BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE & VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
National Chairman of The Patriots, Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN, has written President Goodluck Jonathan, asking to be excused from the 13-man Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue, which will be inaugurated today.
Writing from his hospital bed in London, Nwabueze said he would be away for sometime and hence might not be available for the one-month exercise that Senator Femi Okurounmu will lead. He consequently nominated legal icon, Chief Solomon Asemota, SAN, to replace him in the committee.
In a two-paragraph letter to President Jonathan dated October 2, which Vanguard got yesterday, Nwabueze wrote: “I am presently in London for medicals and may be away from Nigeria for some time.
“I will be glad if I could be replaced in the Presidential Advisory Committee on national dialogue/conference by Mr. Solomon Asemota, SAN who is a member of The Patriots.”
Nwabueze, 83, is an erudite constitutional lawyer, who had taken part in the making of the 1979 Constitution and many constitutions in Africa. His input would have helped the panel greatly in its assignment.
Nwabueze’s letter came as The Patriots commended President Jonathan for taking steps to organize the national conference before the 2015 polls just as the Trade Union Congress, TUC, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) tasked the advisory panel on a thorough job.
An epochal event — The Patriots
The Patriots, in a congratulatory letter signed by Nwabueze, said: “We write to congratulate Your Excellency for the indisputable bold step you have taken towards ensuring that a National Conference is convoked before 2015.
The Patriots regard this development as epochal and reaffirms the support which we conveyed to you on the occasion of our visit on August 29.. It is our fervent hope that nothing would be allowed to stand in the way during the preparation for and execution of the National Conference that would finally bring every Nigerian into the mainstream of governance.”
It‘ll restore sanity in Nigeria—APGA
In like manner, APGA saluted the president for approving national confab and raising the Okurounmu committee to fashion out the modalities.
In a statement by the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, through his Special Assistant (Media), Mr. Stan Okeke, the party stated that there was no more auspicious time than now for the convocation of a National Conference, pointing out that the unconstitutional actions of some desperate politicians were responsible for the crisis rocking the country.
According to Chief Umeh, the ignoble actions of these politicians are very grave threats to the corporate existence of Nigeria as a united country, recalling that APGA, for so many years in the past, called for a National Conference as the only way out of the logjam facing the country.
Confab must keep Nigeria one—TUC
On its part, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, yesterday, said while it supports the proposed confab in view of the myriad of challenges facing the country, it must be convened and conducted in way to keep Nigeria united.
In a statement by its President and Secretary General, Bobboi Kaigama and Musa Lawal TUC contended that each of the constituents of the Nigerian polity should have equitable representation at the Conference and delegates should be allowed to speak their minds freely and candidly
“While the Congress commends the calibre of most of the people that have so far been chosen to be members of the Conference Advisory Committee, we also feel that it is important the organised labour (TUC and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) be involved. We advise all such persons and the would-be delegates not to denigrate or digress from the key issues and to relate harmoniously with one another. As Nigerians they must work together to achieve the common goal of our cohesion and collective development.
Not yet time for celebration —IYM
Also speaking, the President of IYM, Evangelist Elliot Uko, said it is not yet time to celebrate President Jonathan’s approval of national conference. “The IYM would like to declare that the convening of a national conference does not call for jubilation, rather the finished document adopted in a referendum would call for joy, that eventually, Nigeria has finally survived, there is a world of difference between now that the road map committee has just been set up and when the debated and adopted new constitution and acceptable structure is agreed upon by the many nationalities that make up this great country.
“In between is a testy period of the conference proper, the heated disagreements that would invariably occur, the mischief of sections who don’t mean well for the country, the arrogance of oppressors and the sincerity of compatriots who want a truly great Nigeria to emerge from the ashes of his wobbly and sick colonial edifice. It would call for patience, tolerance, understanding, sacrifice and respect for one another, most importantly the conference periods calls for prayers for our dear country.”
Noting that the period of the dialogue calls for sober reflection and sincere prayers for the survival of the country, Uko commended President Jonathan for his vision and fore sight, adding that “if this conference eventually succeeds in giving every section, a sense of belonging and also reduce the tension and bitterness currently ruling the land, than Jonathan would have emerged as the father of modern Nigeria.”
Stressing the need for the conference, he said from the outcome of an opinion poll conducted by IYM in South-East, Nigerians are disillusioned.
“IYM sent out 6000 questionnaires among the clergy, civil servants, traders, students etc. of the 4826 respondents say, corruption, lack of unity and greed among the political class topped issues plaguing the nation.
“Nigerians expressed disappointment with the present unitary structure which encourages corruption and voiced preference for a reversal to six regions. The poll which held in August through September 2013 also revealed that most Nigerians want a strong and united country, where justice and equity reigns,” he said.