Sunday, July 14, 2013

Nigeria's Stranded Sovereign National Conference

By Ambrose Ehirim

A forest of waving arms is created as a crowd applauds election results posted at the Lagos racetrack during the Nigerian general election December 16, 1959. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was reappointed Prime Minister of the Federation of Nigeria, which will achieve independence from Great Britain next Oct. 1st. Abubakar's party, the Northern People's Congress, emerged from the election with the largest number of seats in the New House of Representatives seated in Lagos. Image: Bettmann Archives

When the Fourth Republic took effect on May 29, 1999, on the national radar was a political discourse clamoring for a Sovereign National Conference, the SNC, to determine how best to “govern ourselves” according to the ideals of the sovereign nationalists who did not waste time to make their intentions known upon Olusegun Obasanjo’s slogan of “there will be no sacred cows,” giving the Nigerian public hope of better things to come. 

A whole lot of discussion groups surfaced. First, was the eruption of E-Group and related list-serves before the folks at Yahoo acquired them. Then, popped up a number of Nigerian websites and related message boards where Nigerian political junkies from all walks of life engaged on national discourse, related symposiums, and things like that. 

The Nigerianworld website run by Chuck Odili out of Charlotte, North Carolina, stood out, exploded on the heated SNC debates which simmered and simmered, at the message boards, by a group of not mellowed, radical young intellectuals of the day, and the quest for a SNC overwhelmingly the trend. 

Mobolaji Aluko, the mad professor as he was then known from his oftentimes irrational, aggressive debates, had jumped on board and spearheaded the marketing of the conference of sovereign nationalities Obasanjo had already loathed before its inception. Aluko's campaign to convince and persuade these young and bright radical intellectuals would be brought to a stop, the mad professor’s impulse kind of marketing strategy to sell the SNC projects which frustrated the efforts of the mad professor, [Aluko], sinking so low and ending up insulting everybody and denying the fact that he never used handles, even while an announcer at the Radio Kudirat, during the NADECO movement to reinstate Moshood Abiola as the credited president of the country by upholding the “June 12, 1993” elections Abiola had been alleged to have won, on the SDP, the Social Democratic Party ticket in which his best crony and deal-maker, Ibrahim Babaginda nullified on the grounds of election malpractices then electoral chairman, Humphrey Nwosu had earlier claimed was clearly free of magomago and wuruwuru, and according to Nwosu, Abiola had polled 8,323,305 votes against Bashir Tofa’s National Republican Convention 6,073,612 votes. 

With “June 12” becoming a thing of the past as the nation moved on, bearing in mind what was ahead in the Fourth Republic, and what should be done to keep it intact and viable in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past, the SNC became the only alternative to resolve the nation’s continuing sickening political landscape even though Obasanjo was backing down on said call and never wanted it to materialize in any form or shape. It is still hanging in, there. 

However, Aluko use to engage me on matters arising from proposals regarding the SNC and we’d discuss into the night, and, my humble self would not endorse said conference if it should take place on the only reason that such gathering had been held at one time in the nation’s life. As a result, I penned a piece questioning the validity of the SNC in which Aluko was quick to respond; that since I negate calls for SNC, that I should come up with a better solution; that my decline to an SNC wasn’t enough grounds until I explain why it shouldn't be held even though I had made it patently clear that I stand by the SNC only if it had not been held in the past, and for any bearings, there’s the need to dust off the Aburi Accord or make up our minds and decide which way the country should lean on by way of what would be good for the citizenry and a lasting peace among nations of varied ethnic backgrounds. 

Or as I have contemplated in my relative discourses with Aluko, that a dissolution would provide entirely a different meaning on how we should be dealing with one another for the interest of the people in the region. 

Aluko flirted from group to group searching for answers to why some of us declined to endorse the gathering of ethnic nationalities tailored to move the nation forward in its devotion to a sound democratic fabric which had eluded the people, resulting from a long haul of military rule and dictatorship. 

