Ebonyi State governor, Chief Martin Elechi, yesterday made a surprising U-turn on the proposed national conference ennuciated by President Goodluck Jonathan, describing it as a big joke and waste of time.This apart, Elechi said it was a distraction to Jonathan as the general elections approach.The governor, an ardent ally to Jonathan’s policies and programmes, stated this in Ikwo when founding fathers paid him Christmas homage.The founding fathers said they wanted to know the modalities of selecting delegates from the state and issues that should form their collective stand.But to their greatest surprise, the governor stressed that he would not participate in the exercise.Elechi had earlier lauded the initiative and urged Nigerians to avail themselves the opportunity of contributing meaningfully to the conference so that any grivances would be addressed.But in a dramatic change of mind, he said that he was sceptical about the conference as it would not achieve anything since the constitution has empowered the National Assembly to make laws for the country.The governor noted that the referendum can not supersede the deliberations of the National Assembly, but referred its advocators to revisit the colloqium by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005, as it had the participations of all segements of human life.He also noted that in the colloqium, far-reaching decisions were reached, but the National Assembly overrode it because of the third term ambition of Obasanjo.Though Elechi said he would consult his consitutuents to deliberate on whether to participate or not in the conference, he noted that if they eventually chose to participate, he would distance himself and be an on-looker.He said: “The national conference, to me, is a big joke, waste of time and a distraction to Goodluck Jonathan. I’m sceptical about it. It will not achieve anything”.“The constitution gives the National Assembly the power to makes laws and the referedum can not override the deliberations of the National Assembly”.“The best was the colloqium by former President Obasanjo in 2005. There, all segments of national life talked and reached far-reaching decisions. I will still consult my people, but if at the end, they decided to participate, I will not stop anybody, but I will distance myself and be an on-looker”.“The National Assembly overruled it due to the third term ambition of Obasanjo. We should revisit that colloqium and the recommendations reached, he suggested.
by: Ogochukwu ANIOKE, Abakaliki