Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jonathan Plans Sovereign National Conference


President Goodluck Jonathan has concluded plans to organize a Sovereign National Conference, Sunday Trust learnt in Abuja at the weekend.
Top government officials who spoke on condition anonymity said the Federal government has already gone far with the preparation and planning of the SNC where all ethnic groups in the country will nominate their delegates to the confab.
Sources in the National Assembly said Jonathan had requested both Senate President David Mark, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, to nominate two senators and two House members to represent the Federal legislature in the SNC.
However, the source said, Mark and Tambuwal both turned down the request to nominate MPs to the conference insisting that, the National Assembly will not be a party to it.
“I can confirm to you that both Senate president and the Speaker have received request from Mr. President to nominate two members from each of the chamber to be delegates to the SNC.
But they have turned down the request because we believe it is illegal and it was an attempt to give it a legal coloration when lawmakers are part of it,” a principal officer said.
“Our understanding is that, the government is desperate in its attempt to Balkanize Nigeria by insisting on the SNC and we won’t be here as true representatives of the Nigerian people and allow it happen,” the legislator said.
Speaking at the commencement of the Senate’s third legislative session on Tuesday, Senator Mark said, a conference of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities called to foster frank and open discussions of the national question can “certainly find accommodation in the extant provisions of the 1999 constitution which guarantee freedom of expression and association.”
“I hasten to add that it would be unconstitutional to clothe such a conference with sovereign powers,” Mark said. The senate president maintained that the National Assembly, consisting of the elected representatives of the Nigerian people cannot be ignored and that “to circumvent the constitution and its provisions on how to amend it and repose sovereignty in an unpredictable mass will be too risky and a gamble and may ultimately do great disservice to the idea of one Nigeria.”
Mark further argued that, such a conference whether sovereign or not is not a magic wand and that the heights attained by great nations were not made by sudden flights.

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