During the course of these debates at the celebrated E-Groups forums, Naijanet, founded by Odili and other related ethnically-based discussion platforms - before the filtered and censored Martin Akindana’s-led Naija Politics three quarter of its members are handles and fake names - there was Igbo Forum created by Acho Orabuchi and his colleagues in Dallas, Texas; there was Egbe Omo Oduduwa serving the Yoruba nation; Edo Forum, Urhobo Forum, Hausa Forum, and as the list goes on, all were bent on a must scheduled SNC so as to chart the course of the nation’s destiny, I had presented in its original format, the Aburi Accord, meeting held in Aburi, Ghana January 4-5, 1967, and presided by General Joseph Ankrah of Ghana, and attended by Nigerian delegates led by Anthony Enahoro and Obafemi Awolowo, while Chukwuemeka Ojukwu led the Eastern Nigerian delegates on a two-day marathon meet to seek resolve on a series of complicated issues facing a country that had begged on her knees to be granted freedom, from a colonial Britain just five years of its confessional sovereign experiment. 

Five years and some fractions, to be precise, was how soon a country that had gone through decades of negotiations for independence without bloodshed, except instances of civil unrest and picketing to denounce colonial rule for anarchy to erupt within the political and intellectual elite, and an all of a sudden roll call by a group of young military juntas that would hijack an experimental and newly born republic, which would be followed by bloodbath never before seen in the history of the state. 

The agreement at Aburi was signed, sealed and delivered for the Nigerian delegates and Ojukwu’s-led Eastern Nigerian delegates to adhere to, until the possibilities of a nascent “union” was obtained following the guidelines and decision reached, which may have suggested a split. But the Nigerian delegates would be quick to react, to the Aburi Accord, and would negate all rules set to enhance relations between a murderous Nigerian gang and a seceding Biafran state resulting to series of wanton killings carried out by the northern and western Nigerian vandals, hoodlums and nihilists. 

The Aburi Accord, that spectacular document and the failure to respect the decisions reached, had been one of the hiccups surrounding the SNC, in the event it holds, and why the same subjects as in January 4-5, 1967 meeting and the sudden about face would likely have the same resemblance after a completed SNC by consensus. It was against this background that many had shunned a SNC including former president Obasanjo who never gave the proposal a chance while a sitting president. 

But the pundits never stopped talking about the gathering of ethnic nationalities to situate what would serve the entire nation right and how the mandate could facilitate the ways and means in which the legislature, the judiciary, the executive arm of government and other related governmental concerns could be structured for a thorough system to be in order.

And a close look draws conclusion that the clamor for a sovereign national conference was engineered by the Awoists movements of the time, disappointed that power eluded them, though in the hands of their own kin they chose not to respect and recognize, they deviated to back fully in its terms the Oodua Peoples Congress, the OPC, to make their demands known, and with the threat to declare their own Republic of Oduduwa if the SNC fails to hold, which as made apparent, the deliberate acts of terrorist activities carried out and sustained by the Ganiyu Adams-led faction of the OPC, sending shocking waves to the Lagos metropolis and the related Yoruba states. 

The SNC, no doubt, on the Diaspora debate, had been a good initiative, but had been well armed by the Awoist movements led by Aluko on all fronts and the label of we who declined a meeting of such as anti-Awoists intellectuals, having no clue what the “sage” of the west stood for and his principles they claim had helped all, and thought should be used as a mark of symbolic leadership that already was grounded out there on the westside to show for it. 

The Awoist movements led by Aluko from all it stood for had been bellicose on grounds that if what they had suggested was unacceptable, that the newest version of the republic would crumble, eventually, and a signal that would erupt the unpredictable as Adam’s OPC stands by to take on the next steps following the movements’ call to break the republic. The emotional, restless mouthpiece for the group of sovereign nationalists, Femi Fani-Kayode, who had threatened a full blown war in the event Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in Lagos and the Yoruba-related states, was vocal, and made his feelings known, that an Odi Massacre and other related blood soaked events in the country would be a child’s play if their demands were not met or if members of Adam’s-led OPC are apprehended and locked up. I have quite often used Kayode’s threatening gestures in many occasions, in his desire for war against the state, and I had thought it must not be allowed to disappear, and must always be used against the Yoruba mouthpiece for threatening national security. Kayode again: 

Let the Obasanjo administration be under no illusion: we will not sit by idly and tolerate an 'Odi massacre' or a 'Choba mass rape,' anywhere in Yorubaland. If it ever happens, the OPC will be forced to form an armed wing of young warriors and together with other groups in Yorubaland, we will violently resist the evil intentions of our collective detractors. The militancy of the OPC will then be childs play compared to what will befall Nigeria. 

