Concerned political leaders drawn across various political parties under the aegis of National Consultative Fronts (NCF) on Tuesday called on all former presidents, heads of states, National Assembly presiding officers to convene with the view to save Nigeria from anarchy and unwanted civil war as well as to direct the country’s endowments toward erecting a truly prosperous and harmonious nation.
The group also urged all political parties, politicians and political support groups to suspend forthwith all campaigns and ambitions for 2023 elections should for now take the backstage, as well as all political activities that are not geared towards stemming the tide of insecurity and moving the country to normalcy.
The clarion call was contained in a communiqué read by its leader, Dr Olu Agunloye, after the emergency national intervention meeting of leaders of conscience in Nigeria held in Abuja, which was jointly signed by former Speaker of the 5th session of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ghali Umar Na’abba; Prof. Pat Utomi and Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed.
Other stakeholders who attended the high-powered meeting include former presidential candidates, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu and Oby Ezekwesili; Okey Nwosu, Buba Galadima, former Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko; Nagatu Mohammed, Senator Grace Bent, among others.
The group also urged all government agencies and functionaries and politicians to shelve all political activities towards 2023 election preparations and timelines, noting that the socio-political landscape has been fast deteriorating and the spirit of sectionalism has spread across Nigeria coupled with internal revolts and separationism have reached an advanced stage.
While calling for urgent need to facilitate a credible alternative peoples’ movement capable of saving and rescuing Nigeria from insensitive and self-serving politicians, they canvassed that all power politics of 2023 should be downplayed to focus the effective mobilisation of Nigerians towards national cohesion and stability through a popular process of national consultations capable of facilitating new people’s constitution.
While expressing grave concern over the “fragile state of Nigeria,” Dr Agunloye explained that the group convened to review the current Nigerian situation with intention of creating hope and strategies for restoring sanity, harmony, and stability to our country to halt the slide into dangers of anarchy and civil war.
According to him, members of the Front also reached a “consensus that Nigeria has manifested inability of the government to protect the citizens or prevent pervasive scale violence and emergent insurgencies. The country is confronted with multiple internal insurrections, ethnic divisions and strife, and separationist agitations in all the six geopolitical zones of the country.”
They also underscored the need for amendment of the current Electoral Act which they described as “critical and crucial to foster just and justiciable democratic process and to create faith and trust in the leadership.
“The initiative will pursue popular democratic constitutional resetting and remaking of Nigeria to give the country a new popular constitutional template that will provide the Nigeria peoples with a new political structure and national legal framework that can essentially make politics less violent and less corruptible but service-oriented and values-driven for mass prosperity.”
In the bid to save Nigeria, they resolved to “fight for the independence of the judiciary and legislature for the Executive arm especially the governors can confine selves to basic functions and all arms can do their jobs efficiently and effectively.
“That to save Nigeria, we must unite as Nigerians and negotiate. That to save Nigeria, we must go back to the people and people-centred programmes, activities and operations based on the principles of social justice.”
In the bid to achieve its set objectives, they resolved to engage and interface with relevant authorities, including the Nigerian presidency and the leadership of the National Assembly to impress on them the will and yearning of Nigerians for a new Nigeria that works for all and to bridge growing gaps and deficits in faith and trust between government and ordinary Nigerians to prevent political sabotage and total breakdown of law and order.
They also urged Federal Government and the National Assembly to appropriately use the ongoing constitution amendment process not only to douse tension but to cause amendments that will cause short term peace solutions and provide for Referendum/Constituents’ Assembly in Sections 8 and 9 of the existing 1999 constitution, without fail, to enable Nigerian citizens a leeway to taking full ownership of their Constitution as well as allow them to exercise their inalienable constitutional sovereignty over the country.
