The Patriots want a national conference in Nigeria.
The Patriots, a political pressure group, plans to advance its campaign for a national conference before the 2015 general elections, its chairman, Ben Nwabueze, has said.
Addressing the 14th Annual Conference of the Igbo Youth Movement in Enugu on Saturday, Mr. Nwabueze said the group would mobilise others to forge a national front for the campaign.
He said the conference was the only way to bring the country back to the path of progress as it would bring all the divisive factors to the table for resolution.
“Anybody saying Nigeria is not on the verge of failing is not in touch with the reality. National conference is the only way to bring the country back on track.
“National conference will not lead to chaos; it will lead to peace. Some people do not seem to understand what the significance of this is,’’ the law professor said.
He said the national front would comprise all ethnic pressure groups in the country as well as other interest groups like the youth and women.
Mr. Nwabueze said the front would prepare a memorandum and a bill on the conference and present them to President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the National Assembly.
Also speaking, a member of the Yoruba Assembly, Alani Akinrinade, urged the movement to remain steadfast in the quest for a national conference.
“This is not a moment to waiver. It is a time to remain focused in your quest,’’ Mr. Akinrinade, a retired Lieutenant General, who led a delegation of the assembly, said.
He said the Yoruba nation had already published its position for the conference and pledged the partnership of the assembly with the movement for their common purpose.
Also contributing, Solomon Asemota said the 1999 Constitution was unveiled after former President Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn into power that year.
Mr. Asemota, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the election that ushered in the former president was not conducted under the constitution.
“The 1999 Constitution gives us the power to vote but not the right to be voted for. This singular provision makes the constitution very much against the people,’’ he said.
Mr. Asemota said the conference should also examine the presidential and parliamentary systems of government and choose one for the country.
“I believe the presidential system is very expensive. I prefer where a community nominates someone to represent it at the state and a group of communities nominates someone to the national level and if he is good, he becomes the prime minister,’’ he said.
In his contribution, Ben Obi, the Political Adviser to the President, said President Goodluck Jonathan was already tackling some of the issues canvassed by the group and others.
Mr. Obi advised politicians to sell themselves to the youth to secure their votes rather than engage them for electoral fraud.
“Now our votes count, so there is no more ballot box snatching or stuffing. The youths must not allow themselves to be used by politicians,’’ he said.
He also advised the group to articulate their demands and send a delegation to both the executive and legislative arms of government.
The conference, with the theme “National conference before 2015 elections, only roadmap to a greater Nigeria’’ was attended by hundreds of youths and political activists.