Second Republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, has called on the National Assembly to avoid delays and treat the report of the recently-concluded National Conference with all seriousness, unlike the way it does to other bills.
Ekwueme said that the National Assembly should go ahead and approve the report instead of “taking it sentence by sentence”, stating that it should have been agreed earlier how the report of the confab should be ratified – whether through a referendum or by the National Assembly.
The former VP warned that if it goes to the National Assembly, it would be treated the same way the lawmakers treat other bills.
Ekwueme spoke with journalists in Abuja during the inauguration and commissioning of “Citadel and Towers”, a multi-billion Naira mega church edifice of the House on the Rock Churches, which would be used as a centre of National Transformation.
His words: “The decision whether the report of the 2014 confab should be ratified by the National Assembly or through a referendum should have been taken before the conference itself started. During our time (1995), it was a military government and there was no National Assembly and the document setting us up specified that whatever decision we arrived at will be accepted without amendment by the military government.
“In this case, the issue of whether it should go to the National Assembly or through a referendum should have been agreed before it started. If it goes to the National Assembly, it would be done the same way they do with Bills.
“They will take each section one by one, clause by clause, phrase by phrase and they will start patching and patching. But bearing in mind that the final report was approved unanimously, I think if people are logical and if the National Assembly itself means well, they should go ahead and approve it and not taking it sentence by sentence”.
Speaking on the recommendation by the confab for the creation of more states in Nigeria, the elder statesman said what was inherited from the British colonial masters and the nation’s founding fathers was not a multiplicity of states.
He said, “Well, you know my attitude. In the 1995 Conference Report, I was of the view that each of the six geopolitical zones should become a federating unit because in fairness to our founding fathers, what we inherited from them and from the British government was not a multiplicity of states.
“What we inherited and what we agreed (in the 1960 conference) was a country made up of three regions. It was agreed by all our political leaders and given to us at independence. My argument has always been that there were two things wrong with the structure we had at independence and thereafter.
“The first pitfall of it was that it brought a situation where it seemed that the Northern region has a population that was bigger than all the other regions altogether. If the region decides to support a political party, that party automatically becomes majority in parliament and under the parliamentary system, will produce Prime Minister.
“Which was why they didn’t bother about what was happening elsewhere. There was the Northern Peoples Congress which only focused on Northern region. Secondly, within each region, we have the majority ethnic recognition”.