Prof. Akinyemi, Abayomi, Ibrahim, Siddique, Sekoni, IYC President React to Ahmed Joda’s Proposal



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Vox Pop :Since the publication of Elder Stateman Ahmed Joda’s proposal on  the state of the nation by Newsdiaryonline.com, several Nigerians have commented on the issues raised.These comments were sourced  from  internet groups and list –serves.We  serve you some of the views .

Prof Bolaji Akinyemi’s Ammendments To Ahmed Joda’s Yola’s Proposal

A very thoughtful and comprehensive proposal. My amendment will be that if we adopt the present Federal House constituencies as basis for election to (the) Constituent Assembly, adoption of proposals in (the)Assembly must be with a 75% majority. Secondly, military Heads of States and their deputies should be excluded from the body headed by the incumbent President.

A very worthy set of proposals.
Prof A. Bolaji Akinyemi

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim: Let me start by thanking our  respected elder statesman Ahmed Joda for his very incisive suggestions on the way forward. I agree with the core suggestions of the necessity for a constituent assembly to produce a Constitution and the election/selection mode should remain open to debate. The proposal is feasible unlike the call for a sovereign national conference which I believe is not feasible in the present circumstances.

The key issue for me is process rather than outcome. We need a process that will confer legitimacy on the Constitution whatever its contents are. There is ample evidence of dissatisfaction with our present Constitution.

I was convenor of the Citizens Forum for Constitutional Reform from 1999 to 2006 and my sparing partner was the late Beko who was focused on the ethnic nationalities issue. When he lost the debate in CFCR, he left and teamed up with Enaharo in a very un-representative PRONACO that produced an ethnic map that is totally unworkable as the basis for constitutional rule in Nigeria.

What Joda offers is a more legitimate way to create a constituent assembly that could be considered acceptable to Nigerians.  Lets keep this discussion open and see how we can build on the suggestions.

Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim
Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)
Abuja

Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed :I have read the very interesting contribution by our respected elder statesman Alhaji Ahmed Joda on the state of the nation. However I have some preliminary observations. On the one hand he argues that  the National Assembly lacks the legitimacy to act as a constituent assembly; yet it is the same national assembly which is  tasked with the responsibility of both convening CA and enacting the law that will bring the new constitution to being. This is a serious  contradiction. A National Assembly which is said to lack legitimacy cannot at the same time be the body that would enact the supreme law of the land, even if this proposed law had been ratified by the people in a referendum.

I am also not comfortable with Alhaji Joda’s suggestion that the agenda of this constituent assembly be set by ex Heads of State and their deputies. I wonder what gives this motley crowd the legitimacy for such onerous responsibility. To start with many of them came through coups or the kind of elections he correctly questions. More importantly by having the power to set the agenda, they will to a large extent predetermine the kind of constitution the country will end up with, as our national experience has repeatedly indicated.

There is also a problem about a fundamental document such as  a constitution  being subjected to only a referendum, which limits people to either accepting or rejecting it. There may be controversial clauses, in an otherwise excellent document, which the majority of people may not find acceptable and for that reason alone may throw out the constitution.

I am inclined to agree with those that argue that the sovereign national conference, emotionally attractive as it is at the moment, will not solve the country’s problems.  Even if Nigeria were to break up into ethnic republics, the issues of leadership, direction, transparency, accountability, security, poverty, etc will still bedevil the different units, whatever they may call themselves, in probably more direct and dramatic ways. We have experienced the consequences of the break up of the Soviet Union, Somalia, Yugoslavia etc

Certainly there is the need for constitutional reform. There is also therefore the need for more thorough electoral reforms that will guarantee free and fair elections.

In my view, the current process initiated by the National Assembly is flawed: it is like putting the cart before the horse. Let us first address the issue of how to ensure credible electoral outcomes. Then we can have different political parties canvassing for different positions regarding the shape of the new constitution. We can then have a National Assembly with a clear mandate to initiate the process of writing a new constitution, which will then be subjected to a referendum. In the event that the people of Nigeria accepts the new document, the National Assembly enacts it into law. However, if the people rejects the document, the National Assembly begins the process all over again, taking into consideration the reasons for the rejection.

This process may appear long, but, in the final analysis,  that is what democracy is all about: consultation, consensus and consent.

Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed,
Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training,
Zaria.

