Last week members of the National Assembly took another decision that may deepen the crack in their relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari as they heeded to clarion call by Nigerians for the government to commence implementation of the 2014 national conference recommendations. Prior to now President Buhari had given intention that the confab report is only good enough for the shelf to gather dust.
During newspaper interviews to mark his first anniversary in office last week, President Buhari said despite the pressure from Nigerians for him to revisit the confab report, he had not even read the report and that it would remain in the archives where according to him it rightly belongs.
He said: “I advised against the issue of National Conference. You would recall that ASUU was on strike then for almost nine months. The teachers in the tertiary institutions were on strike for more than a year, yet that government had about N9billion to organise that meeting (National Conference), and some (members) were complaining that they hadn’t even been paid. I never liked the priority of that government on that particular issue, because it meant that what the National Assembly could have handled was handed to the Conference, while the more important job of keeping our children in schools was abandoned. That is why I haven’t even bothered to read it or ask for a briefing on it, and I want it to go into the so-called archives.”
Mr. President’s reluctance to revisit the confab report, rather than dampen demands for its implementation, only succeeded in swelling the region of groups and individuals across the country demanding for its implementation.
In response to this swelling demand the House of Representatives special ad hoc committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution formally adopted the report of the 2014 National Conference as part of its working document.
In a press statement, the chief press secretary to the deputy speaker, Wole Oladimeji said the decision to adopt the report of the National Conference was taken at a working session/retreat of the committee recently held at TRANSCORP Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
He said copies of the report had been circulated to members of the committee to go through and come up with recommendations to the committee while the consultants to the committee had given a report to advise the committee on how to go about it.
He added that some of the salient proposals in the report would be turned into draft bills, which would be presented to the House for adoption and passage.
Towing the position of the lower chamber, the Senate late last week Friday faulted President Buhari’s position on the report of the 2014 National conference, insisting that parts of the report would be used for the amendment of the nation’s constitution.
Some senators said the implementation of the recommendations contained in the 2015 Confab report, would go a long way to solve the various social, economic and political challenges currently facing Nigeria.
The senators agreed that the Confab report represented the genuine opinion of Nigerians from all walks of life across the country on how to faithfully move the nation forward.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, who is also of the upper chamber constitution review committee, maintained that the problems facing the country would be solved to a great extent when all, or part of the confab report was implemented.
He also cautioned the All Progressives Congress controlled Federal Government against playing politics with the report in the interest of the entire nation.
He said, “The most sincere way to actually address the various social and economic problems currently facing the country is to put politics aside and allow the National Assembly use all or part of the recommendations in the Confab report during its constitution review exercise.
“The report is the best thing that could happen to this country because it contained provisions and recommendations that could assist us as a nation. The problem of Nigeria will continue if we neglect the Confab report.” Also, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti – Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, advised top government functionaries at all tiers, to forget about politics and explore ways to move the nation forward.
He said, “The issue of politics should end after election. Both the party in government and the opposition should collaborate towards ensuring that policies and programmes aimed at moving the country forward, are implemented.
“The Federal Government should revisit the issue of the Confab report because apart from the fact that it contained recommendations that could restructure the country and end all the social crises currently being experienced, it was carried out with the taxpayers’ money.
“There is nothing wrong with the provisions contained in the Confab report, the senate would also ensure that part of the report form part of the review we would carry out in the 1999 Constitution.”
Also responding to the president’s assertion, some prominent Nigerians tackled the president, insisting that major highlights of the conference that should be implemented.
One of the delegates to the conference and Obi of Onitsha, HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, called on President Buhari to revisit the recommendations of the 2005 and 2014 National Conferences to address prevailing challenges in the country.
The first class traditional ruler, who made copious references to the 2005 National Political Reform Conference convened by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and the 2014 National Conference by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, argued that if the recommendations could be extracted and implemented, 80 per cent of the nation’s problems would have been resolved.
Igwe Achebe spoke at a reception held in his honour by the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP), Bodija, Ibadan.
Achebe said Nigeria’s challenges would have been lighter if the recommendations of the past National Conferences were implemented.
“We as Nigerians have to work to actualise peace. Nigerians are probably saying that the governance of this country is over centralized.
“Most of the decisions are made in Abuja and by the time it gets to the grassroots here most of them have been diluted.
“The Niger Delta people are asking for greater share of the natural resource. Like in 2005 and 2014, we had National political conferences under former President Olusegun Obasanjo and immediate past President Jonathan.
“They conveyed National Conferences and if you look at the recommendations, you will see that the recommendations actually addressed 75 to 80 percent of the problems facing Nigeria.
“Why can’t we extract from the recommendations to solve these crisis in the land. The case of the Niger Delta people, you will find the recommendation there in the report”.
Another elder statesman, General Zamani Lekwot (rtd) is of the view that the 2014 National Conference report is the real formula to restructure this country and implementing the report is a solution to the nation’s problems.
His words: “Ignoring the entire report would amount to asking where Nigeria is going because, during the conference, we had the best of Nigerians, all professions, age and class of people who represented various groups as well as the group of elder statesmen.
“The implementation of the report can be done in phases, but throwing away the entire report will not help the country. Implementing the report will boost our economy, it would boost investment as that would help create a very conducive atmosphere for businesses to thrive and investors will come to the country.
“Implementing the report will also boost agriculture which used to be our mainstay, water would be improved, the inflation would be checked as well as lay a solid foundation for the development of the country. Implementing the conference report will address the issue of insecurity in the land. During the National Conference, I learnt a lot from other Nigerians, who were delegates.”
Another elder statesman and former Permanent Secretary in Rivers State who was a delegate to the conference, Dr. Patricia Ogbonnaya said “It is being narrow-minded and unpatriotic because the president cannot claim that the report is entirely useless to the development of our country Nigeria.
“He (Buhari) should be reminded of the calibre of Nigerians who were at the conference. They were men and women who have excelled in their various fields of endeavour, including good performance as public and civil servants from the teething period of this country. Mr. President should know that no single individual has a monopoly of knowledge; he should take the good parts of the report and discard the so-called bad parts if he so wishes.”
As Nigerians await President Buhari’s reaction to the decision of the two chambers of the National Assembly to adopt the 2014 confab report as working document, political observers and public analysts in the country are of the view that President Buhari will further alienate himself from the people if his administration refuses to heed the call for implementations of the report. The country is presently witnessing agitations from various groups and it is widely believed that these agitations can be curtailed by restructuring as contained in the 2014 national conference report.

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