Tuesday, 15th June 2021: Nigeria’s apex socio-cultural organizations; Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Middle Belt Forum, and Pan Niger Delta Forum, on Tuesday, urged the Federal Government to give the country a ‘new people-oriented federal Constitution’ before the 2023 elections to avert Nigeria’s drift towards another civil war and forceful disintegration.
They stated this in a communiqué issued at the end of an inter-ethnic peace dialogue with the theme: ‘Restructuring and 2023 Power-Shift: Nigeria’s Make or Break Factor for Political Survival’, convened by Comrade Kennedy Iyere, and organized in Abuja by Youths Off The Street Initiative (YOTSI) and its Diaspora partners, in collaboration with ethnic nationalities and other NGOs.
Present at the meeting were former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani Kayode; Former Speaker of House of Representatives & Chairman, National Consultative Front, (NCF), Rt. Hon Ghali Na’aba; Former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife; Prof Pat Utomi, and Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa.
Others were former Minister of Women Affairs, Iyom Josephine Anenih; Ex-Minister of Urban Housing and Former Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko; Former Governor of Kwara State, Chief Cornelius Adebayo; former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Chief Kofo Bucknor; Former Deputy Governor of Taraba State, Dr S.D Gani; former Secretary General of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Engr Samuel Salifu; and President General of Mzough-U-Tiv and Chairman of Association of Benue Socio-Cultural Organizations (ABSCO), Chief Iorbee Ihagh
In the 10-point communiqué made available to journalists, the apex socio-cultural organisations stated that the country had fallen to its lowest ebb given the spate of ethnic, cultural, political, and religious agitations responsible for the nationwide security challenges.
They also questioned the sincerity of the government in addressing these challenges, stressing that effective political leadership was also urgently needed to arrest the ugly trend.
According to the communiqué, Chief Ayo Adebanjo (Afenifere), Professor George Obiozor (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Senator Emmanuel Essien Ibok (PANDEF), Dr. Pogu Bitrus (MBF), and Chief Chukwuemeke Ezeife, in their separate paper presentation on ‘Constitutional Restructuring’ and ‘2023 Presidential Transition’, noted the perceived lacunas in the 1999 Federal Constitution and its inadequacy to solving critical issues as well as, the need for electoral reforms to ensure the sanctity of the ballots.
It reads in part, “The inter-ethnic peace dialogue is an effort to forestall the imminent drift towards another civil war and forceful disintegration of Nigeria.
“The meeting recognizes that a pre-condition for peace, justice, equity, fairness, and sustainable development is ‘quality political leadership’ especially, at the helm of affairs.
“Therefore, the dialogue adopted the following resolutions:
“Asserts that Nigeria needs a ‘New People-oriented Federal Constitution’ before the 2023 General Elections given that the current 1999 Constitution does not represent the interests of the People.
“Insists that the new Constitution should provide for ‘True Federalism’ that heralds a restructured Nigeria.
“Calls on the Presidency to live up to its mandate of preserving the lives and properties of citizens by contending with the current insecurity.
“Demands the convocation of emergency ‘National Conference’ to take place in 2022 to fashion out a new federal constitution on the way forward for the federating regions.
“Agrees that the ‘2023 Presidency’ should be zoned to the South.
“Demands the amendment of the ‘Electoral Law’ to provide for electronic voting and real-time transmission of results before the 2023 general elections, to provide for transparency, accountability and to allow the ‘sanctity of the ballot box’ and to reduce voter apathy.”
The apex socio-cultural organisations also charged the Federal Government to urgently address the insecurity in the land as part of its efforts to avert a second civil war and keep the country united.
They also insisted that ‘Federal Character’ should be used in making federal appointments.
The meeting expressed the belief in a truly united Nigeria and rejected secession as a solution to present challenges, but insisted that the government should be seen to be performing acts that breed equality, peace and justice.
The statement further said that the unveiling ceremony of an ad-hoc committee, known as “United Nigeria Advocacy Committee, (UNAC), was conducted by former Minister of Urban Housing and Former Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, to promote peace and sustain Nigeria’s unity, and to redress the prevailing injustice and general ills that have divided the country.
The various ethnic nationalities, in the communiqué, prayed for the implementation of their joint decisions as a catalyst for a better Nigeria and the common good of all citizens.