Yesterday’s proceedings centered on the process of arriving at decision at the proposed National Conference. So far, we have examined the issues arising from the need to hold a national dialogue, the injustice that have been perpetuated by the fraudulent process of constitution making in Nigeria and the looming danger of insisting on the existing status quo. In this concluding part of this edition, the participants examine the issue of national security and Nigeria progress beyond 2015.
Barr. Tony Nnadi
I am telling you that it is on the basis of that fraud that three million barrels of crude oil are being sold everyday in Nigeria and the money is being shared by those who have declared themselves owners of the country.
They put an accounting system that make the entire content of the treasury their private possession; they put immunity so that none of us can question them; they have put us in a formation of 36 states.
Part of what they did in that 1977 was that the Constituent Assembly had changed so many things that were written in that document because they were after the debate. They did not want states that were created in 1967 to be retained; they did not want presidential system. In fact, there were so many things that they did not want of which the interview showed some of them. He even talked about parliamentary system of government.
So at the end of September 1978, Obasanjo who was the Head of State, had to do the bidding, of the Constituent Assembly. So, the 1979 constitution did not come from the people of Nigeria. To tell you what one amendment can achieve, the country wanted parliamentary system , but one amendment changed it to presidential system, which is still bleeding us to death.
The Land Use Act wouldn’t have made that constitution if the Constituent Assembly were to be asked. We lost our federalism at the point the federating regions lost their autonomy. States were now created by the center, a long list of exclusive items that only the federal government can do are now loaded in the constitution so that not only had not the minority become the political majority by the number of states and council areas that they created, they also took 72 per cent of content of the treasury as their right. They are in control of key developmental in dices.
For instance, if you want electricity, only the center can provide it for you. If you want road, only the center can do it for you. There are 68 items like that. So we are where we are in because we have left what we should have been doing to be doing the opposite. And for someone like Prof. Ben Nwabueze to advocate the same process of constitution making is a shame. I begin to see people like him in the National Assembly, who have this terrible idea of being the custodian of our sovereignty. I want to say that they are going to learn on the streets in the coming days that they are not the custodians of anybody’s sovereignty. That is how bad the situation is.
Elder Fred Agbeyegbe
My message is that the land and ethnic national that was in existence in 1914 when Lugard joined this place together, should be the basis for the selection of representations to the National Dialogue. that is to say there is not going to be any pirate national ethnic who suddenly comes to say I am an ethnic nationality of Nigeria and I want to have a right of discussion because they are approximating lands resources that are not his to himself, the sovereign owners are the people who are coming to talk and if you do it like that, there would be no room for any body cheating anybody or anybody influencing anybody.
Now when those basic decisions have been reached in all of those groups the issue of referendum that we are talking about, we must realise that we are not going to be in a position where we do not have the infrastructure or what it takes to hold a national referendum without the federal government coming into it because of the amount of money, time, effort and resources it would take.
The referendum that should be held must be at the levels at which basic decisions are been reached. For example, as the time the Itsekiri stock within themselves, nobody was likely to cheat anybody. By the time they talk with their two neighbours, the Ijaws and the Urhobos, it is their representative that will talk.
When they have reached their decision, they would bring those decisions back to each of the ethnic nationalities involved in that decision making process , the referendum takes place there and then that is to say to make sure that Agbeyegbe who was sent by the Itsekiri did not sell out on the interest of the Itsekiri . They will on their own have a referendum, agreeing or disagreeing with what I brought back from my interaction with my immediate contiguous ethnic nationalities.
The same would happen when you get to that stage two after all other groups have agreed to go together and come up with a federating unit, who ever is involve representation wise in reaching those decisions must be given an opportunity in a referendum to say YES or NO. by the time it gets to the top-most position where you are federating, everybody in that structure would have had a say on the matter and that is part of the sovereignty that we are talking about.
So there would be no need therefore to have a national referendum which anybody can influence, either bribing people or what have you. The other involvement of the government of course is that we have a center treasure as I speak. All the cost item have to be made available to the United Nations group and the committees that is to be set up in accordance with this modalities that I have here by each ethnic nationalities themselves to make sure that there is no hitches in carrying out this modalities.
After that everybody who would have had a right of say on any issue in the matter would have spoken through nationalities. Anybody who is an expert who is a professional expert or technically expert comes from one ethnic nationalities or the other.
No matter your professional field, if your ethnic nationality does not chose you and put you for participating in this process, you have no business at the national conference because it is the use of experts that has brought us to where we are today.
I am a legal practitioner but I am first and foremost an Itsekiri man. If my people does not nominate me to the conference I have no business going there. When it is time to federate the federating units at the upper most level where all the other states constitution would have been in place.
It is a natural process that those who would draft the constitution will be elected and nominated by the federating units themselves and they are not going to create a new will. They are not going to make a constitution out of the constitution of all the other federating units which would be there in their hands as at the time they start to write it.
So there is no magic about it, there is no monopoly of knowledge that entitles anybody to take the right of the other man and sit over it.
A typical example of it was the presentation of the Ijaws in Calabar in which they have said and I have a map here which they gave to the committee.
It is a map of the lower Niger as at 1885 to1906, that is before 1914. this map exhibit what I am telling you. If you look at it am not saying that am accepting it like they are but it s makes a crucial point for me. You will not see Isoko on this map. There was nothing call Isoko in 1914, Isoko is part of Urhobo nationality as at 1914. they became Isoko by their own making in my life time because I was not born in 1914, I was born much later.
