7th February, 2012
The need to convene an urgent Sovereign National Conference (SNC) took centre stage at the National Dialogue Summit in Lagos on Monday, with participants warning on the consequences of further delay.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that more than 50 eminent Nigerians from all works of life and zones attended the summit convened to discuss pressing national issues.
The summit, organised by the National Summit Group (NSG), was aimed at proffering solutions to the myriads of challenges confronting the nation.
In his remarks, Professor Pat Utomi, the moderator of the summit said: “We have a country that could be the fastest growing economy for the next 40 years hence the need for all of us here to seek to get the Nigerian people to hold their leaders accountable.
“Until we have true federalism in Nigeria, people will continue to neglect their responsibilities.”
In his remarks, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, second republic governor of Kaduna State, expressed sadness that Nigeria was still bogged down by poverty, illiteracy, diseases and unrest.
He urged the leaders to make conscious efforts to reverse the situation.
In his submission, Chief Olu Falae said that true federalism was what Nigeria needed.
“The imposed Quasi Unitary Constitution we operate cannot keep Nigeria together. We need to meet to come up with a new constitution for Nigeria,’’ he said.
In his contribution, Professor Ben Nwabueze, a renowned constitutional lawyer and Chairman of the Patriots, underscored the importance of a sovereign national conference in addressing the nationa’s challenges.
“The nationalities making up Nigeria must sit together to seek the way forward. Anyone who tries to disallow it is an enemy to the nation,” Nwabueze said.
The former PDP National Chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said that Nigeria must find ways to add to the economy.
Ogbeh expressed regret that some Nigerians were no longer their brothers keepers but had become “killers.”
Also speaking, Chief Edwin Clark said that the nation’s resources must be shared equitably.
Kalu Idika Kalu, a former finance minister warned against further opposition to a sovereign national conference.
“The situation in the country makes it very necessary,” he said.
Chief Graham Douglas said that his people supported the call for the conference, and urged Nigerians to be more broad minded on the issue of Boko Haram by suggesting how best it could be tackled.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Yakubu Alkali said that the problem in Nigeria was that they do not allow good people to come up.
Chief Arthur Nwankwo said that time was running out against the nation, stressing the need to urgently convene the conference.
“Our system is not working. We must sit down and talk,”he said.
Chief John Nwodo and Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife said that sovereignty belongs to the people and as such the Nigerian people must be the ones to decide at a round table how they wanted to be governed.
The representative of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr. John Kolawole, disagreed with the call for a Sovereign National Conference.
He argued that the average Nigerian was not bothered about such a conference but about good governance.
“What the people want is power, food, water, security not a sovereign national conference,” he said.
Similarly, the Founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Federick Fasehun, said that though there was need for a sovereign conference to restructure the nation, there was also the need to institutionalise social justice which was a sine qua non for political stability in any nation.
NAN reports the summit was attended by other eminent Nigerians including Mr. Mohammed Fawehinmin, Mr. Femi Falana, Femi Fani-Kayode, Obong Victor Attah and Ms Ankio Briggs.
Others are Chief Felix Ibru, Mike Ozekhome, Mr. Tony Uranta, representatives of the NLC, civil society groups and the NUJ, among others.