Still On National Confab
Since the return of civil
rule in 1999, pro-democracy groups in Nigeria have been clamouring for a Sovereign National Conference where the various ethnic nationalities that make up the Nigerian state will be given the opportunity to re-negotiate their stake in the Nigeria project for their collective well-being. Both past and present administrations had been vehement in their opposition to the idea of convoking a Sovereign National Conference, basically to justify the nation’s representative democracy and the “indispensable” services being rendered by those at the helm of affairs. The National Assembly in particular had been very vociferous in opposing the idea and was never comfortable whenever such matter was being raised by members of the public. In 2012 the National Assembly had this to say.
“Talking about Sovereign National Conference now looks like going back to the days of tribal champions. It is like going backwards. For us, it is not just because we are sitting here (in National Assembly), but we are moving forward the fragile democracy.
“A Sovereign conference is suitable for countries that are coming out of war and not Nigeria. We believe that rather than solving the problems, the Sovereign National Conference will end up creating more problems for us.
“They should believe in National Assembly. They are talking about the constitution but there is no way the constitution will be perfect. But since we are in the process of reviewing and amending the constitution, let them take advantage of the exercise and present their grievances and proposals to the National Assembly, so that it could be taken care of”.
In order not to upset the apple cart President Goodluck Jonathan was supportive of the position of the National Assembly. Hear him:
“In recognition of the demands by Nigerians for a constitutional amendment, we set up the Justice Belgore Committee to bring up all those issues which have been agreed upon at previous National Conferences, for presentations as bills to the National Assembly and subsequent passage into law, while a larger body will meet on issues that are still controversial for a national consensus.
“The committee will bring up areas of national consensus from 2006 National Political Reform Conference for National Assembly’s consideration towards effecting constitutional amendments.”
Speaking at the annual national conference of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in Calabar in August this year, the Senate President, David Mark, re-affirmed the position of the National Assembly on Sovereign National Assembly. Hear him:
“The National Assembly recognizes the right of Nigerians to aggregate, assemble or meet in any legitimate form or manner to discuss the affairs of their country and indeed encourages such fora as it is a constitutional right. A mark of such encouragement is the elaborate public hearings that have become part of our constitutional amendment process. We however, have difficulties with the calls by certain sections of the party for a Sovereign National Conference.
“The 1999 constitution (as amended) with all its imperfections, including its debatable origin, remains our grundnorm, our supreme law from which all other laws derive and express our sovereignty. It creates all the powers, institutions and authorities of the state to which we have all submitted. We have challenged its provisions in courts of law established by it and obeyed the decisions of the courts.
“We have therefore ratified the constitution by our conduct. The 1999 constitution (as amended) is a reality.
Consequently, where will the Sovereign National Conference be convoked and by whom and under what terms? I have been confronted by the argument that sovereignty derives from and belongs to the people. How then do we get the people to confer sovereignty on such a conference?
“These are intractable issues to be addressed by the agitations for Sovereign National Conference and that is why I subscribe to the proposal for an amendment to the 1999 constitution to provide for the making of a new constitution.”\
Surprisingly, President Jonathan, while playing host recently to a political pressure group, The Patriots, led by Professor Ben Nwabueze expressed support for the convocation of a conference for ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
“It is time to have a conference but the limitation we have is that the constitution appears to have given that responsibility to the National Assembly.
“I have also been discussing the matter with the leadership of the National Assembly. We want a situation where everyone will key into the process and agree on the way forward.
However, Nigerians were stunned and dumbfounded when the Senate President, David Mark recoiled from his hard stance to lend weight to the convocation of national conference. His volte-face came barely a month after he had attended the NBA conference in Calabar where he reiterated the position of the National Assembly on the matter. Hear Senator Mark at the resumption of the Senate from annual recess on September 17 this year:
“We live in very precarious times and in a world increasingly made fluid and toxic by strange ideologies and violent tendencies, all of which currently conspire to question the very idea of the Nigerian state. But that is not to say that the nation should like the proverbial ostrich, continue to bury its head in the sand and refuse to confront the perceived or alleged structural distortions which have bred discontentment and alienation in some quarters. This sense of discontentment and alienation has fuelled extremism, apathy and even predictions of catastrophy for our dear nation.
