National Conference: Igbo leaders insist on new constitution

Eminent Igbo leaders under the aegis of “Concerned Igbo Leaders of Thought” led by renowned constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, declared in Enugu yesterday that anything short of new constitution from the proposed national dialogue would be unacceptable to Ndigbo.

Rising from their meeting, they insisted that the new constitution should come into law through referendum, adding that its outcome should not be subjected to the National Assembly.

In what looked like a rejection of the recommendation of the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) that certain aspects of the constitution be amended, the group stated that doing so would mean continuing with the problems of the country.

Secretary of the group and former Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Prof. Elochukwu Amucheazi, who briefed journalists on the outcome of the meeting disclosed that Ndigbo was favourable to conference of ethnic nationalities where members would be nominated from their groups.
He said: “The PAC seems to be thinking of the amendment of the constitution and we met to see how to inform the president that this is not in order because we are thinking of an entirely new constitution.

“What we are saying is that we must have a way of informing the president and Nigerians that the recommendation is not in order and in trying to do this, the meeting of “Concerned Igbo Leaders of Thought” and Ohanaeze. Ndigbo are resolute that this will not help the country. We want this country to survive and we are doing all in our power to make it survive”.
Amucheazi stated that nomination into the conference should not be based on existing geo political zones or senatorial zones but on different ethnic nationalities that make up the country, stressing that it would be a denial on certain ethnic groups if representation was made on the basis of senatorial zones.
“If this is a conference of all nationalities, in order words all ethnic nationalities should be represented. What we are saying is that if we are using the geo political zones, we must make sure that all ethnic units are represented.
Again, it is not delegates through adult suffrage by individuals on their own merit but that the ethnic nationalities will have a way of nominating people to it. So we are dealing with nationalities and this is an issue that seem to be misunderstood”, he added.
He said that the position of Ndigbo on the dialogue would be made known by the end of January, adding that: “We are working out content of the constitution and when we are through with it, we are going to invite all Igbo groups to have a say at it.

Also at the meeting yesterday were Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Gary Enwo Igariwey, Mrs. Maria Okwor, Senator Offia Nwali, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, POC Umeh and Chief Ben Ndi Obi.

There were Senator Anyim Ude, Dr. Chu S. P. Okongwu, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Igwe Aja Nwachukwu, Prof. Mark Odu, Chief Enechi Onyia and Prof. Nat Aniekwu among others.

Credit: Lawrence Njoku/Guardian