President Goodluck Jonathan has rejected the call for a sovereign national conference asking those calling for the SNC to trust the “Presidential Committee on Outstanding Constitutional Issues,” headed by Justice Alfa Belgore.
“In recognition of the demands by Nigerians for a constitutional amendment, we set up the Justice Belgore Committee to bring up all those issues which have been agreed upon at previous national conferences, for presentation as bills to the National Assembly, and subsequent passage into law, while a larger body will meet on issues that are still controversial for a national consensus,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan made the statement at a meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja with some political leaders from the South West and South South part of the country.
The President, according to a statement by the office of the special adviser to the President, told the delegation that the Justice Belgore-led committee will “bring up areas of national consensus from the 2006 National Political Reform Conference for National Assembly’s consideration towards effecting constitutional amendments.”
Mr. Jonathan also told the committee that his administration would step up the fight against corruption by strengthening the anti-corruption agencies, and also reduce the number of parastatals.
The delegation had presented a communiqué of a meeting held between the two groups. Apart from calling for a national conference, the communiqué also condemned the activities of Boko Haram, requested the withdrawal of troops from the streets to reduce tension, urged stronger prosecution of the war against corruption, and requested for a reduction of size and cost of governance.
We reject 1999 constitution
The delegation which was led by Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi for the South West and Chief Edwin Clarke for the South South said it rejects the 1999 Constitution.
“The 1999 constitution is neither just nor equitable to the overwhelming majority of Nigerians; neither does it promote development and good governance. The vast majority of our people are demanding a new constitution which will be of their own making,” they said.
The group while appreciating the transformation agenda of the Jonathan administration stated that “the success of any agenda is predicated on a stable and secure polity, with happy and contented citizens.”
In the absence of these, no agenda can succeed, no matter how laudable. And to achieve peace and stability, there must be justice and equity.”