By Henry Umoru, ABUJA
LEADERS of the National Consultative Front, NCF, a frontline political pressure group has given a gloomy picture of Nigeria, with a grim verdict that this House called Nigeria has fallen.
According to the group of Leaders who took a cursory look at all the aspects of Nigeria which include corruption, unemployment, weak institutions, cost of governance, marginalization of many critical interest groups and stakeholders, including the youth, women, rural people, among, Nigeria is in a state of despondency and is on the edge of total collapse, calling that all hands to be on deck as fast as quickly to save the country.
The group in a statement signed yesterday, titled, ” Open Memo: To all Nigerians Citizens of Conscience and Stakeholders, have resolved to inaugurate a new mega Political party next month, March to save Nigeria as well as mobilize for a new Peoples constitution for Nigeria as a basis for sponsoring credible candidates for the 2023 general and presidential elections.
The statement was signed by Prof. Pat Utomi, former Speaker, House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’abba; former President of Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Olisa Agbakoba, SAN; Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed; and proof Kingsley Moghalu.
Others are Dr Obadiah Mailafia, Prof Mrs Remi Sonaiya, Comrade Issa Aremu; Prof Chidi Odinkalu; Chief Precious Elekima; Arch Ezekiel Nya-Etok; Dr Tanko Yunusa and Peter Ameh.
They have also charged the government to stop heightening what they described as anarchy and Civil strife in the Country by as a matter of urgency, adopt ranching and flushing out all criminal elements from Nigeria’s forests, including Sambisa.
The group said, “Since its formation in July 2020, the National Consultative Front, NCFront has come to terms with the fact that political power is crucial to the realization of its goals and objectives for a New prosperous Nigeria, so the Front will not hesitate to seek political power to lead and govern Nigeria as a credible alternative Peoples’ movement to the two dominant political parties and their cohorts in Nigeria, but not desperately or precipitately. To this extent, we wish to state that the NCFront will not be fixated on the power politics of 2023 but rather in first mobilising Nigerians for a brand new people’s Constitution that can enable Nigeria to work for all and be rid of corruption and self-aggrandizement in politics and in government.
“The point being made here is that the ideological plan of action for our Mega Political mass Movement, now to be launched, following due consideration of the second wave of Covid 19 pandemic, by the end of March 2021, is to, first and foremost, pursue Popular Democratic CONSTITUTIONAL REWORKING and REMAKING of NIGERIA to give the country a new constitutional template that will enable it to embrace a new legitimate political structure and national legal framework that can essentially make politics less juicy, attractive and corruptive but service-oriented and values-driven for mass prosperity.
“Therefore, the new Mass Political Movement shall be expected to immediately embark on a vigorous mobilisation for a new peoples constitution for Nigeria and it is after the struggle is won by the peoples of Nigeria that the movement in form of a credible alternative mega party to the APC and PDP, shall be expected to venture into the second phase of its agenda, which shall be to present and sponsor credible candidates for electoral power, as a mega movement party and mass ideological platform for pursuing the good governance and prosperity of Nigeria.
“In other words, our emergent mass movement shall be expected to first mobilize Nigerians home and abroad for a New Nigeria through the democratic constitutional restructuring of the country before venturing into electoral power politics and this shall be a sequel to the sealing of a democratic merger and fusion of all the credible political parties and groups within the fold of the Front, (taking a cue from the advice of former INEC Chair, Prof Attahiru Jega during our national consultation on internal party democracy last year) as one indivisible formidable alternative political bloc, when the time comes. In essence, what we shall be launching is an alternative political class and credible political leadership that can step forward to lead the country any time, even in the event of any emergency.
“Again, although the ultimate aim of the NCFront is to win power to lead Nigeria, however, our various consultations and recent experiences have revealed also that without first replacing the existing warped corruptive military constitution of 1999, it may be fruitless and impolitic to engage in an electoral contest with moneybags and State captors, who have already amassed ill-gotten funds from governing the country, on the basis of money politics or highest bidder’s electoral merchandising but rather on ideology, principles, values and service to the Citizens and Electorate. So, we have resolved to mobilise Nigerians to first change the humongous and outrageous cost of contesting elections and winning electoral power in Nigeria through constitution reforms, which will also include electronic and diaspora voting, among others.
