NEW STATE FOR NDIGBO A MUST, say Southerners; berate Jonathan over corruption

Posted by News Express | 30 January 2013 | 3,110 times

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Leaders of Southern Nigeria have demanded the creation of a new state for Ndigbo of South-East while also lambasting the Goodluck Jonathan administration for lacking the will to decisively fight corruption.

In a communiqué issued today to capture their discussions and decisions at the Second General Assembly of the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly held yesterday at Nike Lake Resort Hotel, Enugu, the southern leaders said it is compulsory to give the South-East, which presently has the least number of five states, a new state for the sake justice and equity.

They commended the modest achievements of the Jonathan administration in the area of infrastructural development and demanded more seriousness in fighting corruption. Other key demands include stepping up the war against insecurity and the convoking of a Sovereign National Conference to discuss the future of the country.

Below is the text of the communiqué of the meeting chaired by former Vice President Dr. Alex Ekwueme (South-East) and co-chaired by Sen. Chief Edwin K. Clark (South-South) and Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi (South-West):

Attended by political and opinion leaders across the 17 southern states, the conference reviewed the state of the nation, particularly the issues of corruption, national security, infrastructure development, ecological disaster and the on-going efforts of the National Assembly to undertake a wholesome review of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and noted as follows:

a) While we recognize the powers of the National Assembly to amend provisions of the Constitution, the right and power to review and give to Nigerians a Constitution is vested in the people of Nigeria who remain the sovereign authority to do so. The constitutional right to amend the Constitution bestowed on the National Assembly by the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic does not amount to and confer on it the right and authority to review wholesomely the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. The present exercise by the National Assembly amounts to usurping the sovereign power and authority of the people to give to themselves a truly peoples constitution.

b) That the challenges of inequitable states distribution, skewed federalism which has continually exposed the structural imbalance of our country, the basis of the federating units for our federation and the place of local governments in a truly federal state are critical issues that Nigerians must and can only truly and genuinely address in a National Conference.

c) That despite the hues and cries of Nigerians corruption and greed in the country is not only endemic and cancerous, the effrontery with which it is perpetrated stems directly from the absence of executive WILL and commitment to fight it. It will be necessary for government to exercise stronger political will to fight this malaise.

d) That the unrelenting activities of the Boko Haram insurgency, particularly the recent attack on the Emir of Kano, has further reinforced our earlier stand that government must take extraordinary steps to secure lives and property to sustain our continued existence as a country.

e) Whilst we note the modest improvement in electricity power generation and stability as well as the improved state of some of the highways in the country, it should be realized that the transformation goal government has set for itself, which certainly stands to carve a peculiar niche of enduring legacy for this administration, can only become feasible if there is undiluted commitment and proactiveness to deliver core democratic dividends to the people in such critical sectors as electricity, road infrastructure, employment and poverty reduction.

Accordingly, the Assembly resolves as follows:
1) That the process of producing a constitution that truly reflects the aspirations of Nigerians cannot be the sole responsibility of members of the National Assembly. For there to be legitimacy in the process of defining a constitution for Nigeria, and as the basis for the resolution of most of the challenges that tend to tear the country apart, it is a fundamental imperative that a National Conference that would afford genuine platform for Nigerians to dialogue should be convoked to permit the emergence of a “truly peoples constitution”. The sovereign right of the people to give to themselves a constitution can neither be negotiated nor usurped.

2) That a National conference is imperative to correcting the present national structural imbalance which has foisted inequity, marginalization and giving undue advantage to the north.

3) That to bring parity between the north and south there should be created two additional states one of which must come from the South East.

4) That accordingly the Conference supports the demand of the South East zone for one extra state based on equity, justice and fairness.

5) That without prejudice to the issues aforesaid, the recognition of the present six zonal arrangements by the Constitution as the federating units of Nigeria is fundamental to the sustenance of the corporate existence and survival of our country. Accordingly, thereafter the creation of states and local governments should be the responsibility of the zonal federating units.

6) That Local Governments in Nigeria should be autonomous in terms of management, funding and governance.

7) That whereas the endemic corruption, greed and their cancerous virus should make every Nigerian a combatant, it is the primary responsibility of Government to muster the COURAGE AND WILL to decisively fight the scourge of corruption in the country.

8) That we commend the efforts of the present administration in the areas of providing Nigerians with improved transport infrastructure as witnessed in the rehabilitation of rail transportation, the on-going efforts of Julius Berger/RCC on the Lagos – Ibadan road, the improved state of the Benin - Ore road and the Enugu – Port Harcourt road as well as Onitsha – Enugu road. However, we decry the very deplorable state of other major arterial roads of economic importance such as the East - West road.

9) That our quest for true federalism which encompasses fiscal federalism can only become meaningful if people, as practiced in advanced democracies and economies, are allowed to exploit the benefits of resources in their domain. This in our consideration is one of the objectives of the Petroleum Industry Bill. We therefore urge the National Assembly to consider the necessity to pass this very important bill in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice.

10) That the prevailing height of hypocrisy and psycophancy in our polity has often given hope to falsehood and derailed many in leadership. It is of significance essence that the governed and the led must be courageous and resolute to stand for and by truth, to serve as a barometer to measure performance and good governance.

11) That given the present challenges inherent in land ownership and administration as a source of economic empowerment, it has become very necessary for the Land Use Act to be removed from the 1999 Constitution to facilitate the process of its review.

12) That also the National Youth Service Corps Act should be removed from the Constitution to enable its review from time to time as circumstances warrant.

13) Finally, the Assembly expressed its appreciation to the Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, Governor Peter Obi and the government and people of Anambra state as well as the government and people of Enugu state for their hospitality.

•Photo, courtesy Maxi Okwu, shows dignitaries at the “high table” during the conference.

Source: News Express

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