By Nma Shekwolo
Chairman of the Northern States Governor’s Forum, NSGF, Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, has said that the region will not support calls for a Sovereign National Conference, arguing that such a demand will mean that all elected politicians give up their positions as “you cannot have two sovereignty in one state”.
On the other hand, the Afenifere renewal group (the pan-Yoruba Socio-political group) backs a Sovereign National Conference, saying, “what this nation needs is a fundamental political reform that will overhaul the present bloated governance structure. And we believe such fundamental reform can only come about through an instrument of a Sovereign National Conference”.
Speaking at the opening of a one day workshop organised by the Niger state Ministry of Tertiary Education for Niger state students, Aliyu said that those calling for a sovereign national conference must understand its implication.
“If anybody says he is going to organise a sovereign National Conference all of us in government must resign our jobs and then transfer the sovereignty of the country to a committee that is going to discuss the sovereignty of the country,” he said.
The governor however added that the forum would approve a national conference which in his view will move the country forward.
His words: “I will love a National Conference that will look at our constitution and really give us justice, equity and fairness in our body politics and in our national life.”
He said contrary to popular views, the Northern states are not afraid of organising a conference as it will promote constructive deliberations that will lead to the progress and development of the country.
The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday renewed calls for a National Conference.
“A conference of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities, called to foster frank and open discussions of the national question, can certainly find accommodation in the extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution which guarantee freedom of expression, and of association,” Senate President David Mark said.
While noting that it is welcome development, Mark said nonetheless that the idea of a National Conference is not without inherent and fundamental difficulties.
“Problems of its structure and composition will stretch the letters and spirit of the Constitution and severely task the ingenuity of our constitutionalists,” he stated.