“Therefore, in the light of the ravaging Covid 19 pandemic and after due consultations, the leadership of NCFront, has decided to shift the formal launch of the planned mega mass movement, earlier scheduled to hold at the end of January 2021, now to 29th to 31st of March, 2021. This emergent movement of the people, as stated above, shall immediately after its inauguration, undertake two phases of interventions on its platform i.e to first agitate to get democratic constitution reform for the country and thereafter present credible candidates for the next elections in Nigeria. A two-prong approach to rescuing and leading our beloved country, Nigeria into stability and prosperity.
“Consequently, we shall immediately proceed to carefully work out a legal framework and procedure on how to strategically replace the self-contradictory 1999 constitution with a new legitimate people’s constitution without having to create a constitutional lacuna or pitfall for the country. In this regard, we may have to collaborate with some Eminent Jurists and Statesmen/women, among others, who have already provided substantial answers to that national constitutional question in their works on how to legitimately and legally repeal and replace 1999. However, the NCFront has also in the recent past canvased that the country can overcome possible constitutional quagmire in this regard by compelling the National Assembly, in their ongoing constitution review assignment, to amend sections 8 and 9 of the 1999 constitution; two sections, which presently take away sovereign powers over the Nigerian Constitution from the peoples and citizens of Nigeria and technically put it in the hands of their lawmakers rather than the Sovereign Peoples of Nigeria.
“Our position, therefore, is that the National Assembly, in their ongoing constitution amendment process, should without fail, provide for a Referendum clause in the two sections of the existing 1999 constitution, so as to enable Nigerian Citizens take full ownership of their Constitution as well as reclaim their inalienable constitutional Sovereignty over the country, as applicable in advanced democracies of the world.
“Finally, we wish to reiterate in unambiguous terms that we are not a group desperately out to acquire power at all cost. Therefore, we will not hesitate, if the political dynamism changes, to join hands with other similar ideological forces to create, collaborate, realign to endorse and adopt a credible alternative political party that shares our vision and objectives and passionate to give full vent and implementation to our vision, mission and programme for the redemption and prosperity of Nigeria.
On why they are troubled, the leaders said, “those who are in positions of authority do not really appreciate what leadership means. Instead of self-sacrifice for the advancement of the common good, they are enmeshed in acute narcissism, extreme self-love that leaves little or no resources to cater for the welfare of the people.
“Cost of governance and of winning elections and political power in Nigeria is outrageous and out of proportion with common sense. A comparison with prosperous countries reveals frightening relativities.
” Weak Institutions: Public service institutions have become a public disgrace in all ramifications. Nigerians go through daily pains to secure service from public institutions that have been set up to serve them. Again, when the boundaries of official conducts cannot be ascertained, people cannot anticipate the outcomes of transactions. That is the case of Nigeria right now. Whether it is the pensions of Retirees, Certificate of Occupancy and effectiveness of Land Registry in ensuring property rights, the report is negative and calls desperately for urgent sustainable change.
“Corruption: Nothing is more troubling to us than the cancer of corruption which has imperilled progress in Nigeria. Ironically, the current government rode to power on the mantra of war against corruption, yet, a simple observation of the same government today will reveal that corruption is much worse under its watch.
” Unemployment: The rate is alarmingly high and unacceptable. It creates the fertile ground for more criminality and insecurity as most Nigerians are already being subjected to. The government has shown little or no vision and creativity about job creation and the little effort to provide palliatives with government jobs and conditional cash transfers have been debased and squandered by nepotism and partisanship.
“Monumental loss of faith in the State and trust in Government is a phenomenon which leads to failure to cooperate with policy ideas. This trust deficit has led to serious political sabotage and dysfunctional governance of the country breeding socio-economic chaos and State collapse.
“Marginalisation of many critical interest groups and stakeholders, including the youth, women, rural people and ethnic nationality groups underscore the urgent imperative for justice, inclusion, equity, and fairness, such that the peoples of Nigeria can again own their country and feel patriotic.
“Nigeria’s decline into a criminal enterprise, failed State and poverty capital of the world, as both the Brookings Institution, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation studies indicated, poses a great danger to the future of all Nigerians and the entire black race as manifest in the helplessness and incapacitation of the Nigerian State in the heightening tension and civil strife foisted by the violent clashes between herders and farmers, making Nigerians resort self-help.”
On NCFront Action Plan, they said, “In view of the foregoing, NCF is flagging off national working committees on select thematic challenges of the country with a view to generating outcomes as way forward for the country. The committees will have a working brief based on terms of reference from the NCF Steering Committee.
