Constitutional Amendments Are Better Than National Conferences
By Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
August 27, 2007
I have watched the renewed debate in connection with the so-called National Conference with complete amazement and incredulity! I had assumed that the elections and the inaugurations that followed would end these political grandstanding and hot air, sound and furies that all amount to nothing of substance! Nigeria currently has Senators and House of Representative Members for all the states of our federation? Let them be the conferees! What is more representative and democratic than Nigeria’s National Assembly already duly constituted? What section of the Nigerian constitution provides for SNC?
Why will any Nigerian and any person for that matter think the National Assembly incapable of resolving Nigeria’s political, economic, social or constitutional reform? What exactly then is their job description? Why do some Nigerians seem to think the so-called sovereign national conference is a panacea to the crises?
I strongly believe that the way forward is Constitutional Reforms through Amendments this will be a reform of the rules and processes that could sustain our nation for 400 years or more, this as opposed the hogwash and slipshod of a national conference day-dream!
A Sovereign National Conference is an ad-hoc measure, a stop-gap, that would not endure, its a band aid/bandage to a gaping wound, it will amount to a waste of time and resource and it will surely produce more anger and disaffection and hotel bills!
Democratizing Nigeria requires hurrying slowly! Let us reform the constitution, the laws, the rules and processes and democracy will take firm roots!
We should continue to oppose ad-hoc measures, including the fabled SNC! Because,
Constitutional Amendments Are Better Than Political Conferences that will just satisfy a clique of Nigeria elite that have been demanding SNC.
There has been a stampede and shrill shouting marathons orchestrated by the advocates of the so-called national conference (de facto) constitutional amendments as opposed to a (de jure) which is the preferred constitutional amendment that that they suggest, which is what an SNC will mean.
The trouble is that, the advocates of national conference are so LOUD! Perhaps that is clear and is the reason that the presidency may yield to the pressure and blackmail? I hope that political expediencies do not act to subvert our constitution and our laws! Some Nigerians instead of making the system and process work and fine-tune itself, they rather engage in quick fixes and unnecessary tinkering!
It is not clear that Mr. Obasanjo is now for the conference thing, I see what has been reported as mere speculation, but even if he does, it will probably be because of the shrill shouting that I referred to above, it will be a matter of regret!
Should Mr. President be unyielding and defiant? Even when he is clearly right in resisting unconstitutional tinkering? When he is adamant? He is called names, when he is amenable or magnanimous? He is equally called names!
Uneasy head lies the head that wears the crown? If Obasanjo continues to resist National Conference; some would say he is a dictator, If Obasanjo now say: let's all of NIgeria have a talk; some are saying he has an ulterior motive, What should Obasanjo do, and how can we now move Nigeria forward?
Nigerians should let the system fine-tune itself, let the rule of law, rules and due process sort out the issues of the great Nigerian debate.
Constitutional Amendments are much more preferable to ad hoc tinkering with the Nigerian structure
Constitutional Amendments will help to establish a well-grounded democracy and help to sustain the system and individual rights, resource allocation, prevention of group dominations by other group etc
No Fire Brigade tinkering please!
The complete disregard to the rule of laws as mentioned has led Nigeria to the current state of affairs since during the last thirty years, Nigeria should not and cannot have Sovereign National Conference; that will take power away from the established Constitutional order, the SNC completely negates the constitution!
We should not have National Conference, when the National Assembly can deliberate and make recommendations, the NASS can deliberate national issues, agree on them and make them into laws, this can only be done by the National Assembly not a so-called national conference or a mimic of the NASS!
If the members of the proposed National Conference are not nominated by local communities and civil authority and instead elected, what modalities will be used to conduct elections, and who will fund such election? Will all these not amount to a duplication and waste of efforts? Especially in Nigeria where there are so many project competing for few available resources?
Why should Nigeria create more rigmarole? The National Assembly is already assembled to tackle all national issues! Why can’t the Nation Assembly be allowed to have the onerous tasks of dealing with structure of the country, the economy, constitutional amendments etc Why would Nigerians after elections and inaugurations, now hire somebody else to do the job of the president and the national assembly?
Is the marginalization of ethnic nationalities responsible for the fact that the last four years, the House of Assembly members of Enugu state were fighting? And in two factions? Ndigbo Assembly persons in Enugu were in factional fighting because of Hausa/Fulanis? Or Lord Lugard creation? Or resource control and marginalization?
NO! It is political and the democratic process in teething or growing pains, the rule of law, due process and democracy are not fine-tuned in short-order, or overnight and the benefits are not derived is short gestations period!
A National Conference is unconstitutional, the constitution does not provide for the duplication of NASS the people's representatives and the constitution is the supreme law of Nigeria, any other impositions will be extra legal and fraught with clear danger!
All Nigerians should accept democracy and its rules and practices, and begin to lobby, write letters or visit their elected representatives and insist on accountability on the part of public officials and office holders at all levels of government. Demand everything through your elected persons, she or he represents your constituency and if you want a law made of changed or reformed or you want the Nigerian constitution amended? AHA! Talk to your elected representatives, that is, your Councilor, Local Government Chairman, your Senator, House of Rep member, your Governor and our president!
Do not truncate the system! Reform it, Nurture if!
Nigeria is not a one party state and will not become one under a democracy, Nigerians are too impatient for that sort of thing! In a country where everyone wants to be a president or governor etc? What will happen to the thirty different political parties that are just several months old? Fizzle out so fast? In OBJ's next four years?
You guys are presuming that OBJ will succeed himself? Nigeria has already had our "Federalist Conference" Our constitutional Conferences and Constitutional Assemblies
Nigeria must now fine-tune the constitutional that arose from those previous constitutional/national conferences, amend our constitution as necessary.
Some Nigerians exhibit incredible impatience, it is the source of most of Nigeria's challenges, it has always been and it still is, even now!
What is the job of our elected representative in the National Assembly? To get car loans? Furniture Loans? Stay in the best quarters in Apo Village at Abuja? Fight the President?
Why can’t some Nigerians let our elected representatives (Senators and House of Reps members) amend the constitution as need arise?
All Nigerians should reject ANY attempt to appoint anyone on our behalf for a national conference! Nigerians should prefer the elected ones, even if the elections were imperfect! Let all Nigerians say no to ad hoc! And say no to any tinkering with our country present and future.
Nigeria's current National Assembly already hold National Conferences every time that they assembly to conduct Nigeria’s national business, on all our behave everyday in Abuja, when they meet to discuss Nigeria's national interests, contrary to what some now say, Nigeria was not concocted in hell, Nigeria was ordained in Heaven and THE TASK TO KEEP NIGERIA ONE IS A TASK THAT HAS BEEN DONE, ask the former President Gowon, many Nigerians made the ultimate and supreme sacrifice to preserve Nigeria, Nigeria is moving forward to a better, prosperous and greater nation, where no one is marginalized or left behind
Keeping Nigeria One Is A Task That Has Been Done, It will not be undone!
Nigeria's National Conference has been assembled and seating since May 29, 1999, the National Assembly is our institution that will endure and resolve our national issues, in cooperation with the other arms of government, there may be new elections and new inaugurations, the structure of Nigeria is the same and will remain so, In Sha Allah
God has always blessed Nigeria and will continue to do so, even more abundantly!