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Northern Elders Kick Against Review of 1999 Constitution

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has rejected the latest publication by the Senate ad-hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The NEF Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement obtained by Naija News on Sunday, said the review had no value.

According to NEF, Nigerians genuinely concerned by waste in governance at this difficult time when the economy is facing unprecedented challenges should not support such moves by lawmakers.

The Northern Elders said: “The Forum is convinced that this initiative of the Senate is of no value and a predictably waste of time, resources and energy of the nation, and should not be supported by any Nigerian genuinely concerned by waste in governance at this difficult time when the economy is facing unprecedented challenges.”

The group stated that virtually every National Assembly since 1999 had spent huge amounts of Nigerian people’s money on jamborees that gave them false hope that the three arms of government respect genuine desire of Nigerians for a holistic and genuine review and amendment of the 1999 Constitution.

They noted that nothing fundamental or of any value has come out of these grand schemes to exploit Nigerians collective desire to address our political and economic fundamentals.

NEF pointed out that, “Nigeria’s future rests largely on its willingness to address major constraints to equity and justice, adding that a functional structure, consistent good governance, security for all citizens, growing understanding between and among all groups and an economy that grows and narrows inequalities between and classes and regions.”

The group said the legislature and the executive branches of government had large quantities of reviews, recommendations and reports from past attempts at amending the Constitutions.

“These represent enough resources for a review if the legislature is serious about this vital national priority. Even this is not likely to produce a genuine effort to address the basic requirements of securing a stable, secure and prosperous Nigeria, because both arms of this administration are unlikely to accept to put through a wide-ranging review of the Constitution.

“The Northern Elders Forum recommends the alternative of leaders of thought, elders, groups and professional organizations and representatives of government to freely discuss every element of our co-existence as a country under principles of voluntarism, genuine representation and utmost mutual respect of the process.

“A Nigerian Peoples’ Conference on Review of the Constitution will benefit from past work in this direction and contemporary challenges the country needs to address in a context that allows free expression without pre-determined ends.

“The outcome of this Conference should be submitted to the two arms of government which may arrange and fund a referendum on the recommendations of the Conference for Nigerians to decide on how they want their nation to be structured and function,” the forum advised.