“A conference of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities called to foster frank and open discussions of national question, can certainly find accommodation in the extant provision of the 1999 constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and of association. To that extent it is welcome.
“But be that as it may, such a conference if and whenever convened should have only a few red lines, chief among which would be dismemberment of the country. Beyond that every other question would be open to deliberations.
“However, I hasten to add that it would be unconstitutional to clothe such a conference with constituent or sovereign power. But the resolution of a national conference, consisting of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities and called under the auspices of government of the federation will indeed carry tremendous weight.
“And the National Assembly, consisting of elected representatives of the Nigerian people, though not constitutionally bound by such resolutions will be hard put to ignore them in continuing the task of constitution review. But to circumvent the constitution and its provisions on how to amend it and repose sovereignty in an unpredictable mass will be too risky a gamble and may ultimately do great disservice to the idea of one Nigeria,”
Could it be that President Jonathan eventually persuaded the senate president to have a rethink in the interest of the nation? But one thing is instructive: they only gave their consent to the convocation of national conference and not sovereign conference.
Political pundits are of the view that the presidency and the National Assembly are merely playing to the gallery in view of the 2015 general elections and the wave of political crisis pervading the nation. While it is too early to put to question the sincerity of the leadership of this great nation on the matter Nigerians would be gladdened if at the end of the day the resources expended on the convocation of the national conference would be justified.
Rivers Gov’ship: Obuah Congratulates Fubara, Hails Rivers People
The Director-General of the 2023 Campaign Council of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Bro Felix Obuah, has congratulated the Governor-elect, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, on his resounding victory at the March 18, Governorship election in the State.
Bro. Obuah in his congratulatory statement commended the calm disposition and the steady mobilizing spirit of the Governor-elect throughout the electioneering campaign which endeared him the more to the electorate as demonstrated by their massive votes.
Rivers people, Bro. Obuah noted, cannot but thank God for the successful polls in the face of daunting tasks.
Bro Obuah who is also the immediate past State PDP Chairman expressed greater joy that the winning streak of his regime has continued to bear fruit in the State.
According to him, Sir Sim Fubara is another choice rightly made by the people to continue to enjoy good governance and dividends of democracy at its best which is the result of the choice of His Excellency, Chief Barr. Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in 2015 and 2019, respectively.
“I give kudos to our Rivers people for their appreciation of all the good works of our indefatigable ‘Mr. Quality Projects’ which they expressed through their massive votes for our Governor-elect and all the PDP candidates in the just concluded elections,” Bro Obuah expressed.
He said the PDP-led government in the state is spurred by the people’s gratitude and poised to do more for the people as a new political dispensation gets underway.
He thanked Governor Wike for his foresight, courage and unwavering spirit to raise the bar of political leadership in the State which is gradually taking roots in the land as a tradition.
Bro Obuah also commended the community heads, traditional rulers, women groups, religious groups, and the youths for listening to the voice of reason which contributed to making the 2023 election in the state a good one.
The Director-General of the Rivers State PDP Campaign Council also congratulated the 32 candidates of the PDP that won the 32 seats in the State House of Assembly and all National Assembly members elected on the platform of the PDP.
He said now that the elections were over, it was time for all hands to be on deck for the much desired peaceful atmosphere necessary for good governance.
He dedicated the PDP victory to all Rivers people and pledged his usual fatherly support to the leadership for a more united and better Rivers State.
Abia Gov’ship Election Result: Social Media Report Fake, Says INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has denounced an online report accusing its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu of attempts to violate its guidelines and consequently distort the Governorship election result in Abia State.
Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi said the only communication sent to the State Returning Officer was the commission’s directive suspending further collation of results.
He said; “The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu never called the Returning Officer to give her a directive. Rather, the Returning Officer wanted the official communication on the Commission’s decision to suspend the collation of results in Abia State. The Chairman then directed that pending the delivery of the hard copies, the soft copies of the Commission’s letter be forwarded immediately to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Enugu State and the Administrative Secretary of Abia State.