You will also find out that there is nothing called Ikwerre. They occupy those lands now, it is their own, they occupy them as part of known nationalities who were there in 1914. so my process is not necessary depriving them of their land. They are just a sub-group of a group by another name and I am saying that any ethnic nationalities that comes out from what was known in 1914 can not be land owning in this country and therefore has no right to come and be determining how the resources on any land is going to be shared
Moderator: But that would create conflict because an Isoko man will say he has been excluded.
Elder Fred Agbeyegbe: No. you misunderstood me. I said the Isoko man’s land is there and the land belongs to him but as at 1914 that’s the only reason why his name is there he was not answering Isoko. So he works out his own arrangements within the Uhrobo’s who were known as at the time, that’s all..
Moderator: Mr. Ambah am free to come to you. Nigeria is a country of NOW! NOW!! We also see an interesting time that an Ijaw man who is a minority group in the presidency and suddenly the entire country is in turmoil. But how can we redress the issues. These modalities out lined by Elder Agbeyegbe are they achievable within the frame work or time frame available Can we achieve this in the life time of this presidency?
Ambah: Thank you very much. A lot has been said about this issue particularly the technicalities in making this national dialogue work has been said by a lot of person here. But the most important thing we must border ourselves with is the life of Nigeria. Do we want Nigeria to survive or we want Nigeria to die? We actually want Nigeria to survive as a child, a youth or an adult. We must do things that would make that child or adult to survive but if we do things that would make the child to die, there would be no Nigeria and we will not be talking about Nigeria tomorrow.
This 100 years amalgamation treaty is coming to an end come December 31, 2013 and that is why it is most important at this time for us to talk because anything after 31, 2013 is on a temporary ground. The president would be a temporary president of this country, National Assembly would be an Assembly of the country on a temporary base, everybody would be a Nigerian on a temporary bases.
So, any action that is taken after 31 of December 2013 would come to stand still because from that point Nigeria would be standing on nothing that is the believe and I want to assure you that the opinion back home believe that come December 31, 2013 Nigeria would expire. Anybody can take any action.
So if the president dim it fits to organise a conference as a way forward, I think it is of the best interest of Nigerians equally for those people that want Nigerians to be together to live peacefully together, now is the best time and that is the way I look at it.
Another thing again is that for those that are feeling that the process would be cumbersome and the time would be not be enough for us to go into that, we should not dialogue, we should go into 2015 election so that we would operate on the present structure, I think those people are making a grieve mistake. Come December 31, 2013 a lot of things would happen and it is only this national dialogue that would put some of those things on hold because it is better to talk than to keep fry so that people would reach an agreement.
If there is a talk, people are going to wait for the out come of the talk whether it is beneficial or not. So even if we spend one year, two, three to four years to dialogue so long as we come out with something meaningful that everybody would call their own, I think it is better to go that way. If we do not want to take that and say that election is coming in 2015 and so we should not dialogue, of course we are heading to somewhere.
And if that is the point people are talking about, we are heading for the consequences come 2015.
Moderator: Mr. Marsah I have to seek you own view.
Mr. Marsah: I think what I see is that President Goodluck Jonathan is the only man that wants to see Nigerians live together in peace. Why do I say that? Every effort at convying a national conference has never been supported by government. It has never even been initiated by government. Rather what government does is to put scanners at work. When Enahoro started it, he tried to convey people some where in Lagos but the government came up with one programme to make sure that it does not see the light of the day.
But Goodluck this time took it upon himself saying that “We have what it takes to make this thing works so why don’t we do it”
So to me he has the best of intentions for the country. What about time? Time is not an issue in this case. Why do I say that? Take a que from what happened in Anambra state that people are now shouting and now calling all the heavens to come down. In Anambra election that was held, it was held base on the present constitution and the present legal system which we are against. And if we want to still rely on this same system, this legal frame work that is on ground to hold 2015 election, your guess is as good as mine-blood would flow.
So for me time is not the issue. Let us start to talk base on ethnic nationalities and the process and modalities provided by Elder Fred Agbeyegbe, we would arrive at some where and once we arrive at some where everybody would become very nationalistic towards the Nigeria state. But for now we are all looking at ourselves as people from different countries. If we have about 300 nationalities, we will see ourselves as 300 countries because everybody wants to have a say and think of his own nationalities before any other place.
Therefore, going about it right now is the most beautiful thing one can do or the government can do and the Nigeria people can do and already we on our own part (The Ijaw people) we have anticipated this and articulated reaching out to every nationalities before this time. Fortunately we have like minds and that is why we have keyed into the lower Niger Congress and even to the Movement of New Nigeria so that we all come up with a similar idea that we have to present them in a national forum, that is our program.
As far as we are concern, it is very timely that we must go into this national dialogue. Let us free ourselves from this several states that we are tie into, several states that are debarring our progress. We only woke up to see them. Local government, States, Zones these are all created for administrative convenience. You create a local government in my place and make somebody else the chairman, why wont I fight you.
So if we go back to the basis, we start to talk and agree, I would be very comfortable as to who now takes what unlike the present situation where we have argument everywhere and perceive oppression and slavery. All these things would be things of the past if we sit down to talk. So for me Goodluck has started very well, 100 years of amalgamation has come to nothing everything is retrogressive we want to move forward. Let us give him the support, on our part, we have our own concept of moving forward we want to bring it to the table.