National Conference: “We’re Not Afraid Of Nigeria’s Break-up” – Northern Elders Say As National Assembly Supports Jonathan


The Northern Elders Forum  has said the North is not afraid of the break-up of Nigeria  if its citizens vote for it at the end of any conference.

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The spokesman for  the forum, Prof.  Ango Abdullahi, said this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, in Abuja, on Wednesday.

He was commenting on the national dialogue advisory committee set up  on Tuesday by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Abdullahi,who  said he saw nothing wrong with Nigerians sitting down to discuss their problems, explained that contrary to the views held in certain quarters, northerners were not opposed to any form of dialogue in whatever form or shape.

He  said, “There is no problem with Nigerians sitting down to discuss their problems whether in the form of dialogue, whether in a form of conference, whether in the form of a meeting, even in the form of a Sovereign National Conference.

His view on SNC is however not in tandem with that of the foremost Northern socio-cultural organisation, the Arewa Consultative Forum, which on Tuesday said it would not support any form of dialogue termed sovereign.

However,   Abdullahi, a former vice-chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said,  “The SNC that people are advocating; people are saying that it is a way for Nigeria to break up. This shouldn’t be a problem. Even in Britain today, Scotland is still agitating to opt out of the United Kingdom;  even the Northern Island problem is still there.

“In Spain, there are separatist groups agitating for independence. Even recently,  we had in the Soviet Union and  it has broken up into 11 different countries.

“India was created in 1948, in one year there was Pakistan, in another year there was Bangladesh. So why shouldn’t it happen in Nigeria if they (advocates of SNC) believe this is the way to go?

“We don’t mind any conference no matter the outcome. I don’t think it should worry any Nigerian.”

The former VC   said the earlier Nigerians accepted that Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities could never dissolve into one, the better.

He stated that  it was left for Nigerians  to make something good out of  the almagamation of Nigeria by   Britain  in 1914.

Abdullahi also noted that it was probably out of the desire to make something out of the situation that led to the several conferences that had been held since 1914.

He, however, expressed fears that the current attempt by the  Jonathan administration to hold another conference when the reports of previous ones had not been implemented was suspicious.

The NEF spokesman said the country had held constitutional conferences in 1976, 1978, 1988, 1994/1995 and 2005.

He stated, “In each of these conferences, there have been voluminous reports on what is the problem with Nigeria. It is not for lack of information on the issues at stake.”

Abdullahi said that the country could still gain from the reports of past constitutional conferences.

He added, “When you look at it from this point of view, those who believe that Nigeria’s time is being wasted or that these are diversionary tactics have a point.

“Because this is what (President Olusegun) Obasanjo tried to do when  he was looking for a third term and he thought that he wouldn’t get it through another means except through constituting a constitutional conference.”

National Assembly backs conference

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, in an SMS   to one of our correspondents in Abuja,  said,  “The Senate supports the President in his choice of the members of the committee.”

The House of Representatives also welcomed the committee and its membership, saying that Nigerians were entitled to freedom of expression.

However, it clarified that whenever a constitutional matter cropped up in the course of discussions at the conference, it should be referred to the National Assembly.

The Deputy Leader of the House, Mr. Leo Ogor, who spoke to The PUNCH in Abuja, explained that the National Assembly remained the legally constituted body to resolve any constitutional issues in the country.

Ogor added, “We are the true representatives of the people. That is why constitutional matters must be left to the National Assembly to handle.

“But, the constitution (1999) guarantees freedom of expression and association. On that score, the conference is a welcome development; to give people the opportunity to talk and share ideas.”
Source: Punch Nigeria

Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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