National Political Reform Dialogue: My Observations
Sani Ibrahim Taura
Just like the current political reform conference, National conference in Nigeria has been adopted with the sole aim of addressing multifaceted problems confronting the country.
In 1958, for instance, 106 Nigerian delegates attended a conference in the city of London that took a very hard look at what was then the Nigerian federation and opted for independence. Thereafter, there were the constituent Assemblies of 1979, 1989, and 1994/95 in Nigeria.
However, of recent, the agitation for a national conference, and later the Sovereign National conference (SNC) is sought from a section of the country where the call is seen to be hysteric and pronounced. The South-west were seen to have a vanguard led by Prof. Wole Soyinka and co, going by their opinions that the call is necessary since Nigeria runs the risk of becoming just a passage in history. In short, their argument was, given the near-collapse of the Nigerian project, under the military and the history of the instability in the polity, coupled with the hostile relationship among the desperate ethnic nationalities in the country Nigerians need to deliberate on the future of the expiring un ion. They therefore advocated for the SNC.
What they had wanted for the SNC was a broader representation of the broad framework of a national group or their linguistic expressions that can produce a broad based constitutional frame work under which the mood of the nation would be captured and duly reflected in establishing a government with sound political legitimacy, particularly as the various provisions of the 1999 constitution are inconsistent with the practice of federalism.
The current NPRC therefore seems to have been piloted by the present Olusegun Obasanjo Regime to address a national question aforesaid. The question that can readily come to all discerning minds is: is the current NPRC aimed at constitutional review? This answer therefore brings in to question the moral and legal justification of the dialogue by the discerning observers.
But what is at stake is that for the fact that it clashes with legislative duties as provided under section 9 of the 1999 constitution, the constitution it self is a military breed so incoherent and incomprehensive enough to address the multifaceted national problems affecting the country. The hitherto inaugurated Presidential committees on constitutional review (PCRC) that ought to have addressed the issue was superseded by the present NPRC based on their on their recommendations.
My submission here is that: there is urgent and rightful need to make an avenue for a constitutional review that can address the multifaceted problems bedeviling the nation. The NPRC to my observations should look in to the following:-