This line of threat was overlooked by then President Obasanjo only to turn around and pacify a barking Kayode with ministerial appointment, quieting him for sometime until that source of feeding was no longer available. Upon Kayode’s appointment as aviation minister by the Obasanjo regime, the barking sovereign nationalist, Kayode, never made mention of the agitation regarding a national round-table meant to address and fix among other complicated issues, the nation’s constitutional and socio-economic ills that had hanged around for so long. Kayode had been fed fat with a bigger wallet size from the national coffers of an inept, corrupt Obasanjo-led regime. Kayode, henceforth, brushed aside the once national emergency of a sovereign national conference and stopped speaking ill of Obasanjo’s administration.  

Enter the maiden proponent of national call, Aluko, for resolve to a national crisis of the SNC. Aluko ran the message-boards and group forums like he was getting paid under the table and with prospects for elevation of status which as it turned out, would also quiet the mad professor after pacification by a generated government that had the right nuts and bolts to screw into his brains a shut up and take approach to keep him calm and becoming while a corrupt regime does its thing - ongoing screwing of the people. Aluko has since disappeared from the SNC radar after taking the vice chancellorship job at the Federal University, Otuoke in Bayelsa State, President Goodluck Jonathan's home state. 

At Odili’s Nigeriaworld, many things happened from the SNC debates. Many had taken to handles to speed up the projected agenda of the sovereign nationalists while the anti-Awoists intellectuals equally met the challenges - propped up their handles which chased away the Aluko gang on the prescription of the owner, Odili; who doctored and monitored the debates including postings he found not healthy to his acclaimed Nigeriaworld used as a personal tool, though his, to silence folks and any mention of Biafra. 

During the said SNC propaganda and the waves that brought it ashore to breed, the blood-lust northern Islamist Jihadists, all of a sudden and sounding positively bloodthirsty, begun another cycle of bloodletting in the name of Sharia laws on a nation consisting of a wide range of nationalities, varied beliefs and multiple of languages spoken. 

The Sharia debacle had overshadowed the SNC debates and a pretending Yoruba handles had taken to aloof and not sure of their positioning which was obvious in their stance, watching the reactions of we who had been singled out again, and, slaughtered from place to place, reflecting on incidences of the 1966 Pogrom and, a situation that had dealt a big blow to the Igbo leadership. The Sharia debacle recalled in its operation what had led to the Aburi talks in Ghana, which resurfaced through a plot Nigerians least expected an outcome in its capacity, the speed at which the slaughtering spread, and the rate from around the way it was carried out by the nihilists and Islamic Jihad terrorists, sent out by the caliphates who bankrolled their deadly movement. As the murderous gang slaughtered Igbos and the Christian south without hindrance, while Obasanjo’s office sat idly and watched, and by the time it was over, thousands of law abiding civilians going about their businesses, majority of them Igbos, had met their death. 

And as it had also happened when the debate on the Sharia debacle heated up, the blood soaked event had generated and reflected on Biafra which had what would be my colleagues and I to challenge Odili’s partiality on how he treated our responses and what had unfolded in the north, and why he (Odili) and his cohorts applauded another cycle of Igbo massacre just about when the entire world had thought gruesome acts from bigotry and hatred would not happen again, Odili, who dictated the message boards axed we who sympathized with our kith and kin who had been victims of the Sharia debacle. 

The Yoruba handles including their neighboring middle belters had actually called for our immediate oust from any relative discourses from the monopoly of a website yet to face any challenges on issues arising from the nation’s just begun Fourth Republic that was full of uncertainties from complications of what brought it thus far - SNC to make up with Abiola’s death and the realism Obasanjo did not earn the spot. 

But as the whole issue had developed, one was of the thinking what would have been if an accidental Fourth Republic had not surfaced as it did unexpectedly and why the agitation did not include the quest to meet on grounds of finding solution to the mountain of problems that had caused a nation’s ills; and, would it be on those grounds that the military juntas had been on the way which deprived the possibilities of a SNC in progress - not at all? And given the situation as is, and a national conference is held, would it protect all forms of civil liberties or would the existing constitution continue to pervade us with the abuse of human rights as it has become the order of the day? And since culture and tradition are observed in a number of ways and differently depending on the ethnic group, would impulse preferences on ethnic-based traditions be properly upheld and respected? That is, what is law in one state based on the state’s cultural heritage would not be law in another state where it had nothing to do with the said subject matter? 

