True to our character of re-inventing the wheel, there are already some whispers across Nigeria, asking that we should hold yet another confab in the nation. This is not unrelated to the general atmosphere of insecurity pervading the country and the incessant killings by the so-called killer herdsmen.
But asking for a new confab is just like reinventing the wheel. We have had many of them already. From Yakubu Gowon’s 1966 Constitutional Conference to Murtala Muhammed’s Constitution Drafting Committee of 1975, the search for a better organised nation has always been on. In fact, with the possible exception of General Muhammadu Buhari’s military government of 1984/85, every other head of state and civilian president had always seen a need for a conference of sorts, including General Sani Abacha who organised a national constitutional conference in 1994.
And recently in 2005, Olusegun Obasanjo’s National Political Reform Conference chaired by Ahmed Makarfi, preceded President Goodluck Jonathan’s Kutigi-led National Conference of 2014.
We therefore don’t need more papers, what we need do is to urgently implement the contents of previous confab reports, since the problems of Nigeria have largely remained the same, only attaining newer and more dangerous dimensions.
President Buhari should urgently call for a referendum, if not on the whole report of any particular conference, at least on the issues that are very pressing and currently threatening the very existence of the nation.
To address the anxieties of the populace vis a vis the political class, I suggest there should be three votes for every issue to be adopted. Vote 1, being the result of the Referendum; Vote 2, that of the President, and Vote 3 from the National Assembly. An issue with at least two votes automatically comes to being and is immediately adopted into the constitution without any need for further debate. However, the votes of the National Assembly and President combined cannot be the two votes. It has to be referendum + either of the other two. e.g. REF (no) +NA (no) + PRES (yes) =NO. REF (yes) +NA (no) + PRES (Yes) =YES. REF (no) +PRES (yes) +NA (yes) =Impasse.
In the final analysis, whatever needs to be done for Nigeria needs to be done urgently!
Dr. Odunayo Talabi,
Ikeja, Lagos .