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Igbo Leaders Insist on Referendum To Determine Outcome of CONFAB

Ignatius Okpara, Enugu

The Professor Ben Nwabueze led Concerned Igbo Leaders of Thought Thursday insisted that the outcome of the proposed National Conference be subjected to a referendum before it could form the new Nigerian constitution.

The Igbo leaders hinged their position on the premise that many countries of the globe that evolved new constitutions toed the referendum process before implementing their new constitutions.

The Igbo group also canvassed that embracing referendum was only logical and remains a way of democratizing the new constitution, adding that over 85 percent of countries of the world adopted referendum in bringing into being their constitutions.

“So the position of Ndigbo is that the constitution must be approved through a new referendum,” said the secretary of the group, Prof. Elochukwu Amaucheazi, who addressed newsmen shortly at the end of their meeting in Enugu.

The Igbo leaders emphasized that the national dialogue should be a conference of all ethnic nationalities/peoples of Nigeria and not of interest and pressure groups; “It is important and critical with main purpose of producing a new constitution for Nigeria.

igbotitlesProf. Amucheazi a former Director of National Orientation Agency NOA, said “We believe that it is a new constitution that is being produced, that the constitution will go for a referendum. That is the way of democratizing constitutions and we know that 85 percent of countries of the world had adopted referendum in bringing into being their constitutions.

“We accept that there will be an enabling law for the conference. We expect that this law will also make provision for a referendum. It will be embodied in the enabling law that there will be a referendum for the new the new constitution.

“On the modus operandi, we had discussions on how to proceed in the conference, some said there should be a draft that will be brought before the conference as happened in the 90s. We said no, that this is completely a new constitution and the ethnic nationalities should be involved in drafting the new constitution. They could start with a talk shop, we said nothing should be swept under the carpet, so the conference will discuss every raised issue, they can even spend one month canvassing all issues.

“Meanwhile, the conference itself will then constitute a committee which from these issues canvassed will draw a draft, that is, the draft will be prepared by a committee of the conference and the committee must be representatives of the zones. So every zone must be represented. Having done that draft, the house reconvenes to go through the draft, get it approved and send it to the legal draftsmen. When they complete their work, the product of these legal draftsmen will again be sent to the entire house of the conference to vent the draft prepared by the legal draftsmen and finally approve of it. When it approves it, that is the constitution that is what will now go for a referendum.

“These are the steps we thought should be followed at the national conference and that is the position of Ndigbo.”

Present at the meeting were foremost constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze; wife of the first president of Nigeria, Dr. Uche Azikiwe; Chief Enechi Onyia (SAN); Prof. Lawrence Ocho; Prof. Ben Obumselu; Prof. Elochukwu Amucheazi, Senator Anyim Udeh, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, Senator  Offia Nwali, Arch Bishop Mazwel Anikwenwa, former minister of education, Igwe Aja Nwachukwu,Evangelist Elliot Uko of Igbo Youth Movement IYM, amongst others.

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