“The Returning Officer for Abia State then directed that the contents of the letter be read aloud by the Administrative Secretary in the presence of agents of political parties, observers, the media and security personnel at the Collation Centre.
“This is what is now being mischievously interpreted as a directive to the Returning Officer on some phantom criteria at variance with the approved guidelines. There is nothing like that.
“In fact, the content of the letter is basically the same as the Commission’s Press Release dated Monday 20th March 2023 which has since been uploaded to the Commission’s social media platforms and is already in the public domain.
“The public should disregard the story as fake news”, said Oyekanmi.
A portal, Strenuous Blog, had quoted the Returning Officer as alleging that she was being forced to do the wrong thing.
According to the portal; “The INEC Presiding Officer In Abia State Nnenna Oti had this to say…’I’m Professor Nnenna Oti from Afikpo. I am the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri, The people’s mandate shall stand. I have spent all my adult life in pursuit of the ideals of good governance. We shall stand by the these principles. The pastor in me (she is a Pastor with the RCCG) and the mother in me will not permit me to do anything that will adversely affect the future of our children. I shall do right by God and by man!’
“Then to the shock and surprise of everyone in the hall, she said that the INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu, personally called her and gave her directives on guidelines to follow in ensuring that Abia governorship election results were collated based on some criteria but that on her own she has decided that the will of Abia voters would not be subverted under her watch.
“At that point, she asked the Administrative Secretary to read the message she said that came from the INEC headquarters Abuja”.
Checks by The Tide source revealed that the commission has no such nomenclature as “State INEC Presiding Officer”.
Declare Binani Adamawa Governor-Elect, WPF Urges INEC
The Women in Politics Forum, WPF, said Nigerian women will not allow history to repeat itself in the ongoing gubernatorial election in Adamawa State.
The WPF, a non partisan organization for women with membership across the 36 states and FCT, stated this in a statement, yesterday.
The group said Nigerian women are aware that results from 20 local government areas had been collated, giving the APC gubernatorial candidate, Senator Aishatu Binani an early and consistent lead.
The WPF advised the Independent National Electoral Commision, INEC, to ensure the results are not manipulated and that Senator Binani is given her mandate and declared as the winner of the election.
In a press release signed by the National President of the women forum, Ebere Ifendu, the forum noted that there was great misconduct in the election results collation center which she said followed the refusal by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa, to collate governorship results from Fufore local government area.
Ifendu said, “We will not accept a repeat of history. In 2011, Her Excellency, Dame Pauline Tallen contested for the Plateau State Governorship election and was cruising to Victory when announcing of results suddenly stopped, and when it was finally announced, they had stolen her mandate. This was exactly the fate of Senator Aisha Al Hassan ( mama Taraba). Her victory was also stolen. We can no longer watch our collective mandate stolen from us.
“Nigerian Women have worked hard and waited patiently for this victory and woe betide that person that will be used against the wishes and aspirations of Adamawa people and Nigerian women.
“We can confirm from our agents in Adamawa State that Senator Aishatu Binani is having overwhelming lead in Fufore Local Government.
“We are aware of the manipulation going on in the state and the role of Governor fintiri who had earlier used his state powers to frustrate Senator Binani’s campaign and has further gone ahead to tamper with the figures coming from Fufore LGA;
“…which undoubtedly is Senator Binani’s strong hold ,and originally in favour of the APC candidate, and using the state INEC officials and media to fabricate stories and raising false allegations against her .
“This is a grossly condemnable act and we are raising our voices as Nigerian women to seek immediate intervention to prohibit and abort the manipulation against Senator Binani as we see this as a daylight robbery of her mandate and an affront to Nigerian Women.
“Nigerian women are calling on INEC to ensure that the results are not manipulated and that Senator Aishatu Binani is given her mandate and declared the winner of the election.
“We are also using this medium to call on security agencies to be more effective in protecting the public against attacks by political thugs.
“We have received reports of violent attacks on innocent citizens of the state. We demand that the perpetrators of violence should be arrested and prosecuted while the police is more vigilant and proactive to prevent violence.”
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