A delegate representing South West at the National Conference, Femi Okunrounmu, has supported suggestions that the outcome of the conference should be subjected to the wishes of Nigerians through a referendum.
Speaking at the conference in Abuja on Wednesday, Mr. Okunrounmu urged the President Goodluck Jonathan to constitute a Drafting Committee for a new constitution.
“The President should then liaise with the National Assembly for a referendum and to prepare for voting on the draft constitution.
“When people endorse the draft constitution, the President should forward it to National Assembly for enactment into a constitution or to form part of amended constitution as the case may be.”
Josephine Anenih, representing Elder Statesmen, said Mr. Jonathan had assured the nation of a referendum and that the legislators had agreed to insert it into the constitution if needs be.
Ms. Anenih said: “we have patriotically articulated and sensitised peoples’ thoughts. I don’t think we should shy away from drafting a new constitution.”
Isaac Ighure, representing the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, also supported the proposal for a referendum.
Mr. Ighure explained that many countries had adopted referendum when there were critical decisions to be made.
He said the National Assembly is expecting the report to come to them and when it goes to them, they will tinker with it.
Annkio Briggs, representing South-South also supported a referendum but said that the report should be drafted to form part of a new constitution.
“I want all Nigerians to know that the implementation of the recommendation of the report is in their hands and they should take the responsibility to allow the country to move forward.
Steve Aluko-Daniels, representing Civil Society Organisations, said “what is lacking in Nigeria is not beautiful speeches or beautiful documents but political will.
“Nigerians must own this process. The problem with the previous report was that the people did take ownership of the resolutions.
“Let the President subject the resolutions to the people and let Nigerians own it through a referendum,” Mr. Aluko-Daniels said.
Akin Oyebode, representing the South West, said “our constitution is actually Decree 24 of 1999. The decree cannot continue to govern us.
“The President should use his executive power to make a national broadcast and call for a referendum. The constitution that people will make for themselves should arise from this conference”, he said.
Bisi Adegbuyi, representing Ogun State, also said the1999 constitution is illegitimate as it did not evolve from the people.
“We were not elected but selected. However, if we take what we did here to the people, then everything we did here will be ratified by the people”, he said.