By WILLIAM JIMOH
The Obafemi Awolowo Foundation, OAF, has commended President Goodluck Jonathan over his decision to organise a national dialogue, stating however, that there should be no ‘no-go’ areas in the course of this national discourse.
The Foundation also stated that the conference should address true federalism as established by the founding fathers, with emphasis on granting the federating units room to develop competitively at their own pace.
The Foundation in a communique issued at the end of its executive leadership seminar on the national conference, also stated that the fact that people are not restricted will enhance frankness of discussions, as well as greater acceptability and respectability of the conference outcome.
The communique signed by Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, and Dr Olatokunbo Awolowo- Dosumu, chairman and convener respectively, also stated that the present state structure should be re-configured to more manageable and sustainable units, while the outcome of the conference should address and lay appropriate emphasis on the needs and aspirations of the Nigerian people.
Other members of the OAF are: Mr. Femi Adesina, Professor Ayandiji Daniel Aina, Professor Princewill Alozie, Professor Bolaji Aluko, Dr. Chris Asoluka, Professor Bukar Bukarambe, Mrs. Ayo Obe, Professor Ayo Olukotun, Dr Tunde Oseni, Professor Akin Oyebode, Professor Itse Sagay and Alhaji Yerima Shettima.
The group also gave other recommendations which include, “that the conference delegates should not be more than 400 members constituted 90 per cent by electoral colleges from ward, local government, state and zonal levels on the basis of non-partisan.
“However, nominations for such elections can be made from outside the membership of the electoral colleges;10 percent nominees of professional bodies, trade unions, civil society organizations, youths/students, women and pan-Nigerian religious bodies.
“The duration of the conference should not be more than nine months while the draft constitution so produced shall be subject to a national referendum no later than three months after the end of the conference.
The group expressed support for the convocation of the conference, saying that, “Since there is a perception that the Nigerian people were not directly involved in the preparation and adoption of the present constitution, there is a need for a national conference, given the fact that Nigeria is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious country with diverse interests.
Continuing, the Foundation said, “The majority of Nigerians are limited on critical issues of survival, contrary to the assumption of the political elite. Consequently, the mismanagement of the economy and the fortunes of Nigeria are a siege on defenceless citizens, irrespective of their origin or abode.
“Nigerian federalism, in its distributive mode, is dysfunctional, counter-productive and lacking in innovation.
“Some of the critical issues facing the Nigerian state include revenue derivation, devolution of power, minority rights, security, state police, census and local government autonomy.
“While acknowledging the understandable fear that Nigeria should not be dismembered, there is an urgent need to revalidate the political system in a way that gives autonomy to the sub-national governments and promotes accountability.
“The convocation of a national conference is capable of contributing significantly towards the creation of a viable Nigerian polity.