A legal practitioner, Mr Zik Obi, on Monday supported the timing and convening of the National Conference even though the reports produced from the last conference was discarded by the then president.
Speaking as a guest on Sunrise Daily, Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Mr Obi, who was a member of the Judicial and Legal Reforms and Report Writing Committees during the 2005 National Conference, stated that the committee came out with reports but unfortunately nothing came out the reports.
He said the 2005 conference started very well with 19 committees set up but “towards the end, we got a draft constitution. We looked at it and turned it down”.
The draft, according to him, was “submitted by agents of the government”. He noted that “from that moment, things went bad” and the government lost interest in the conference, because the draft “contained one major provision about the extension of tenure of the president”.
Citing the compromises that were reached in wrapping up reports during the previous conference, the Abia-born legal practitioner maintained that “problems will arise if a consensus is not reached on certain issues that will be discussed during the conference.
“What happened at the last time was that, when the issue (allocation of federal funds) came up, those from south-south insisted on 50 per cent minimum; there were lots of debates and those from the north came out in full force to oppose it” insisting that “part of the problem we face is that people tend to look at issues from the partisan point of view. Probably if it favours your religion or the part of the country you come from,” he said.
It is recommended that issues raised during the conference must have at least 75 per cent support of members of the conference to be implemented, but Mr Obi believes that “due to the nature of the matter of the issues involved, it is going to be tough to get that,” noting that “many of the issues- raised during the previous conference- were not resolved” due to how contentious the issues were.
He also noted that Nigerians must first accept that Nigeria cannot follow the path the United Kingdom and United States operate politically because “we don’t have that same maturity yet” insisting that “most (Nigerian) politicians are immature”.
He noted that unless the issue of fiscal federalism, power structure, zonal arrangement and the mode of governance were solved, “it would not make any progress”.