Kano State Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, yesterday accused President Goodluck Jonathan of planning to use the planned national conference to cause confusion that could lead to the failure of the 2015 general elections.
Also, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, insisted that the proposed national dialogue should end at least six months before the 2015 general elections to avoid any clash with the polls. Kwankwaso and ACF spoke in Kano during a consultative meeting of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Conference with stakeholders in the North-West.
The North’s apex sociopolitical organisation also canvassed the inclusion of the 250 ethnic nationalities as delegates to the
conference. In a memo submitted to the committee during its consultative meeting in Kaduna, Kwankwaso argued that the National Assembly was already reviewing the constitution.
The governor, in the memo presented by his deputy, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, rejected the conference, saying civil society organisations and groups in Kano State had also opposed the proposed dialogue.
He maintained that the proposed gathering was politically designed to create problems between and among many nationalities that would make the nation more divided than united. The memo reads in part: “This is believed to be a well-orchestrated plan to cause confusion that may lead to the failure of the 2015 general elections.
“We suspect that it is possible that some minority agents of balkanisation of the nation that are bent on breaking up the historic unity of the Nigerian nation may seize the opportunity to achieve their mischievous agenda.
“At any rate, the President has declared that the outcome of the conference will be referred to the National Assembly for deliberations. “If that is so, the conference will only be discussing issues that we believe could simply be forwarded to the Assembly devoid of unnecessary spending for that purpose.
“In addition, assuming the dialogue is to hold, an eventuality we are absolutely opposed to, the presumed criteria for selection of participants to the conference that some ethnic champions are canvassing for are strange and unacceptable. “For instance, some are suggesting that representation should be on the basis of ethnic nationalities.
This, everyone knows, has no basis in our constitution; Nigeria is not structured on the basis of ethnic constituents. “Despite any witnesses it may have, the Nigerian Constitution has made adequate provision for the discussion of any issue of national interest by voting their representatives to the National Assembly; Nigerians have surrendered their sovereignty to the legislative body.
“Therefore, for any decision from any quarter to have the backing of the law, it must pass through the National Assembly unless all elected political office holders resign and hand over that sovereign power to the conference, which ought to fill the vacuum created.
“Mr. Chairman, it is our candid opinion that we are constrained to agree with the views of the pessimists that now is certainly not the time for such dialogue, sovereign or not. “The few havens of good governance are perpetually under threat by agents of doom, who hide behind politics to unleash terror, thank God the machination of those who don’t wish Nigeria and Nigerians well are always a failure. This time, too, they will surely not succeed.”
ACF representative, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Gusau, at a meeting with the National Dialogue Committee in Kano said that delegates for the conference should also come from the 774 local government areas. The forum said that traditional rulers, CAN, JNI, ASUU, NGF, among others, should be involved in the conference. Other northern groups also said that the 250 ethnic nationalities in the country should be represented at the national conference.
The leader of the Association of Hausa/Fulani and Kanuri Christians in the North-West, Mr. Yunana Yusuf Tsiga, called on delegates to discuss the imposition of religious laws and discrimination against minorities in the North.
Tsiga said: “Confiscation of missionary and community schools by states and Federal Government; the promotion of Almajiri religious schools by the Federal Government and the use of state resources for the promotion of religious objectives and agenda of the same groups should be critically examined.
“Uncontrolled immigration and settlement of other persons from other countries in Nigeria should be discussed.” However, the National President of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, SOKAPU, Mr. Ephraim Goje, called for the abolition of emirates in northern minority areas of the country.
“The Hausanisation and Islamisation of traditional institutions in the Middle Belt, including the deliberate imposition of Muslims on traditional stools of many groups should be discussed.
“Their subsequent declaration as emirates and their preservation only for Muslims, thus leading to the denigration of cultures and traditions of ethnic minorities, should be looked into. “Self-determination by ethnic nationalities and communities who should be given the right to run their affairs according to their tradition and culture should also be discussed.”
Meanwhile, despite increasing agitation by the original inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for a mayoralty status for the nation’s capital, the FCT Administration has disclosed that it will not present such demand when it meets with the committee tomorrow in Abuja.
The administration said since the issue was more of a constitutional matter, it had elected not to discuss it. The position of the FCTA was announced by one of its former ministers, Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar, who chaired a ministerial committee saddled with articulating a common stance for the territory when it meets with the Senator Femi Okunrounmu- led advisory committee on national dialogue.
His position was corroborated by the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, who also recalled that the issue had long been forwarded to both chambers of the National Assembly and that there was no need revisiting it again.
Submitting the committee’s recommendation, Umar said his group had raised over 20 recommendations, including the tenureship of the FCT minister, resettlement and compensation, FCT judiciary, funding and enhanced employment opportunities for indigenes. He said the committee looked at the major issues prominent in the nation’s life but that committee members had not been given copy of the recommendations to avoid being pre-empted.