In the bid to deepen its reach, the Front resolved to set up a citizen’s driven national consultations under the newly initiated Coordinating Committee of People’s Constitutional Dialogue being anchored by Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Dr Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu, Prof Attahiru Jega, Fr. (Dr.) George Ehusani, Dr Usman Bugaje, Chief (Dr) Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Sen Mike Ajegbo, Hadjia Najatu Mohammed, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, Barr Femi Falana, SAN, Prof Kingsley Moghalu, and Prof Pat Utomi in a 60-member committee to explore people-led, process-driven national consultations and dialogue in building national understanding and stability in its task to facilitate a truly democratic people’s constitution for the country based on the principles of justice, fairness and equity.
“That a National Equity and Unity Committee under the joint leadership of Dr Olu Agunloye, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Prof Kingsley Moghalu, Hon Dosunmu-Awolowo, Dr Olisa Agbakoba, Arch Eyo Etok, Dr Oby Ezekwelesi, Chief Peter Ameh, Chief Precious Elekima, Tanko Yunusa, Chief Olawale Okunniyi, Alh. Shehu Musa Gabam, Col Tony Nyiam, Prof Chidi OdinKaKu, Engr Buba Galadima, Father George Ehusani, Dr Ralph Okey Nwosu, Dr Chris Ekiyor, Dr Obadiah Malaifa, Chief Mike Ozekhome, Barr Natasha Akpoti, Bashorun Dele Momodu, Hon Janet Adeyemi, Senator Grace Brent, Alhaji Shettima Yerima and Senator Shehu Sanni to urgently identify and reach to various aggrieved and marginalized stakeholders in the country and to engage governments at various levels in ensuring justice, equity and unity in the country and for political leadership to be sensitive to national balancing as well as the culture of ensuring equity and justice to traditional interests while building up unifying national ethos. Full membership of the committee shall take more members from other interest groups and stakeholders.
“That considering a large number of Nigerians in diaspora, we have decided to set up Coordinating Peace Bodies in North America, Europe, Asia and African sub-region to find routine and diplomatic ways on how peace can return to Nigeria.
“That online recruitment and registration of members, players and promoters as well as establishing of Project Quarters in Nigeria, Africa, Europe, North America etc. have been authorised to commence immediately.”
Na’Abba Accuses Governors Of Killing Democracy In Nigeria
A former speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba, has lampooned governors in the country saying they have ruined democracy.
Na’Abba, while speaking in an interview with BBC Hausa Service yesterday, said state governors have hijacked democracy, manipulating primaries of their political parties for their cronies to emerge.
“The governors have drawn a line in politics in which if you are not their boy you won’t become anybody or get elected at all levels. This is happening in both the PDP and APC.
“Democracy should always give room for interaction among people and they should be allowed to vote the right person they want. But the governors have since changed that, there i…
Appeal Court Rekindles Jegede’s Hope Of Sacking Aketi With Inconclusive Judgment
The Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, yesterday partially upheld the appeal by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), in the October 10, 2020 governorship election in the state.
Jegede, who is challenging Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s victory, had approached the appellate court after the tribunal dismissed his petition for lacking in merit.
His counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, had asked the court to sack Akeredolu and his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, because they were allegedly not properly nominated by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
But the respondents’ counsel, Akin Olujimi (SAN), for Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) for the APC and Charles Edosanmwon (SAN) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), faulted all the arguments of Jegede’s counsel.
They contended that the case was a pre-election matter.
In the lead judgment by Justice Theresa Ngolika Orji-Abadua, the court partly allowed Jegede’s appeal on issues one, two, four and five.
She dismissed the appeal on issues three, six and seven.
In their judgments, Justice H. A. Barka, Justice J. G. Abundaga and Justice Andenyangtso Alli dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.
Justice Orji-Abadua said the Electoral Act cannot override provisions of the Constitution on qualification or disqualification of a candidate in an election.
“The appeal is partly allowed and partly dismissed,” she said.
The PDP and Jegede vowed to challenge the decision.
The party’s spokesman Kennedy Peretei said in a statement: “In concluding her lead judgment, Justice Orji-Abadua said the appeal was partially dismissed and partially allowed. To the ordinary man in the street, the judgment was ‘inconclusive’.
