All the quarrels in this country are between ethnic groups claiming marginalization, some claiming injustice, some claiming suppression and the time has come for these ethnic groups, ethnic nationalities to come together. The autonomous individual Nigerians should not be excluded altogether, they should be given representation. We don’t want conference of interest groups or civil society groups and so on. We want a conference of ethnic nationalities. These are the two attributes of the conference we are demanding and these two attributes were amplified in a 30-paragraph memorandum submitted by The Patriots under my chairmanship to the President.

Nwabueze, Dr Dozie Ikedife, former President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo; Chief Anyim Ude (Ebonyi), Chief Enechi Onyia (Enugu) and two others signed the letter
Post a Comment