The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has described recent call by the Senate ad-Hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution on the public to submit memoranda to assist the “further alteration of the provisions of the Constitution, as a another move in futility.
This is contained in a statement by Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Director, Publicity and Advocacy of the Forum made available to Ashenewsonline on Sunday.
According to it, the National Assembly, NASS, since 1999, had spent huge amount of Nigerians money on what the Forum called “jamboree” that gave citizens false hope that the three arms of “government respected genuine desire of Nigerians for a holistic and genuine review and amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
NEF also faulted the announcement, which gave all Nigerians two weeks to submit their memoranda on all aspects of the current constitution.
Read the full statement below:
“The Forum is convinced that this initiative of the Senate is of no value and a predictably waste of time, resources and energy of the nation, and should not be supported by any Nigerian that is genuinely concerned by waste in governance at this difficult time when the economy is facing unprecedented challenges.
“Virtually every National Assembly since 1999, had spent huge amounts of Nigerian people’s money on jamborees that give them false hope that the three arms of government respect genuine desire of Nigerians for a holistic and genuine review and amendment of the 1999 Constitution. Nothing fundamental or of any value has come out of these grand schemes to exploit our collective desire to address our political and economic fundamentals. This National Assembly is also following suit, and it should not be encouraged on this path.
“Nigeria’s future rests largely on its willingness to address major constraints to equity and justice, a functional structure, consistent good governance, security for all citizens, growing understanding between and among all groups and an economy that grows and narrows inequalities between and classes and regions. This cannot be achieved by a process that routinizes massive expenditures around false hopes.
“The Legislature and executive branches of government have large quantities of reviews, recommendations and reports from past attempts at amending the Constitutions. These represent enough resources for a review if the legislature is serious about this vital national priority. Even this is not likely to produce a genuine effort to address the basic requirements of securing a stable, secure and prosperous Nigeria, because both arms of this administration are unlikely to accept to put through wide-ranging reviews of the Constitution.
“The Northern Elders Forum recommends the alternative of leaders of thought, elders, groups and professional organizations and representatives of government to freely discuss every element of our co-existence as a country under principles of voluntarism, genuine representation and utmost mutual respect of the process.
“A Nigerian Peoples’ Conference on Review of the Constitution will benefit from past work in this direction and contemporary challenges the country needs to address in a context that allows free expression without pre-determined ends. The outcome of this Conference should be submitted to the two arms of government which may arrange and fund a referendum on the recommendations of the Conference for Nigerians to decide on how they want their nation to be structured and function.
“The Forum invites attention of particularly northern groups to be wary of being railroaded into making submissions which the legislature will hold up as input, further justifying waste and deceit. No northern group should encourage the further waste of public funds which should be channelled into battling killers, kidnappers, poverty and poor governance.
“The North wants a major review of the Constitution, but it is ready to resist attempts to create wealth for a few while it leaves parts of the country to quarrel and blame each other for the state of the nation. Northerners are willing to discuss current challenges of the region and the state of the country with any group, anywhere, provided it sees evidence of sincerity and respect for each other.
“The Forum advises the National Assembly to direct its energy towards convincing President Muhammadu Buhari to bring an end to the insurgency in the North East and killings in most parts of North Central and North East and other parts of the country. It advises the Senate to jettison the wasteful idea of giving Nigerians that it is involved in a serious review of our Constitution,” the statement reads.