In his review of my piece on the SNC and how Nd’Igbo would be gearing up towards the event assuming it’s held and how other ethnic nationals would approach it [“Igbos, Igbo Charter, Etc. and the Igbo Nation,” BNW Magazine September 2002/The Ambrose Ehirim Files], then Australian-based attorney, Francis Elekwachi, whose opinion varied from others including mine, as my article suggested, Elekwachi forwarded his personal opinionated document on behalf of the PICAD, the Pan-Igbo Constituent Assembly in Diaspora he had collaborated with some few of his Igbo friends, he had persuaded to join his membership in order to present his personalized document as a whole, an entity for the ongoing relative discourses that would be part of the Igbo agenda in decisions which probably would be reached at the conference, when an entire nation had convened, rewriting and producing a constitution of the national state in the manner it should, and supposedly to have been, attracted and flushed out Igbo elites at Igbo Forum while Elekwachi laid emphasis on the significance of Igbo-related document at the conference which his PICAD, well done, and assumed so, according to him [Elekwachi], should be used after a thorough rereading and editing of the paper by members of Igbo Forum and other related Igbo medium. 

Elekwachi was committed and seriously concerned with his colleagues on the challenges other ethnic nationalities had been “down and ready” for the conference with their respective documents intact, while Nd’Igbo were a lacking behind in meeting up with the schedule and deadline. 

The question again is popped up; how could Igbo have worked together when factions upon factions began to surface at the discussion groups, and, Orabuchi’s Dallas-based Igbo Forum had been the only platform Igbo met to discuss Igbo issues and what that had meant in creating the awareness, which would be extended to generations to come in the native land and Diaspora? 

What in its short time amounted to what degenerated to splits uncalled for, with many other factions when the Nd’Igbo Forum, first to go its own way, had differences, workable, with Orabuchi and his set of a censoring Igbo Forum denying some members posting privileges which had raised questions, doubting a collaborative, working Igbo nationhood for Igbo common good. 

From the scheme of things and what had unfolded, the split -- the carving out of Nd’Igbo Forum, World Igbo Forum, Igbo World Net, Igbo Mandate and as the list goes on and on -- did not look good and did not favor any outcome to move Igbo agenda forward. Today the hundreds of Igbo related forums that had appeared over time seeking relevance has caused more harm than good by way of a concretely established Igbo identity worldwide, and the motive in which they sought their importance of an impact to send the related messages across by doing things differently in order to effect the desired change which disappeared in its entirety, and the intent for their rendering of a profound Igbo national state in all their givings and endeavor for recognition to stand out as the particular voice making the said change, unfortunately, waned, as a result of lacking what was required in commitment and strategically to bring about the reform and changes. 

And talking about the SNC, of what purpose would it serve that elected representatives of the National Assembly could not resolve in that regard to bring about a constitutional mandate that would be used for the peoples interest? 

The question of the National Assembly to appropriately use its legislative powers and proportional representation has now many hiccups on the basis of widespread scandals of corruption that an attempt to have the assembly members determine the outcome of the SNC would spell another doom for the nation in its entirety. What had transpired lately with the nation’s legislative process speaks volumes.

Talk about a nagging SNC. In fourteen solid years of the Fourth Republic’s fledgling democratic fabric its experiments had all been nothing but failure, and its presidency, legislature, judiciary and the local governments are yet to have a structure concretely established; and with the ongoing clamor on how better to “understand and govern ourselves,” and, situating what had bordered on the unbalanced, political culture, from the onset when the founding fathers -- Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, K.O. Mbadiwe, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the rest -- came up with a deal negotiating with their colonial masters, agreeing on the concept to fabricate a republic even though it had become patently clear that the nation in formation and its current trend of operation prescribed by the colonists was not going to work by all accounts of its intent, and knowing for the fact it was not meant to be, that its attempt to work things out could be wasted in vain; and a country, at last, over fifty years of its composition would still not be sure of exactly what it really wanted; what now suggests from the extent the country had dragged on aimlessly since October 1, 1960, that a SNC and a profound resolution on consensus could be obtained? 

What guarantees that the terrorists operatives, the murderous Boko Haram Islamists would cease and desist from their bloodletting games? What guarantees that the now widespread kidnapping bunch on the Southeast and its environs would come to terms with reality that kidnapping for ransom destroys every aspect of liberty and enhances corruption? What guarantees that if the SNC enacts its laws and proposals for a civil society to be organized following normal procedure that it would be upheld and respected? 

