We Need Free, Fair Elections, Not National Conference – ACF

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The umbrella body of the North, Arewa Consultative Forum, has said that the proposed national conference will not be “a magic wand,” saying that the country did not record any achievement with the conferences held since independence.

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The body said what the country lacked was the political will to realise its dreams.

In an interview with Punch, the National Publicity Secretary, ACF, Mr. Anthony Sani, noted that the forum was not opposed to a national dialogue but preferred free and fair elections to it.

He said there was no basis in the claim that ethno-religious and political sentiments shared by lawmakers would make them incompetent to handle the national dialogue.

Sani said, “Are you suggesting that because the proposed national dialogue will be by ethnic nationalities, the delegates will cease to be Nigerians with distorted values? Will those who will select the delegates come from the moon? And will the legislatures have no place in the order of things anymore?

“While not opposed to the dialogue, it is our considered opinions that what remains lacking in our quest to move the nation forward is consciously directed efforts to make common desires possible and then actual.

“The starting point is free and fair elections under the watch of the Independent National Electoral Commission, especially if Nigerians make consciously-directed efforts and ensure that votes count, so that the ensuing leaders will be accountable to the people and make poverty history.”

Meanwhile, the Igbo socio-cultural body, Ohanaeze Ndi’gbo, has said, contrary to the opinion of some northerners that the conference should be held after the 2015 general elections, it should be held “immediately.”

It noted that the nation needed to discuss a myriad of national challenges that required urgent attention.

The Publicity Secretary of the body, Mr. Osita Oganah, said those, who opposed the convocation of the conference before the general elections, did so out of selfishness. He said restructuring the polity had become imperative for good governance.

He noted that where there was good federalism and power decentralisation, many politicians would not find politics lucrative anymore. He added that such a field would be left with only those who wanted to serve the country.

Oganah said, “What Nigeria needs now, most importantly, is restructuring. Since President Goodluck Jonathan has given this opportunity, we will be stupid to say that (2015) election is more important, given the state of anarchy in Nigeria now and coupled with the United States of America’s prediction that Nigeria will break up in 2015.

“It will come to pass, if we still hold election and forget about national conference. The whole idea is that we should restructure immediately and bring all the six geo-political zones to the same level; same number of states, local government and revenue allocation. Each zone will be federating units and not states anymore.”

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