As the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue/Conference kick-started its nationwide consultation in Akure, the Ondo state capital yesterday, stakeholders from the South West unanimously submitted that decisions reached at the conference be taken to a referendum.
They posited that afterwards,the President will forward an Executive Bill to the National Assembly which shall enact it into law without tinkering with any of the decision.
This is just as other ethnic nationalities and civil society groups in the Niger-Delta at a pre-national conference congress, yesterday, in Warri, Delta state, insisted that the final decisions of proposed national conference should not be subjected to a review of either the National Assembly or Federal Government.
This position was made known by the Regional Coordinator of the Pre-national Conference Congress, Sir Casely Omon-Irabor, who noted that President Goodluck Jonathan had said recently that the result of the confab would be subject to ratification by the National Assembly.
He however asked: “How practicable is that?”, adding: “I think one of the major issues this conference will discuss is whether there is need to continue to enslave ourselves in a union that is oppressive and dangerous, considering the spate of civil insurrection in various aspects of the country.”
Omon-Irabor continued: “If we must, what are the terms and conditions, most probably, by the end of the conference, the National Assembly may no longer exist in the term they currently are now,” he asserted.
National coordinator, Forum for Justice and Human Rights Defence, FJHD, Oghenejabor Ikimi, said, “We believe that the national conference /dialogue must be a conference of all ethnic nationalities of Nigeria and we suggest that membership must be on the basis of equal representation of each of the 102 ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and representatives of other interest groups nationawide.”
Stakeholders from the South West also maintained that the only process that would be able to alter any of the decisions reached at the conference is a referendum of the Nigerian people.
“The role of the existing government on the decisions of the conference would be only implementation and the decisions reached at the conference would be subjected to a refrendum of the Nigerian people.
Various groups insist on a National Conference with sovereign powers as far as decisions it reached are concerned.
The various groups that submitted memorandum said that the National Assembly would be acting as agents of their Principals who are the people of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Archbishop Matthew Kukah has said that the planned Conference is not the solution to Nigeria’s problem, just as he stated the danger of the ongoing strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Kukah disclosed this at the 6th Anthony Cardinal Okogie Annual Lecture/Foundation, with theme: “Calming the Storm: Witnessing in a time of insecurity,” held in Lagos.
“When you say we are calling for SNC, I wonder who and who is involved, only a few people have expressed their interest, those who read newspapers in Nigeria are not up to 10 percent of the population. However, SNC is here, those who are calling for it, what are they going to do? I have not called for a SNC and I don’t believe it is the solution to our problem, there are those who believe in it strongly.”
He submitted further, saying, “What will solve our problem is the understanding of the problem itself. The first thing we need to do is to ask ourselves what is wrong with us, what has happened to our society?
“Talking is not what is going to solve the problem, because we are talking everyday. This is a freedom that Nigerians are taking for granted but is not available to people in Somalia, Syria, North Korea. We are taking these things for granted, talking is not just people gathering.
“The first thing to do in solving our problem is to realise what our problems are. It is after a proper diagnosis of what the problems are, then we can mobilize the resources required to deal with the problems,” Kukah stated.
National Confab: Ohanaeze leaders storm Enugu today
TO articulate Igbo position on how to organise a credible and popular national conference, leaders of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, will meet in Enugu, the EnuguState capital today.
Hinting about the meeting in a telephone conversation with Vanguard, National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Dr Joe Nwaorgu, said the Ime-Obi (Igbo High Parliament) meeting is “a one-item agenda “gathering.
Asked what they would deliberate on, he said: We only have one agenda: National Dialogue.”
Those expected at the meeting of the highest policy making organ of Ohanaeze, according to him, are former vice presidents of Igbo extraction, former governors, former senate presidents, military top shots and captains of industry among others.