THE Northern Elders Forum, NEF, has faulted the Senate’s move to review and alter some provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
According to the elders, federal lawmakers, since 1999, have spent huge amounts of money to fund the constitution review process without any meaningful impact on the lives of the people.
So, the Forum advised the National Assembly to direct its energy and mandate towards convincing President Muhammadu Buhari to bring an end to the insurgency in the North East and killings in most parts of the country.
The Northern Elders spoke at a briefing by NEF’s Director of Publicity, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in Abuja yesterday.
It would be recalled, that the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) had invited the public to submit memorandum to assist the “further alteration of the provisions of the Constitution (as amended)”.
The invitation said all Nigerians had only two weeks to submit their memoranda on all aspects requiring amendment of the current Constitution.
However, NEF queried the value of such efforts in the past, saying it was convinced that this repetitive initiative of the Senate was a predictable waste of time, resources and energy of the nation, and should not be supported by Nigerians.
NEF stated: “Nothing fundamental or of any value has come out of these grand schemes to exploit our collective desire to address our political and economic fundamentals. This National Assembly is also following suit, and it should not be encouraged on this path.
“Nigeria’s future rests largely on its willingness to address major constraints to equity and justice, a functional structure, consistent good governance, security for all citizens, a credible electoral process, growing understanding between and among all groups and an economy that grows and narrows inequalities between classes and regions.”
Therefore, they said these national goals could not be achieved by a process that routinizes “wasteful expenditure around false hopes.”
The Forum maintained: “The Legislature and executive branches of government have large quantities of reviews, recommendations and reports from past attempts at amending the Constitution.
“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 wide-ranging reviews of the Constitution.
“The Forum specifically reminds legislators and other leaders from the North that security of our communities, reduction of crushing poverty and widening distrust among communities should be their priorities.
“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, mutual respect and integrity of the process.
“A Nigerian Peoples’ Conference on Review of the Constitution will benefit from past work in this direction in addition to contemporary challenges which the country needs to address in a context that allows free and productive engagements without pre-determined ends.
“The outcome of this conference should be submitted to the two arms of government which should provide for a referendum in the Constitution so that Nigerians can directly decide on how they want their nation to be structured and function.
“The North is willing to discuss other options that will do justice to the current Constitution and the future of our great country.