BEVERLY HILLS, May 2, (THEWILL) – As a means of resolving the challenges confronting the country, former delegates to the 2014 National Conference on Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to immediately set machineries in motion to implement the report of the 2014 National Conference.
The delegates, who met under the auspices of Forum of Delegates of the 2014 National Conference, vowed to apply several strategies to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the conference, including getting the citizens to demand from political parties and their candidates their positions on the implementation of the report.
Chairman of the Planning Committee, Mr. John Dara, stated that the conference delegates felt it is timely to engage members of the executive and the legislature in fruitful dialogue to ensure that the conference report is utilised for constitutional amendment.
Addressing the gathering at a meeting in Abuja, Chairman of the Forum, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, said the meeting was a private initiative of the former conference delegates to try and devise means of encouraging the implementation of the recommendations of the conference.
He said the conference report was divided into three categories, including policy matters, issues relating to legislative enactment and matters requiring constitutional amendments.
Yakassai stated that the aspect of the conference recommendations that requires urgent attention is that dealing with constitutional amendment, adding that the National Assembly should use the opportunity of the ongoing constitutional amendment to utilise the report of the 2014 conference.
Delivering a keynote address at the meeting, one of the delegates to the 2014 National Conference, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN said the present All Progressives Congress, APC, administration must not take Nigeria’s unity and indivisibility for granted by refusing to embrace ideas and suggestions that would bring about an acceptable federal structure for the country.
He said, “The simple answer is that we need to go back to the pre-January 1966 true fiscal federalism. The over 600 recommendations of the distinguished Nigerian patriots, men, women and the youth, from all works and strata of life of 2014 National Conference must be immediately retrieved from the archives where they are gathering dust and spider cobwebs by this government, put on the front burner, and utilised meticulously for the purpose of re-engineering, retooling and reformatting this Nigerian contraption that is still not working.”
Ozekhome described the present constitution of 1999 as a creation of the military Decree No 24 of 1999, adding that it is not a peoples’ constitution; does not enjoy the Nigerian peoples’ mandate, and so lacks legitimacy.
Meanwhile, conference delegates from the South-west by the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae said the Yorubas might insist on a new federal constitution as a basis for the conduct of the next general election in 2019.
A leading member of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, the Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said the Yorubas have never departed from its belief in fiscal federalism as the best solution to the several problems facing the conference.
Odumakin, who said he was speaking the minds of other leaders from the South-west, said there are serious indications for the zone that the people want “the 2019 elections conducted on the basis of a new and truly federal constitution”.
He observed that many of the issues threatening the country corporate existence today would have become a thing of the past if the government had implemented the report of the conference.
“We therefore call on the executive arm of the government to initiate the process for the National Assembly to pick the 2014 conference report submitted to the immediate past legislative session for immediate implementation,” he said.
Odumakin reasoned that many of the problems presently plaguing the country would have been resolved if the report of the National Conference was implemented.
He urged the National Assembly to immediately take the lead in setting in motion the process for the implementation of the report by including it in the ongoing Constitution amendment.
The Afenifere chieftain averred that the South-West can only participate in the 2019 general elections if there is a new and truly federal constitution.