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Northern Elders Reject National Conference, Seek Parliamentary System Of Government

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IMAGE: Ango Abdullahi - Prof - Spokemans for the Northern Elders Forum »



Northern leaders under the aegis of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) have condemned the introduction of national conference as proposed by Goodluck Jonathan, insisting that the conference will not address the problems of the country as it is a strategy devised for the actualisation of the president’s 2015 ambition.

Speaking to selected journalists yesterday in Bauchi, the spokesman of the forum, Prof Ango Abdullahi, stated that several conferences held in the country in the past years to surmount the political problems had failed woefully. He added that, for the nation to correct its numerous mistakes and lapses, it should revive the parliamentary system of government as practised in the defunct First Republic.

Abdullahi said, “If conference, conversation, dialogue is necessary in addition to so many that we had from 1914 to date, then, what conversation are you going to hold that is different from the numerous ones that we had?”

The former vice-chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, who insisted that the problem of the nation started way back in 1976 when the military decreed a presidential system of government, lamented that the system is more expensive and corrupt, citing instance with the recent illegal purchase of N255 million bulletproof cars for the minister of aviation, Ms Stella Oduah, without being sanctioned by the authority. According to Abdullahi, such corrupt practices are rare in the parliamentary system of government.

He said, “I have always argued that the parliamentary system of government is cheaper. The presidential system of government, from our investigation recently, is four to five times more expensive than the parliamentary system of government.’’

According to the elder statesman, the country would have been more progressive, had the parliamentary system of government been sustained since independence.It is more accountable to the electorate as a minister or commissioner must first be elected as a member of the parliament and, as such, the people at the grass roots could challenge his performance, he said.

 “So, I will argue strongly that the first constitution amendment that Nigeria should be talking about is the Nigerians to decide whether to go back to the parliamentary system of government and abandon the presidential system of government because the presidential system is corruption-prone and expensive.”

Buttressing his point further, the spokesman of the NEF queried: “How can you go and buy two cars for N255 million? Can you believe this in a disciplined parliamentary system for a minister without a debate in the parliament to buy this kind of facility for an individual? It can only happen under this kind of system.’’

The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has also rejected the proposed national dialogue, describing it as diversionary and unacceptable. The party said it preferred an all-embracing constitution amendment.

The party’s position, which was made known at the end of a meeting of the interim National Executive Committee on Tuesday, is coming two weeks after a national leader of the party and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, described the national dialogue proposal as a Greek gift.

The national vice-chairman of the APC in the North-East zone, Alhaji Umar Duhu, also reiterated his party’s position on the proposed national dialogue, saying Nigeria at present needs only good governance and not a confab as proposed by the ruling PDP government.

The APC chieftain, in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP FRIDAY yesterday, said the conference is ill-conceived and diversionary, adding that, if allowed to hold, it would yield no benefit, given the experiences of the past during the reign of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He added that the decision to even subject the resolutions of the said conference to the National Assembly for moderation and approval makes it look “suspect”.

As the APC rejected the confab, governors Muazu Aliyu of Niger State and Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State, both of the dissident G-7 and the splinter new PDP, however, expressed contrasting opinions on the matter. While Aliyu had said the North is ready for the confab, Kwankwaso on Wednesday during a visit to neighbouring Jigawa State governor Sule Lamido called the exercise a waste of time.


Confab committee on consultation tours

Despite the opposition to the national dialogue from some quarters, the Presidential Advisory Committee saddled with coming up with modalities for the organisation of the dialogue has already begun consultations with Nigerians across the six geopolitical zones.

According to the committee, Nigerians in each of the zones would have the opportunity to interact with it on two occasions as it has drawn up its schedule to allow for town hall meetings in two states in each of the six geopolitical zones.

The interface which began in Akure, Ondo State, on Friday, October 18, is expected to end on November 11 with a parley with the residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The Okunroumu-led committee has so far visited other states and institutions like Niger, Plateau states and the leadership of the National Assembly.


Wamakko appoints 32-member committee for National Confab

Meanwhile, Sokoto State governor Aliyu Wamakko yesterday named a 32-member committee to represent the state at the proposed national dialogue.

A statement by the senior special assistant to the governor on media, Mr Sani Umar, in Sokoto said that the committee would be led by a former minister of youth development, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir.

The statement urged the committee to consult with various stakeholders and people of the state to evaluate their opinions.

It said that the committee should also submit a memorandum on behalf of people of the state to the federal government.

Other members of the committee are Mr Nuhu Adamu, commissioner for justice; Malam Dahiru Maishanu, commissioner of solid minerals; Alhaji Mohammad Ahmed and Dr Mohammad Arzika, a former minister of communications.

Others are Sen. Bello JibrilGada, former minister of culture, tourism and national orientation; as well as Prof. Riskuwa Shehu, vice chancellor of the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto.

The rest are Alhaji UsmanBalkore, Mr Abdullahi Waziri, Prof. Gajam Ardo, Alhaji Ahmed Gusau,  a former deputy governor of the state, Prof. Malami Buba; Prof. Sambo Wali, Alhaji Abubakar Namadina, chairman of ALGON in Sokoto State, Alhaji Tambari Tafida; Sen. Salihu Bakwai, Alhaji Tukur Alkali and Alhaji Rilwalu Bello, among others.

The clerk of the state House of Assembly, Alhaji Mohammadu Mainasara, is to serve as the secretary while  Malami Ladan is to serve  as co-secretary.


National dialogue recommendations should not be sent to NASS – Ozekhome

Also, Lagos lawyer and human rights activist Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) has pleaded with the federal government to declare amnesty for kidnappers.

The legal practitioner was recently kidnapped by gunmen in Edo State and was held captive for about 21 days.

The human rights lawyer, who addressed a press conference in Abuja yesterday, said what the country needs at the moment is a complete sovereign national conference and not a national dialogue.

He said the recommendations of the national dialogue should not be sent to the National Assembly to whittle down.

“Amnesty should be declared for kidnappers. When I was in their custody, I asked them if they would be willing to drop their arms if they were granted and they said if FG would assure them that they would not be arrested or killed, they were ready to drop their weapons.

“Peace will return to the country if they negotiate with them. Negotiating with them is not a sign of weakness on the part of the government. What we have in the country today is the peace of the graveyard,” he said.

On the national dialogue, he said the country needs to practise federalism the way it should be practised.

He said the federating units of the country need powers to address their peculiar problems.

He said, “Each Nigerian holds more allegiance to his tribe than the country itself. We never really sat down to say that we want to be together like the Americans did. The federating units of the country need powers to address their peculiar needs. The Nigerian federation is lopsided. The name of the country was imposed on us, it is not indigenous.

“The 1999 Constitution was imposed on us; we have never had referendum in this country. The national dialogue should have been a sovereign national conference. The recommendations of the dialogue should not be sent to the National Assembly to whittle down.”

By: Najib Sani, Kunle Olasanmi, Bode Gbadebo, Adah Abah, Chikelu Chinelo, Ankeli Emmanuel on October 25, 2013

Article Credit: Leadership

Updated 5 Years ago

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