“Constitution Drafting Committee:
Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Fr. (Dr.) George Ehusani and Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed will co-chair a 60 member Constitution Drafting Committee from across the country and stakeholder’s groups to explore the provisions of the 1963 constitution, the 1979 Constitution, the 1989 constitution, the 1995 constitution, the reports and draft constitutions of the constitutional conferences under Presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan as well as the proposed Peoples’ Constitution produced by PRONACO Peoples’ National Conference chaired by Chief Anthony Enahoro of blessed memory, among others in giving the Nigerian people a truly people’s draft constitution based on the principles of devolution of powers, political restructuring, and democratic ownership of government and the Nigerian State by the people.
“Youth Development Committee:
This committee will have 60% of its membership under the age of 40. They will be expected to identify how to extract a demographic dividend from our youth bulge and determine how to give the youth a voice in the affairs of the nation and ensure that this majority of our population does not have their human rights and property rights abused or appropriated by self-serving public authorities. We, as a People’s Front, recognise and respect the diversity and different circumstances of the different parts of our federation and the fact that while these differences make #EndSARS the issue in some parts, they make #End Banditry the issue in another part. However, it was crystal clear to us that all are united in pursuit of a better Nigeria that works for all.
“Committee on the Economy:
The committee will use the ideas of Latent Comparative Advantage to identify endowments and resources in the six geopolitical zones and suggest a path to competitiveness on the value-chains of each of those endowments that can make each zone independently prosperous. It will construct linkages that will provide synergies for those sources of independent endowment value-chains that can make Nigeria a top ten player in the economic prosperity league of the world. Our idea is also to treat local governments as Economic Development Areas and increase their economy as against their political value, to the extent that education, primary healthcare, and production clusters can be synchronized and coordinated by highly experienced Councillors like retired top executives from enterprise, professionals and civil servants as well as academics and security agency top brass in their retirements.
“Political Party Reform:
This committee shall undertake the tasks of reviewing the problems of internal party democracy as well as the purpose, ideology and modus vivendi for political parties in Nigeria, as these subjects are critical to the current stifling of the emergence of quality political leadership in the country. In this regard, the NCFront is committed to a production-oriented and value-driven form of government based on compassion for the socially disadvantaged but directing efforts towards equalization of opportunity and bringing the majority into a people’s capitalism of SME owners, as NCF has committed itself into forging a coalition between the rural farmers, NEPU-type of artisans, the administrative class, and the centre-left intellectuals. We believe this is the coalition that will bring productivity, prosperity and social harmony to Nigeria.
NCF, therefore, aspires to become a Movement of the Centre-left progressives with conservative values built around the dignity of the human person, liberty, human solidarity and the principle of subsidiarity. An ideology proceeding therefrom will shape our new movement manifesto and political culture in Nigeria going forward.
“Policing: This is a committee to be charged with making policing local, with collaboration between traditional policing and community policing, but one in which human and property rights issues are escalated to states and federal levels.
“Foreign Policy: A committee to ensure that Africa is the centre-piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy as expressed in support of ACFTA Agreement across borders and the respect for all Africans in which democracy is not abused by seat-tight leaders.
“Health Care & Education: This committee will interrogate constitutional appropriation or responsibility for healthcare and education, as we are more inclined to move both health care and Education to the concurrent list with Primary health care situated in local government, Secondary health care in the state and Tertiary care made concurrent for both state and federal governments. For the present worrisome state of Nigeria is largely the result of poor investment in the education and well being of the youth and in social infrastructure and the awful management of our Health and Education Sectors.
“National Unity and Equity: This a committee to dissect how we lost the ability to reflect on the delicate balancing of sensitivities and interests in a multiple nationality federation such as Nigeria. Even when in the First Republic, the politics of precarious balancing was attributed to the governmental policy of Former Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa.
NCFront, therefore, remains committed to creating a new political class and leadership sensitive to this national balancing as well as the culture of ensuring equity and sensitivity to traditional interests, while building up unifying national ethos. For instance, rather than recommend the controversial grazing reserves/RUGA for Herders across the country, the government will do well by adopting and encouraging modern Ranches for cattle rearing in Nigeria to stop pervasive violent clashes between farmers and herders and also to be able to isolate criminal elements, who are though without cattle, operate under the guise of cattle pastoralism to take over Nigeria’s Forests and Bushes to inflict banditry harm and extortion on unsuspecting innocent citizens, a situation, which today has pushed our beloved country to the precipice of another civil war.”