Dr Tunji Abayomi’s Perspective On Ahmed Joda’s Proposal For Nigeria

Gentlemen,

The Proposal of Senior Citizen Joda attempts to deal with one fundamental issue. We have never as a people agreed to the terms of our unity. Forced unity can never endure. Yes i agree as a constitutional expert that a body different from the National Assembly is needed to resolve the present constitutional crisis, The National Assembly members were not only not elected to make for Nigeria a constitution, the members largely tilted in favour of one Political Party, through, in general, a manifestly corrupted election cannot establish the nature of government for Nigeria. It is not a government that gives a nation a constitution, rather it is a constitution that gives a nation a government,I agree with Elder Nationalist Joda that a Constituency Assembly or a Constitutional Convention should be brought about through election conducted by INEC but for the powers of the Assembly to be lawful and legitimate can only be drawn up by the National Assembly in exercise of delegated legislative  powers consigned through the elections inspite of their imperfection. Asking the President to head it will consign executive and legislative powers in one man apart from the absence of fundamental legitimacy support for such process.

It is appropriate that the CA be brought about by the National Assembly but subjecting the outcome after a referendum to the National Assembly must be unambiguously defined to mean somethting like this: when X number of states approve the Constitutional document, then it carries binding power throughout Nigeria.It must be understood that the referendum is an exercise of the highest sovereingty which cannot constitutionally be subjected to the legistative powers of the NA.

All in all the voice of Mr Joda has advanced the dialogue. I commend him.

Tunji Abayomi

From Citizen Advocacy Group List-serve

Prof. Ropo Sekoni’s Intervention On Ahmed Joda’s Yola’s Proposal

I thank you for sending me these responses to Joda’s interview and suggestions on how to constitute a constitutional conference. I am currently out of the country and the info you have sent me is very useful. Joda wants to use the problem to solve the problem. It is the construction

of the federal constituencies that is a major problem that makes nonsense of our democracy. The worst we can do is to use equality of states or regions to determine number of those who come to the assembly.

Have a nice day.

Prof Ropo Sekoni,

a columnist with the Nation Newspaper

President Of IYC On Prof Bolaji Akinyemi’s Ammendments To Ahmed Joda’s Yola’s Proposal

Dear Prof Akinyemi and All

Please and with all due respect to your wisdom and experience, the origin, nature and constitution of current federal constituencies, which are products of dictatorial era of the military vested constituency delineation exercises  is part of our problem. Not soon after the assembly is constituted will we begin to see the challenge in some of these constituencies. Those who advocate for this structure as basis for constituting representation for constitutional discourse need to look beyond their experiences drawn from their own constituencies which many be balanced and share some of ours knowledge and experience where imbalances and inequities prevail.

In my federal constituency, Port Harcourt City Fed Constituency 2 (Port Harcourt has two Federal Constituencies ie PHCFC 1 and PHCFC 2)  we have two ethnic groups who lay historic claim to PHC LGA, the Okrika- Ijaws and the Ikwerres. A situation which is reinforced by the ethnicised nature of Governance and Politics, which we know to be the norm and practice in our current political experience and can not be wished away by idealism. Please take not that i have been burned by idealism which i espoused as a student leader in NANS and my University. My little experience teach me we are not ripe of universal humanist idealism in our multi-ethnic and religious country .

For a fact in the  Port Harcourt City Local Area, Okrika- Ijaws have 4  or 5 wards, while the Ikwerres have 16 or 15 wards. The population of the two groups when compared shows that the Okrika- Ijaw group population equals, if not out numbering the Ikwerre population. My own very ward is ward 20 in Port Harcourt City local Government Area. It is the second largest ward in the whole country only surpassed by one in Lagos. Its current Voters Population by last voter register is about 58 thousand Voters,(feel free to cross-check this fact from INEC). You will agree with me that we had a near credible voter registration exercise and yet not all residences got registered and more have qualified to be voters having cross the mandatory 18 years. Mind you, this is not the population of the Ward. Non of the Ikwerre 16/15 ward gets any close to this figure you have voters registerd as 9 thousand, 11 thousand the best been about  twenty some thousand (please check this fact too). The total Population figure of the ward is more than the total population of 1/3 or more of  each of the 23 LGAs in Rivers State. Wards 5, 6,7 of PHC LGA are all Okrika-Ijaw areas while ward 4 is mixed and disputed. Like I noted the combine population of these four or five Okrika Ijaw wards, which also have larger Land mass compared to Ikwerre is equal if not more than the total population of the Ikwerre 16/15 wards .

Off-course on a non-party basis they the Okirika- Ijaws will win representation seat in PHCFC 2 where they dominate and Contend well for PHCFC 1 if voting is influenced along ethnic lines. which off-course will be the case given the strong feeling of domination of the “minority” Ikwerres over the years in the LGA. The question will be asked why is this domination? given  that the okrika-Ijaws are more populated in the LGA. The electoral constituencies and Party Structures is defined on the basis of wards.  15 or 16 wards/Councillors representing relatively “fewer” Ikwerres to 4 to 5 wards/ Councillors representing relatively “more” Okrika-Ijaws.