“The kernel of the Eyitayo Jegede/PDP petition was whether or not a gross violation of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) should be allowed to stay; whether or not Mai Mala Buni, as a sitting Governor of Yobe State, can double as National Chairman of the APC, to sign the nomination of Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) for the governorship election.
“While the Court of Appeal acknowledged that it was a violation of the Constitution, it still went ahead to dismiss the appeal.
“We are still studying the details of the judgment, by virtue of the fact that it was delivered via Zoom. But we have sufficient grounds to appeal the decision of the court. We are confident the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the land, will do justice.”
Akeredolu has extended an olive branch to Jegede, urging him to join hands with him in building the state.
Addressing reporters, Akeredolu said: “I have said this over and over: this case itself is so flimsy for me as a person. And it is clear because where you believe that you can go through the back door and upturn the will of the people, it is not going to work.
“We had an election in which the party won 15 out of the local governments; you won three. You are not contesting the result of the election, but you are hinging your petition on the Chairman of the party who signed the nomination that was forwarded to INEC.
“For me, it is clear. With God on our side, no matter where they go about this case, it will be the same result.
“It is just like when Yoruba say that if you throw the cutlass up 50 times by the time it’s landing, it will land on its side.
“Tayo, for one reason or the other, I said to him, we don’t need to pursue this case. I had called him once or twice. I don’t see why we are going about this action; that both of us can come together to work for the benefit of the state. That is my own belief.
“I respect him, but he must have a reason behind him pursuing this case the way he’s pursuing it. It is either the party is the one pushing him or he’s the one pushing himself. Whichever one it is, I know there must be something behind what he’s doing.
“But I can assure him, like a man who is building with straw, I can assure him nothing will come out of this case.
“I will call on him again for the umpteenth time: let him come, let us work together to build that state and let us work together for the Southwest and let us work together for Nigeria.
“Importantly, he is one person that I have a lot of respect for; he has respect for me. I see him as a brother. But in election matters, you cannot avoid this kind of contestation.”
Agbakoba Rubbishes Restructuring, Wants Regional Autonomy In Constitution Review Package
A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has asked the National Assembly to consider regional autonomy in the review of the 1999 Constitution.
Following calls for restructuring, among other issues, the National Assembly had recently held public hearings across the country on the proposed review of the 1999 Constitution.
Speaking on the review process in a statement yesterday, Agbakoba said regional autonomy is the best solution to some of the challenges facing the country.
“Calls for restructuring have, in my personal view, become a catch-all phrase that has introduced more confusion than solution. I believe the simple way to go is by regional autonomy,” he said.
“Regional autonomy refers to the governance and administration of a federating unit in the interest of the local people, according to their aspirations. Nigeria is made up of multi-ethnic nations managed by a central authority. This model has proved unsuccessful.
“Europe understood that diversity is best managed by regional autonomy. Switzerland has four ethnic groups. Each of them shares the presidency through four cantons that make up their federating units.
“According to Prof. George Obiozor, even though Quebec is the only fully French-speaking province, yet Canada is bilingual for the sake of Quebec. On the other hand, Yugoslavia mismanaged its diversity and the result was the emergence of six distinct countries. The same fate befell Czechoslovakia, now the nations of Czechs and Slovaks.”
He said devolution of powers is a related concept to regional autonomy, as this means the transfer of powers from one level of government to another and vice versa.
The senior lawyer also suggested that legitimacy can be conferred on the constitutional review process by full involvement and incorporation of the leaders of traditional and ethnic nationalities.
“Prof. Ben Nwabueze has indicated that ethnic nationalities are the true representatives of Nigeria. To quote him, ‘Nigeria has no territory other than the traditional territories inhabited by its constituent nationalities from time immemorial – Yorubaland, Igboland, Hausaland, Tivland, Kanuri, Ijaw, etc. It is the ethnic nationalities that ceded or granted sovereign powers of government over their territories to Britain which makes them (i.e. the ethnic nationalities) the original and primary stakeholders in the Nigerian state,’” Agbakoba said.
He also expressed optimism that more would be achieved by giving prominent seats to the leaders of traditional and ethnic nationalities.
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