Northern delegates attending the ongoing National Conference have dissociated themselves from the “New Draft Constitution” made available to all the delegates by the leadership of the conference in Abuja on Monday. The northerners said that they were not privy to the emergence of the draft constitution.
The proposed amendment submitted to the delegates was titled, “A bill for an act to further alter the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(1999) with the first, second and third alteration, and for related matters 2014”. It was among the three copies of the report of the conference that were handed over to the delegates on Monday when they resumed plenary. The report would be debated when the conference resumes plenary on Wednesday (today).
But the northern delegates at their meeting, which lasted for several hours in Abuja on Tuesday, vowed that they would never be part of the plot to draft a new constitution for the country. Speaking with journalists after the meeting, the leader of the group, who is also the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, alleged that some undemocratic forces were working behind the scene at the conference.
He said the conference lacked legal authority, moral right and political reasons to write a new constitution. Coomassie, who was a former Inspector General of Police, said, “We the Northern Delegates to the conference wish to assure patriotic Nigerians and all lovers of democracy that we are neither privy to, nor were accessory to the emergence of the controversial ‘New Draft Constitution 2014’.
“We , therefore, unequivocally disown it, and emphatically disassociate ourselves from it. Accordingly, we will have nothing to do with it, for the following legal, moral and political reasons.” Among the reasons cited by him were that delegates to the conference were not elected, and therefore lacked both legal and moral authority to draft a new constitution for the Nigerian Federation.
He said the delegates were merely constituted to serve as an ad hoc advisory mechanism for the President. But the Yoruba delegates have described the allegation by their northern counterparts as a ploy to blackmail the conference. Secretary of the Yoruba delegates, Dr. Kunle Olajide, who spoke with our correspondent after the meeting of the group, said it was wrong to say that the conference was writing a new constitution.
He also denied the allegation that the conference had been hijacked by some groups, saying that the leadership of the conference did not involve any of the delegates in putting the agreements reached during their plenary into one. Olajide said, “There is nothing like tenure elongation, 50 per cent derivation and such in the draft. Nobody was part of the draft; it was a surprise to all of us.
“But the draft consists of all the decisions and amendments taken at the plenary. Amending the existing Constitution will lead to its mutilation.” Olajide added that the President had executive power to take issues discussed at the conference to the people via referendum.