The Okrika-Ijaws can’t control any party and so cant throw-up a candidate  for a chairmanship or have controlling majority councillors in the legislature as delegates will  be proportionate to 4:16 wards at best 5:15 wards, talk-less of controlling the LGA or throwing up an LGA chairman or a member of the federal House. Currently and in the past the two Federal legislatures have always been Ikwerres, meaning that Okrika-ijaws have never been represented at the fed house. In the Last National Assembly Mr Igo Aguma and former deputy speaker Mr Austine Okpara represented the two fed constituencies of PHC. currently Ken Chikere and another ikwerre lady represent the 2 PHCFC. off-course current politics is not issue based but driven by pecunary interest, patronage, proteges and ethnic affiliations.

If they (Okrika-Ijaws formed a party which will be a near impossibility, or take an insignificant National Party the case will be as we know it the rule of dominate party in a nation where central control and dominate national parties hold sway in the minds (not hearts) of Nigerians.

This example which I have taken time to illustrate is very strong across the country particularly among minorities in the Niger Delta and the Middle Belt areas. It is particularly very strong in my personal experience among the Ijaws in Ondo state (Apoi and Arogboo people). In Edo state Ijaws cant even boast of controll over one ward as they are scattered into several wards as minorities even though they have an estimated population of well over 450,000. In delta state the Itsekiri and Ijaw conflict in the Warri LGAs are rooted in this experience. In Akwa Ibom, the Ibeno-Ijaw people are host  Mobil Producing Nig and Easter-Obolo-Ijaws are particular case in point. off-course the strategy of making sure Ijaws are not politically together in a single state, since they seat on 75% hydrocarbon deposit and 80% Nigeria’s Coast line had informed this “divide them into political powerlessness” policy to presumed National {Majority Ethnic Group By our Interpretation} Interest.

Those with practical every day experience among the Minorities of the Middle belt can say more about their case. I am traveling extensively but quitely to understand this currently in the among the middle belt minorities. From the minorities- in Southern Adamawa, to southern Gombe, to Southern Bauchi to Southern Kaduna, Yoruba people of Kwara and Kogi  and down to the Niger/Benue through, we find unit constituencies, that will tell us that Federal constituencies cant be used for any constitutional dialogue that will be fair and credible given the current mind set of the Nigerian.

I submit that the right structuring of representation is the first basis for fairness  and equity if  we must succeed and when we get their and we will surely get their and we indeed are moving closer and closer to that destination. Nigerian and africa must evolve is political administrative structure along Gods given Natural grains of our historic and traditional social structures and systems breached by colonial experience. These are the comfort zones of our various peoples and they can initiate healthier interaction with others  and understand the value of the concept whole or larger market better rather than feeling oppressed and been asked to endure oppression for an elusive national interest which the view has majority interest This has remained the sore point of colonialism, while we continue to take the good values of our colonial experience we must also take responsibility to correct these sore point.

I conclude by noting the recent case of state Police and the duplicity of Northern Governors Forum in the Nigerian Governors Forum. They seem to be organised to hold the country backwards I mean the Northern Governors forum. Not even the Governors of Benue, Taraba, Kogi, kwara, nasarawa, kaduna, could see the political value to their people except to jang of Plateau who was courageous to stand by the NGF position. off-course they are protective of the PDP political heritage over and above the long term interest of their people and country.  They are so poisoned by dependency on the central government and sharing of resources that they fail to see and seize the opportunity to drive self-reliance and self-direct them themselves to exploit their huge nature potential for greatness. I note also with Interest Governor fashola insightful comment on the content of the constitution regarding the issue where he identified the presence of fed and state, legislatures. executives and judiciary but failsed to give  police powers to state executive. He noted the fear of abuse based on the eastern Nigerian crisis with central government and how current experimentation has not worked either for 50years. The debate for a new constitution under current structural arrangement for representation will pose similar challenge of bandwagon effect and true representatives will not emerge even in free and fair election as mainly failed politicians will manipulate the poverty and weak capacity for political mobilization among civil society combined with weak political consciousness.

I submit that we need to look closely at the issues of representation for a constituent assembly. A near effective way will be a well structured and thought through combination of ethnic groupings and civil society eg NBA, NMA, NLC, NYCN, NANS, NCWS, CAN and Jumatu nsiril Islam etc should be thoroughly analyzed and proposed for consideration.

Miabiye Kuromiema

President IYC

 


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