Like the Balkan states once conjoined by a colonial British empire and its interesting allies, and influenced domineering agents practically put in place to create chaos which was intentionally done in order to coerce and steal the resources of the people in question, and sell back to them tariffed and excised, the products by way of trade what originally belonged to them which eventually would lead to the divisions that separates them and keeps them apart  as enemies until the realization that they were and have been different entities, having nothing to do with each other in its cultural history, botany and ways of worship. 

It was not too long ago that the Balkans sought a way out of the British entrapment, putting  the said motion of self-reliance/plebiscite into perspective which as worked out through dialogue and warfare, split the nationalities, and appropriately located to where they had belonged -- independently, sovereign and stabilized -- as an entity. Eventually, they fought and went their separate ways ending decades of confusion, internal strife and religious violence brought about by a preconceived acts of colonialism. 

As seen and had happened over time; and as could be drawn from related events on the course of the nation’s history before the Union Jack lowered its domain to openly test the agitators who had asked to be left alone and for sovereignty to play itself out, and knowing the power would remain in their hands, the colonial masters, as they had envisioned without too much probing to find out the sovereign nationalists, the founders of the fabricated nation, were not fully engaged and prepared on grounds of its varied ethnicity which had identified a staggering number of the enclaves with numerous dialects and languages that cohabiting was never the right and good call. 

Most African countries, if not all, shares the same divide and conquer colonial problem -- from the northern Arab leagues, including the east African states to the west and south African coasts. The scramble by the colonial powers of Western Europe in their arrangements carved out these nations, grouped them and assigned to them what would serve colonial power interests without considering what had been mandated under said social contracts, was not for the interest of the people colonized but to profit by way of exploitation, taking away their entire resources and not accepting any guilt or wrongdoing; which has been in existence till today. 

None of the said colonial states in all its colonial era and post independence struggle to overcome the predicaments of the colonial prescriptions did what it should have done redrawing its districts to what would conform to its standard and conducive to its environment which determines the way of its existence as one indigenous people and how they should live. 

The quest for self reliance and things like that from the agitation of the sovereign nationalists never stopped to get the attention of the colonial powers in their demands to draw what would be the guideline as some of the founding national members earlier proffered with instances of the colonial powers itself as examples in drawing conclusion towards the settings of a national state. 

Awolowo had made this line of argument very clear indicating the identities of nation states and its descriptions, and, the differences they make in standing out as sovereign states, stating categorically in analogy what separates nation states from each other, even though treaties, accords and stuff of that nature could place them under one doctrine and not necessarily meaning they are in real terms one, indivisible nation state. The Scot, the Irish, the Welsh and the English are nation states with a whole lot of differences, and thus, according to Awolowo, these nations could not be classified as one, indivisible nation, but separate nationals as they have been meant to be. And in that regard, a collaboration of these nation states as one, would end up in futility as they were not meant to be. Awolowo was being realistic in his comparison of nation states even though the colonial British empire had concluded how it wanted Nigeria shaped by its power allocating formula when a northern caliphate was catapulted to the top as the favorite. 

The allocations and a northern premier who had to call the shots from his northern base coupled with a northern prime minister and party leader at the center, and, presiding over the affairs of state, quieted anything peculiar to a national conference call until a national political crisis erupted from Awolowo’s western regional enclaves, which would lead to accusations and purported moves against the state, and a rounding up of Awolowo and his Action Group colleagues, for treason; with complicated events that called for social order and an eventual lead for the military juntas to set up its campaign to ruin the nation. 

A national conference, after Aburi, would sit comfortably idling until the military juntas lifted the ban on political activities, setting up commissions for constitutional conferences, drafting committees and finally what would be used as the nation’s sacred document. The commissions would recommend a working document as transition to a second attempt towards civilian rule. 

The call never stopped echoing and Jonathan's government bought it as its logical and sympathetic gestures to pacify a confused public knowing not what exactly it all means. Despite Jonathan who had pledged for the august event to be held sooner than later, and as Nigerians takes his words for it and, perhaps to use the pledge as part of his 2015 reelection campaign strategies, none of the sovereign nationalists are popping up the questions assuming the event is held as scheduled, the existing laws drawn from the Abdulsalami Abubakar’s-led transition team that produced the current constitution being used by a do-nothing National Assembly, which was hurriedly written, and which had not been thoroughly revised by the peoples mandate, leaving the talked about vacuum of the nation’s constitutional order likely to be adopted from the proceedings of the SNC, whenever time and day it is held. 

