Concerned Igbo leaders of thought led by legal luminary, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, have insisted on a new constitution for the country.
Rising from their meeting yesterday in Enugu, the Igbo leaders rejected the proposal of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue, led by Senator Femi Okuroumu, which recommended the amendment of the constitution. They also opposed the proposed selection of delegates to the talks on the basis of senatorial zones or federal constituencies.
Secretary of the group and former Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Prof Elochukwu Amucheazi, told reporters that the Igbo position on the conference would be made public by the end of this month.
He said they were totally against any recommendation that would have anything to do with the retention of any aspect of the 1999 Constitution just as he stressed that anything short of a new constitution would not be acceptable to Nigerians.
Amucheazi said the position of the Igbo leaders is that the conference should be for all ethnic nationalities, being the only way the people would be carried along in the process.
“The advisory council seems to be thinking of the amendment of the constitution and we met to see how to inform the president that this is not in order because we are thinking of an entirely new constitution. What we are saying is that we must have a way of informing the president and Nigerians that the recommendation is not in order and in trying to do this, you can see this is the meeting of Concerned Igbo Leaders of Thought and we are bringing in Ohanaeze to have a reconciliation in two weeks time because we want Ndigbo to be united in this.
“We want this country to survive and we are doing all in our power to make it survive. We are working out the content of the constitution and when we are through with it, we are going to invite all Igbo groups to have a say on it.
“In other words, Ndigbo have rejected the recommendation of PAC. If this is a conference of all nationalities, all ethnic nationalities should be represented. What we are saying is that if we are using the geo-political zones, we must make sure that all ethnic units are represented.
“Again, it is not delegates through adult suffrage by individuals on their own merit but that the ethnic nationalities will have a way of nominating people to it. So we are dealing with nationalities and this is an issue that seem to be misunderstood. We want ethnic nationalities and not senatorial zones”, he said.
The Igbo leaders also demanded that the new constitution should not be subjected to the approval of the National Assembly but should be subjected to a referendum.
The meeting was attended by prominent Igbo elders, including, Senator Anyim Ude, President-General of Ohanaeze, Chief Enwo Igariwey, Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, Senator Offia Nwali, Dr Chu Okongwu, Chief Ben Obumselu, Dr Dozie Ikedife, Mrs Maria Okwor, Chief Enechi Onyia (SAN), Mr. Chris Okoye, Elliot Uko and Igwe Aja Nwachukwu, among others.