North not opposed to confab report’s implementation, says ACF
Cautions Afenifere against unguarded utterances
The statement signed by ACF’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Muhammadu Ibrahim, stated that “the attention of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has been drawn to a statement credited to Chief Ayo Adebanjo, an Afenifere chieftain that “a Northerner will not be so disposed to changing the constitution because they are the beneficiary of what we are complaining about.” Ibrahim said “The 2014 National Conference was convened by former President Jonathan on 17th March, 2014 as a platform for dialogue as a result of agitations by various interest groups.
It also discussed issues and problems that appear to inhibit national progress or challenge national cohesion. It also proffered appropriate solutions that would assist in moving the nation forward.” “The selection process of delegates by President Jonathan’s government made the North that has a population of 75,268,686 people (NPC 2006) with a land mass of 730,885 square km (80 percent) as a minority with 189 delegates while the South with a population of 65,151,458 people (NPC 2006) with a land mass of 193,438 square km (20 percent) as a majority with 303 delegates.”
The Northern leaders further stated, “Despite this glaring injustice and disadvantage, the North as a region did not only participate in the overall national interest of Nigeria but also stabilized the conference on crucial issues of national unity.”
According to the ACF chief, “the 2014 Confab was however, not a platform for constitution making and did not unanimously recommend a new constitution for Nigeria as claimed by Chief Adebanjo.
The learned Chief knows better the process of constitution making and certainly the delegates to the 2014 Confab did not qualify for such process, as they were not elected as representatives of the people but selected or nominated by government and interest groups.
The delegates therefore, did not have the legitimate mandate of the people to draft or recommend a new constitution for Nigeria and did not even do so”. “The 2014 Confab in which ACF fully participated made about 600 far reaching recommendations on policy issues, legal and constitutional amendments to the 1999 Constitution as amended and submitted the report to the former President on 21st August 2014 and not a new Constitution.”
Besides, Alhaji Ibrahim argued: “President Jonathan had ample opportunity to implement some of the policy issues or even forward some of the recommendations that require legal and constitutional amendments to the National Assembly, but did not do so.
He thus queried, “Was it the Northern interest that stopped him being a southerner or a southern interest? The Confab report now being a public property is subject to the usual due process of implementation through the three arms of government and not singularly by President Buhari as Chief Adebanjo is canvassing.”