By CHRIS OCHAYI
ABUJA – The Bill to amend the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria introduced in the Senate by the Deputy Senate President and Chairman Constitution Review Committee, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; has unveiled President Goodluck Jonathan’s hidden agenda, says Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP.
CNPP which made the observation Thursday in Abuja, via a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, however, challenged the National Assembly to stop the Bill.
It could be recalled that President Jonathan during the inauguration of the National Conference hinted on the possibility of the use of referendum in ratifying the outcome of the conference.
According to him, “whereas, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) has noting against amendment or new constitution; however we frown at any move to insert a proviso for the president to initiate the process for a new constitution. This can be done by the National and State Assemblies with the present constitution.
“It our considered view that it is fundamentally against the doctrine of separation of powers espoused by French philosopher Baron de Montesquieu and checks and balances which stabilize liberal democracies.
“Secondly, the proponents of the proposal to include the president in the initiation process and not ratification process of constitutional amendment or new constitution are unwittingly constructing an imperial president, hence according to Lord Acton, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
“Let’s we forget, this is the origin of African Big Men, as President Jonathan is not going to be the last president of our dear country, therefore we must guide against the entry of a depot. History is awash with how despots play on the gullibility of the people to scuttle democracy.
“We are at a loss why Senator Ekweremadu and his cohorts did not initiate this proposal in July last year when they came up with the view that Section 9 did not make provision for how a new constitution come into being, therefore placing the cart before the horse. The insertion proposal could have been on the table before the Jonathan Conference.
“CNPP also disagrees with the provision to empower INEC to de register political parties which fail to win presidential, governorship, a chairmanship of local government area council or a seat in the national or state assembly elections.
“We stand by the provision of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on freedom of association, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the land mark judgment of the Supreme Courts on this matter.
“In sum, the National Assembly should stop the President Jonathan’s Hidden Agenda, before we swallow the dangerous bait from those who are gripped by 2015 general election phobia.
“An election they fear is a referendum on systemic and pervasive corruption of the regime. Consequently the Joint Committee of Constitution Review of the National Assembly should look elsewhere and avoid any covert plan to derail the 2015 general elections.”