Southern Senators’ Forum, yesterday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately commence measures aimed at implementing the 2014 National Conference report. The lawmakers representing different political parties in the country who rose from a three-day conference in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, tasked President Buhari to immediately set up a platform for governors, members of the National Assembly, Houses of Assembly, political leaders, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders, to discuss the report’s implementation mechanism.
The conference was convened by the Peoples’ Democratic Party–led administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The All Progressive Congress (APC), which was then in the opposition, had boycotted the conference, on which basis the current APC-led government has consistently maintained that it would not implement the report. Political analysts have, however, argued that the National Assembly could on its own take key recommendations of the conference as private member bills and pass them or include them as amendments in the ongoing constitution review exercise.
The position of the senators was contained in a four-point communiqué read by its Chairman, Senator Hope Uzodinma, at the end of the conference, which was themed: “National Unity and Restructuring.” According to the communiqué, the forum asked the leadership of the National Assembly to also open debate on the same document so that the implementation thereof would be expedited.
The communiqué also requested that while the unity of the country could not be compromised, the forum believed that the principles on which the country was created by the founding fathers had been eroded, hence the need for a restructuring of Nigeria to create a new order, where equity, justice and peace would prevail.
According to Uzodinma, “After presentation of papers, contributions and general brainstorming, it was resolved that Nigeria and Nigerians have come a long way. As such, it has become imperative and in the interest of all to live together as one united family under one indivisible and indissoluble country with justice, equity and fairness. While the unity of Nigeria should not and cannot be compromised under any circumstance, it has become apparent that the foundation upon which Nigeria was built at independence in 1960 has been eroded. There is a need to return to the original dream of true federalism, which was a product of negotiation, compromise and accommodation.”