We call on the President to honour his earlier pledge to Nigerians and take the Confab report to the people for a referendum; it shows respect and consideration for the people's view, which he presides over.
While receiving the National Conference report from its Chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi, on Thursday, August 21, 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan stated that he will present it to National Assembly and the National Council of State for ratification and implementation; adding that the Confab's discourse was reflection of current issues in the light of present socio-political evolution in Nigeria. Mr. President also promised that he will ensure that the efforts of the 492-member conference did not end up in vain.
However, this is in sharp contrast to what Jonathan assured Nigerians of, when the Conference was inaugurated in March, 2014. He had assured Nigerians that whatever the outcome of the Conference, it would be sent to Nigerians for a referendum; invariably, to make the expected new constitution, there from, the peoples' document. No doubt, it was in that hope that a cross-section of Nigerians anxiously awaited the outcome of the conference.
This newspaper is therefore surprised at the volte-face of the President in eating his words to now insist on presenting the Confab report to the National Assembly and the National Council of State. This is somewhat a confirmation of the posture that is before the public domain that Nigerian political leaders do not seem to respect or abide by their public pronouncements. It is rather unfortunate, as it smacks of disregard for the people.
Besides, we see a lacuna in the presentation of the Confab report to the National Assembly. How will the National Assembly see the document in the first place? Sending the report to the National Assembly will be a sure way to killing it and making it go the way of all other such conferences. Among many other contending issues in the report, it is difficult to see how members of the National Assembly will subscribe to part-time legislature as proposed by the Confab.
Nigerians are all too aware that members of the National Assembly are least representative of the common interest of the people. They are seen to only represent their selfish and parochial interests; that best explains the poor performance of the 7th National Assembly. Taking the report to them will surely not be in the national interest. Let's consider their performance and their lack lustre approach to national issues, time and its essence; and it is arguable that taking the report to the National Assembly is a journey in the wrong direction.
More imperative is the need for the people to be involved in the making of their constitution; the Confab report presents a golden opportunity for that. At least let Nigerians decide, for once, what is good and what is not good for them through a referendum. The political leadership should not always decide. We agree that the National Assembly ought to be a representation of the people, but we are equally aware, and a great number of discerning Nigerians too, that they have not represented the people in altruism. We call on the President to honour his earlier pledge to Nigerians and take the Confab report to the people for a referendum; it shows respect and consideration for the people's view, which he presides over.