12th November, 2012
BY EGHES EYIEYIEN
The Sovereign National Conference, SNC, is not a cure-all panacea. It is a beginning. It will bring all ethnic nationalities to the discussion table where a no-holds barred discussion of the terms of our union will be (re)negotiated.
Below are my proposed modalities and logistics to give effect to the SNC in practical terms:
– The Presidency will send an Executive Bill to convoke the SNC to the National Assembly.
– The National Assembly will pass the Sovereign National Assembly Convocation and Related Matters Act.
– All the decisions of the SNC will be subject to ratification by a national referendum through a collegiate voting system so that the larger tribes will not subvert the wishes of the smaller tribes.
– The Referendum will be conducted by INEC and subject to local and international observers’ participation.
– The ratified decisions will form the basis of a new and true Constitution of the peoples of Nigeria.
– Any ethnic nationality that chooses to opt out of Nigeria will be permitted to do so peacefully.
Selection/Election of Representatives at the SNC
– Representation shall be only from Ethnic Nationalities: 10 persons per ethnic national no matter its official population figure. The tribe shall select or elect its representatives freely as it deems fit but with clear proof of acceptance by majority members of the tribe.
– No card-carrying member of political parties shall participate in the SNC.
– There shall be no appointees of government.
– The Chairman of the SNC shall be a retired Chief Justice of Nigeria while the Deputy Chairman shall be a retired Justice of the Supreme Court. They shall be male and female. They shall have no voting right. They are merely moderators.
– The Secretariat of the SNC shall be the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly.
– The Federal Government shall fund the SNC as provided for by the SNC Convocation Act.
– Each Representative at the SNC will receive only a refund of travel costs and provided accommodation allowance of N60,000 per day which is more than sufficient for a Four-star Hotel in Abuja.
– A sitting honorarium of N250,000 flat shall be paid to each representative for the entire duration of the SNC.
The SNC shall convene for a three-month period.
Transparency and Integrity of the SNC
– To ensure the integrity of the SNC, all representatives shall declare their assets and the Assets Declaration Form shall be published on the SNC website. The Assets Declaration Form shall be notarised and the bank accounts declared shall be attested to by the bankers of the representative.
– The Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Secretary of the SNC shall similarly declare their assets as if they were representatives.
– All issues for deliberation at the SNC shall be discussed publicly at plenary sessions of all the representatives. There shall be no committees.
– A consensus need not be achieved on the issues discussed.
– All issues shall ve the subject of the national referendum.
– All sessions of the SNC shall be televised live by NTA Network using a new broadcast channel created specially for that purpose. All sessions shall be streamed live via the internet. Past sessions shall be archived and made accessible via the SNC website.
– The decisions of the SNC which are ratified by the National Referendum shall be final.
– The National Assembly shall adopt the ratified SNC decisions as law by incorporating into the New Constitution. The New Constitution shall NOT be subject to consent by State Houses of Assembly or assent by the President. This would be made clear as part of the SNC Convocation Act.
An SNC is feasible and imperative.
But most members of the political class (despite religion, section or tribe and including many in the opposition who love to mouth “Sovereign National Conference”) are really satisfied with the status quo. They are deluded thinking that Nigeria’s problems are not really fundamental and that palliatives will stop the agitation of various groups in the country.
A restructured Nigeria based on the outcome of an SNC would take away the gravy tray from the political elite. Sadly, most human beings do not change because they see the light but because they feel the heat. May that heat not be cataclysmic!
God bless Nigeria!
• Eghes Eyieyien writes from Lagos.