FORMER President Goodluck Jonathan has said the limited time between the period the 2014 National Conference (CONFAB) Report was submitted to him and the 2015 election was a major reason for his inability to implement the report.
Jonathan also said the defection of the then Speaker of the House of Representatives and now Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, also contributed to the non- implementation of the report.
He also said he thought he would win the 2015 presidential election to give him enough time to implement the CONFAB’s recommendations.
According to him, some segments of the population were already suspicious of all his government’s actions.
He claimed that his intentions could have been misread “especially against the ECOWAS protocol on constitutional reforms which states that no substantial modification shall be made to the electoral laws of member states in the last six months before elections”.
Jonathan made the disclosures on Tuesday at the presentation of a book on the CONFAB titled ‘The National Conversation’, in Abuja
Two journalists who played vital roles at the conference, Akpandem James and Sam Akpe, authored the book.
Jonathan spoke about the CONFAB for the first time while launching the book.
A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF) and former President of the Senate, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, represented him.
While lauding the authors for simplifying the lengthy report through their work, the former President said he expected his failure to implement the report to continue to generate interest and debates with people approaching the discourse from the viewpoints of their beliefs, sectional sentiments, political orientation and ideological persuasion.
“Whenever people say that I should have implemented its recommendations, my feeling is either those people did not understand the political environment at that time, the length of time it would take to implement the report of a conference like that or probably were just playing politics with such an important matter.
“Those knowledgeable about the processes of constitutional reforms will know that to implement the CONFAB report, a number of alterations will be made to the Constitution, which would require the involvement of the National Assembly and state assemblies.
“Such elaborate review couldn’t have been possible at that time because by the time the report was submitted in August 2014, we were already on the verge of a general election.
“It is also important to point out that at that time, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who was a member of my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had already moved out, with some members, to the opposition party.
“When you know that your parliament is under that kind of situation, it would have been imprudent on my own part to take such a precious document, which I consider as crucial to our development yearnings, to a parliament that would not give it due consideration.”
Jonathan, who boasted of giving the delegates at the conference the full independence to take decisions they considered the best for the country, said the socio-political climate facing the nation at the time made it difficult for him to implement the report hastily.
He urged the citizens to desist from playing politics with any matter of national importance to guarantee development, stability and peace in the country.
The former President said his administration facilitated the CONFAB to promote a sense of belonging among the nationalities and stem agitations capable of disintegrating the nation.
Meanwhile, Jonathan’s successor, President Muhammadu Buhari, has not also done anything about the report, with less than a year remaining for his eight-year tenure to end.
Here is Jonathan’s full speech.