President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said the outcome of the proposed national conference will be forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration.
The President spoke at the Presidential Villa Abuja when Muslim faithful resident in Abuja, led by the Vice President Namadi Sambo, paid him the traditional Sallah homage.
The President who reiterated that the proposed dialogue was not for his personal interest emphasised that its timing could not have been better as the legislators at the national level were currently taking vital decisions of amending the 1999 constitution.
“This national dialogue is critical and is coming at the right time because the National Assembly is thinking about how they will amend the constitution. So the results of the discussion of course will be passed to the National Assembly,” he stressed.
President Jonathan argued that rather than read any motive into his decision to hold the national conference sceptical Nigerians should work towards ensuring that its recommendations are properly captured in our law books by the National Assembly.
He said, “It is only left for all of us Nigerians to impress it on our representatives in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly because our state and federal parliaments must work together to ensure these are properly enshrined in our constitution so that as a nation we will hand over a country that is better than what we met to our children.”
The President further assured that he and the Vice President with members of his team will continue to do their best for Nigeria so that children and future leaders of the country will be happy for it.
He noted, “We want a country that will have a direction so the discussions must have a direction. The discussion must lead Nigeria to where we want to be, not a divided Nigeria, not a Nigeria that is sown on hate, not a Nigeria that will be based on acrimony, ethnicity and tribal sentiments in the way we conduct ourselves. We must work very hard, we must talk to ourselves the way our children will not develop hate amongst themselves. And that is one of the key reasons why we decided to have a conversation as a nation.”
Justice Uwais Committee report
President Jonathan, however, recalled the Justice Uwais Committee which he set up, and passed its report to the National Assembly in 2010 as well as the Alfa Belgore Committee to consider the 2005 conference which is still with the National Assembly. He asked: “Why don’t we begin to implement some of them? We need to come up with some bills in those areas we have agreed. Of course some of those bills have not come out from the National Assembly but we believe that even in the constitutional amendment that is going on some will be useful.”
The President thanked the Muslim delegation for the traditional homage.
Earlier in his speech, Vice President Namadi Sambo commended President Jonathan for the kind of leadership he has been providing for the country particularly as the nation celebrated 53 years of independence.
He also commended the President on his outing at the just concluded 68th United Nations’ General Assembly and the victory of the Super Eagles over the Ethiopian national team on Sunday. He said the President’s visit to the team brought them good luck.
The Vice President expressed sadness over the death of some prominent members of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and other Nigerians who lost their lives in the unfortunate crisis in the northern part of the country.
Also commending the President for his genuine decision to hold a national conference that will provide Nigerians the opportunity to discuss the future of the country, Vice President Sambo called on all Nigerians to support the President to be able to deliver the dividends of democracy.
The Vice President was accompanied by the Minister of State, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide. Also in attendance were Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar; National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, and other top government functionaries.
National Dialogue: Reps will accept proposal from the Presidency— Ogene
Meanwhile, Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Publicity, Hon. Victor Ogene said, yesterday, that the House will accept proposal on the national conference from the Presidency if it finds it useful.
Ogene who spoke to Vanguard while reacting to President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration that the Presidency will forward the decisions of the proposed National Conference to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law, said that it was in the nature of the Seventh Assembly to acknowledge meaningful proposals from Nigerians, organizations and government institutions.
He said, “As we have always maintained, the House of Representatives is a House for all Nigerians and we do not reject communications from any quarters. We accept communications from individuals, organizations, corperate organizations, NBA, Presidency, Judiciary, or any organ of government and any Nigerian.”
Ogene added that though the report of the on-going constitutional amendment exercise has been laid before the House, the House could still accommodate useful inputs from Nigerians.
He said, “The constitution amendment that we are into, though the report has been laid, it’s still work in progress. And so, we are not claiming to be all knowing, if we find useful input by any segment of the Nigerian society, we are most likely to incorporate it into what we are doing.”
The legislator, however, said that the House Committee saddled with the responsibility of the exercise would not go on working on the item endlessly, saying it had a time frame assigned to it to do the work. “For us in the Seventh House of Representatives, the work of the constitution amendment review committee has a time frame. As you know, we are elected for a four-year tenure and so, the committee is working assiduously to meet up with the current mandate we have. So we cannot go on with the reviewing endlessly. It depends on when we get whatever input”, Ogene stressed.