Yoruba Summit Group aligns with Northern Elders Forum, opposes Senate constitutional review

September 3, 2020
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The Yoruba Summit Group (YSG) on Thursday supported the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) in opposing the proposed amendment of the Nigerian constitution by the National Assembly. The group also supported the proposal of the Northern Elders Forum that the Nigerian constitution will be better amended if the Nigerian people assemble to negotiate a new constitution.

The Publicly Secretary of the Yoruba Summit Group, Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo, in a statement on Thursday acknowledged the statement of the Northern Elders Forum on the planned review of the constitution by the Senate. He remarked that there is now a unanimity from all sections of the country to jettison the 1999 Constitution and fashion a new one acceptable to all Nigerians.

The Yoruba Summit Group observed that the banditry and insurgency ravaging the north, in addition to the dire state of the economy may have concentrated the minds of the northern leaders to what Yoruba leaders have been saying all along that: “We need to sit down together to determine anew how different sections of our country would live together!”

The Group lamented that years after independence, “Nigeria had continued to falter, fumble and wobble in a morass of administrative confusion due primarily to structural defect occasioned by a series of military incursions that dissolved regionalism in favor of a centralized structure that finally forced a skewed constitution on the nation.”

The Group declared: “the Yorùbá will not forget the evil done to them in the annulment of the June 12, 1993, elections and all the other events culminating into the birth of the obnoxious 1999 Constitution written mostly by the then Attorney General, Yadudu.

“We can never forget the blood of our sons and daughters upon which this unworkable constitution was berthed.”

The Yoruba Summit Group indicated that the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) perceives the planned constitutional review as an exercise in futility and wastefulness. “This is based on previous attempts and the little delivered in satisfying the concerns of majority of the country. The Yoruba Summit Group (YSG) cannot fault the NEF on this,” the statement read in part.

The YSG further agreed that “Nigeria’s future rests largely on its willingness to address major constraints to equity and justice, a functional structure, consistent good governance, security for all citizens, a credible electoral process,  growing understanding between and among all groups and an economy that grows and narrows inequalities between and classes and regions. This cannot be achieved by a process that routinizes wasteful expenditure around false hopes.”

The Group argued that while the Senate is the path recognised to amend the constitution, it is not difficult to see the reluctance of the National Assembly to do what is needful. “The truth is, the bi-cameral legislature and the presidential system is unsustainable, given the state of our economy. The Parliamentary system is what is needed, and it would require sustained pressure from all sections of the country for our senators to tow the path of patriotism rather than their personal benefits and ambition.

“Hence, we agree with The NEF’s recommendation for leaders of thought, elders, groups and professional organizations and representatives of government to freely discuss every element of our co-existence as  a country,” Yoruba Summit Group declared .

YSG said it is aware of all sorts of tricks and delay tactics that can be used to dampen the clamour for the restructuring of the country, noting that this review embarked upon when 2023 is around the corner, may be one of them.

“If the senate is honest and serious about solving the constitutional problems, they have enough information and resources at their disposal to use and do what is right without a time-wasting call for memoranda.

“The 2014 CONFAB report and the Draft Constitution by Afẹ́nifẹ́re, Voice of Reason, among others, are available and in the public domain,” Yoruba Summit Group further declared.

The Yoruba Summit Group cautioned that the Nigerian polity is bursting in her seams and has very few credible options for survival left.

“The Covid-19 Pandemic and the attendant decline in world economy should tell us not to expect any help soon from abroad. A teeming unemployed youth population, rising food prices, seemingly unstoppable insurgency and banditry, low morale in the Army and the recent events in Mali should tell our senators that Time is. indeed, of essence,” Yoruba Summit Group highlighted.

According to Adejumo, the YSG, therefore, recommended:

That NASS should set up a Technical CONSTITUTION DRAFTING Committee to work out a new framework into a document as basis for all ethnic nationalities to live in peace as collaborative neighbours, using existing documents in the public domain.

The Committee should be mandated to produce guidelines that will facilitate the voluntary reconfiguration and realignments by ethnic nationalities, sub-ethnic nationalities, clans and communities as would later form the basis of their mutual accommodation to live together in a True Federation or to actively seek self-determination in order to actualize their God-given human rights under international laws.

The outcome is to be the subject of a National Referendum in order to secure the consent of the Nigerian people.

National Assembly to adopt the Doctrine of Necessity once again, by making the Law with provisions on processes to guide the historic transition from the 1999 Constitution until the enactment of a new Constitutional order is attained.

The Yoruba leaders advocated that the new order shall be the basis of any further elections in Nigeria. “This means that there should be no election before this exercise is completed. Waiting till 2023 without providing a brand new framework for mutual coexistence is a gamble no patriot should be willing to take,” the Group warned.

“The YSG, hereby extends a hand of fellowship to our brethren in the Northern Elders Forum and other community leaders in the Southern and Middle Belt Regions toward making the above proposals for peaceful and orderly change possible, so that all communities can have their faith restored in a nation where justice, fairness and equity shall reign once again,” the statement concluded.

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