Deputy Senate President and Chairman, Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday, explained why the proposed National Conference cannot be ‘sovereign’ as clamoured for by some people.
Specifically, he explained that the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference without legal and constitutional framework could end up throwing the country into a state of anarchy.
Senator Ekweremadu made this known when the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue, Dr Femi Okurounmu, led members of his committee to him on consultation.
However, the Deputy Senate President hinted that the National Assembly was already formulating plans on how the result of the exercise could be used to give Nigeria a new constitution.
“If we say we are a country that believes in the rule of law, we must do everything in accordance to the law and not the rule of the tongue. So, when we hear people talk about sovereign national conference, there must be a legal framework for it,” Senator Ekweremadu said.
He added, “You don’t wake up when you have a constitutional sovereignty in place and begin to say you want a sovereign national conference. That is like imposing the will of some people on everybody without any legal basis for what they are doing. Otherwise, we are calling for anarchy.”
On the provision of a legal framework by the National Assembly that would support the outcome of the committee as well as subsequent others that would be set up in that regard, Ekweremadu said, “For us at the National Assembly, the most important job in this exercise is to provide the necessary legal framework that will support whatever the outcome of both your own committee and that committee that will come after it.
“We envisaged, as I said earlier from works that were done over these years that a day such as this would come. We proposed to our colleagues a possible amendment to section 9 of the Constitution that would provide a legal basis to a possible constitution because today, what we have in our Constitution, the process for amendment, there is no such provision in this constitution that can successfully power a new Constitution”, he added.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Senator Femi Okurounmu explained that the primary focus of the committee was to consult widely on the agenda of the conference.
“Our main job is to consult widely with all Nigerians in respect of the proposed national conference, particularly with a view to deciding what should be on the agenda of the conference, what should be the size, duration and how membership of the conference should be chosen, what should be the legal basis for the conference and transmission of its outcome to Nigerians.
“We have stopped over in Jos and Akure. We are making 13 stops on the whole. As one of the most powerful bodies, we are here to confer with you,” he explained.