By Tony Edike
ENUGU—THE Igbo Leaders of Thought led by foremost constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze, yesterday, reaffirmed its position that unless the ongoing national conference fashioned a people’s constitution that would be ratified by a referendum, the desire for the transformation of the country would not be realised.
Professor Nwabueze told journalists in Enugu that the two strategic interests Ndigbo intended to achieve at the conference, which are the adoption of zonal structure for the country and the question of the right of self-determination, were shut down by northern delegates.
He said the meeting reviewed the current security situation in the country, especially the menace of Boko Haram insurgents and the indication that they were infiltrating the South-East and entire Southern part of the country, and resolved to set up a committee to seek ways of handling the situation.
Professor Nwabueze said: “The outcome of today’s meeting is the reaffirmation of our cause; the objective of the Igbo leaders of thought.
“Our objective is the transformation of Nigeria into a new better and united country. That is what we set out to do from the beginning.
“Secondly, we reaffirmed again our position that the objective cannot be achieved without a people’s constitution and by a people’s constitution, we mean a constitution adopted at a national conference and ratified or approved at a referendum of all the peoples of this country.
“Thirdly, we note that what is going on at the National Conference is not designed to achieve this objective.
“We noted the fact of the rowdy session at the conference over the alleged fake draft constitution said to be smuggled into the assembly and that the secretariat was lobbying some northern delegates to support the adoption of this fake draft constitution. As far as we are concerned, this is a pity; a tragedy.”
New federal structure
On the expectations of Ndigbo from the national conference, Nwabueze said: “We also noted that perhaps the two strategic interests of Ndigbo which we are hoping to achieve through the national conference is the zonal structure of the Nigerian federation, that is the creation of six or more zones in the country.
“With the existing 36 states being retained as part of the federal structure, a kind of federation upon federation is had with the 36 states as the basic federating units retaining their powers under the existing constitution.
“At the zonal government, there will be six or more of them and then the Federal Government. ”
Nwabueze disclosed that yesterday’s meeting approved the appointment of Professor Chiweyite Ejike, former Vice Chancellor of Anambra State University of Science and Technology, ASUTHEC, now Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT, Enugu, as the Deputy Chairman of Igbo Leaders of Thought.
He will work with Professor Mike Echeruo as Co-Chairman to pilot the affairs of the body.
The meeting was attended by Eze Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike, Col Emma Nwobosi, Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa, Justice G. U. Ononiba, Prof. G. C. Ezeugwu, Prof. Ike Oluka, Prof. Elo Amucheazi, Prof Lawrence Ocho, Mrs. Maria Okwor, Dr. Emeka Ilouno, Prof. Chiweyite Ejike and Prof Uche Azikiwe.
Others were Obi of Onitsha, Obi Alfred Achebe, Bishop Obi Onubogu, Chief Debe Odimegwu-Ojukwu, Dr. Aja Nwachukwu, Prince Emeka Onyesoh, Evangelist Eliot Uko, Prof. Ben Obumselu, Senator Anyim Ude, Chief Enechi Onyia and Major Godfrey Onefuru