National Conference: Yoruba groups advise Jonathan against nominating delegates

The team reiterated that a National Conference is needed to resolve the political logjam facing the country

A team of Yoruba self-determination groups have urged President Goodluck Jonathan to “resist the temptation” of nominating delegates to this year’s National Conference.

Rising from their review of the Femi Okurounmu-led Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue’s report, on Wednesday, the groups kicked against using the conference as a ground for partisan politics.

Represented at the meeting were the Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG; Coalition of O’dua Self Determination Groups COSEG; O’dua Nationalist Coalition, ONAC; Atayese and Covenant Group, CG; and the Afenifere Youth Forum.

“On the nomination of delegates, either by the President or the State Governors, we are mindful of the fact that undue interference of political interests has been the bane of previous efforts,” the groups stated in a joint communique at the end of the parley.

“Therefore, for this conference to be successful, no partisan political interest must be represented. We therefore kick against the nomination of delegate by anybody. We want to discuss Nigeria, not partisan politics or vested interest.

“To deter insinuations of a vested agenda, our advice to President Goodluck Jonathan is to refuse the temptation to personally nominate delegates,” the communique added.

The groups reiterated their belief that a National Conference is needed to resolve the political logjam facing the country.

“The obvious lesson since the return to democracy in 1999 is that partisan politics, with its interminable ability to fuel mistrust and ethno-religious bigotry, cannot help Nigeria’s cause,” the groups said. “We stand by our position, that a National Conference – the type that Nigeria needs – must be a conference of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. Anything short of this would not change the fortune of  Nigeria’s drifting ship as could be gleaned from the history and peculiar challenges the country has faced since the amalgamation in 1914.

“The colonialists did not sign treaties with any other group in the process leading up to the amalgamation and there is a huge and compelling body of evidence that makes it mandatory for ethnic nationalities to meet at a roundtable and discuss the future of this nation.”

The restructuring of the country to reflect true federalism must be the focal point of the Conference, according to the groups, since the current federating units are not viable.

“We want to make it clear to Nigerians that our opinion on the need for a National Conference is for all ethnic groups to discuss Nigeria and how the inherent and creative potentials of its components could be harnessed within a constitutional framework that is suitable for everybody,” the communique stated.

“We therefore see no reason why an ethnic group should have simple majority in representation. We believe that equal number of delegates should come from each of the six administrative zones.

The Yoruba groups further noted that the purpose of the National Conference should be to give Nigerians and Nigeria a new Constitution based on the free will of the people.

“The decisions that delegates from each region take at the conference must be subjected to a referendum in their respective regions,” the groups said in the communique.

“As Yoruba people, we are conscious of the fact that various conferences in the past were mere mirages which did not meet the genuine aspirations of Nigerian people.

“We are also aware of the justifiable groundswell of suspicions against the current effort. However, as Yoruba people, we see every platform as an opportunity to represent the age long development agenda of our people.

“If a peaceful and mutually agreeable federal structure is made impossible through a deliberate subversion of a Constitutional Conference by enforcing unacceptable modalities, the Yoruba people shall reserve the right to take its fate in its hand,” the groups added.

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