The way it had appeared, Jonathan seems not to be in a hurry to use his executive privileges, summoning the district heads and councilors in all the local governments of the federation, with leads to work with and an outcome that would endorse a national call. 

Above all else, one must not fail to ask the take of our leading constitutional scholars and what it all meant, and what they have to say in terms of relevance for a SNC. Are they of the opinion that those who should be picked for the convention would be diligent, committed and totally patriotic to the projected agenda and give it their best shot? And in their opinion, who should be picked to represent the regional enclaves? Would the picks be done by merit? And if it is, would they be respected to answer a national call? And what would be their explanation if the death penalty is retained based on the crime wave in the country and why should capital punishments be abolished? Or capital punishments should not only be made to stay but to have the defendants go through the same kind of torture they handed their victims by murdering them in the most brutal way? On the minors, should they be tried as adults on capital related offenses or let go for being juveniles? What are their takes on kidnapping, the new kind of crime in the southeastern states, would the death penalty be enough to curtail the crime wave? 

Fourteen years of pursuit to hunt down an evasive SNC is quite an enduring long chase and for the project not to have made a headway with slight assurance that it is hopeful and eventually would take place indicates the SNC was not taken serious by the agitators to have either compelled Jonathan and the National Assembly to loosen up and schedule the conference, or take the case into their own hands and mobilize the populace to carry out demonstrations and indefinite strikes until the governing councils begins to do something about it. 

Enter the suffering masses whose only voice had been a related social media and the liberal press that happens to be victims of the capitalists gangs who knows nothing else other than to protect their wealth in a nation that has never been stable in every aspect of its encounters. Taking a deep look at their take in what was begun in 1943 when delegates comprising of the regional geographic settings picked from the chiefs and traditional rulers of every enclave as representatives, the delegates, however, did not envision presenting what would be fair on the accounts of plebiscite which if had been the case and taken as a measure, may have been considered by the colonial administrators which could have resolved the gridlock surrounding a complicated national state to pave way for the variety of ethnic groups as independent nations.

But now that the Jonathan-led administration is assuring the nation to take his word to the bank, on concrete grounds that a sovereign national conference would be real with any uncertainties a thing of the past, what is now the position of a two-year ongoing project by the House of Representatives to review and recommend revisions for the constitution that was sneaked in, unguided, by the Abdulsalami-led military juntas? Should the Nigeria populace accept what had been haggled for the last two years in attempts to amend a constitution that was originally prescribed by the military juntas? Would a military junta prescribed constitution be fair enough for the people under a democratic set up? And since the committee, the Constitution Review Committee of the House of Representatives seems to have arrived to conclusion what would set the tone for a new constitution from what had been presented with a list of recommendations if that should be used as the nation's working document, and if it becomes so, what would be Jonathan's take from his earlier promises on my word for it done deal SNC? Would the House of Representatives' recommendations be used as items for the SNC or would it be stamped once and for all revised constitution of the Fourth Republic?

Now assuming this: With the Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha-led 47-member committee drawn from each state of the federation to review the 1999 constitution and make recommendations which they have already done and presented -- duties of traditional rulers, the immunity clause for presidents and governors, abrogation of the State Independent Electoral Commission, independent settler clauses, electoral offenses, budget and funds control, independence of the judiciary, law enforcement, executive privileges of the presidency and as the list goes on -- and if Jonathan accepts the recommendations as is, where then posits the SNC? Would there still be a Sovereign National Conference after Nigerians from the 360 federal constituencies had been engaged to participate in the People's Public Sessions and a final tally presented on the floor of the House of Representatives? If not, and again, would an amended document originally composed by the military juntas be fair, considerate and appropriate for use in a democratic fabric? Yes?


A country divided into 3 distinct regions, all of which gained self-government before Nigeria's independence, with a large measure of power. Shown here (L-R) are the leaders of the 3 regions: Sir Ahmadu Bello, Northern Nigerian Premier; Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Western lRegion eader; and Dr. Ndamdi Azikiwe, Eastern Nigerian Chief. Image: Bettmann Collection

A group of chiefs and traditional rulers await the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II at Port Harcourt February 11, 1956. Image: Hulton-Deutsch Collection.

The Ooni of Ife, a member of the Action Group delegation (C) arriving at No. 10 Carlton House Terrace in London for the opening of the Nigerian Constitutional Conference July 30, 1953. Image: Hulton-Deutsch Collection.
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