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‘National Assembly free to act on document’
The Catholic church has declared its support for the call for the restructuring of the country by turning some of the far-reaching resolutions at the 2014 national conference into laws.In a statement yesterday, the relief and development agencies of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria condemned the agitation for secession by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the ultimatum given Igbo to leave the northern states by Arewa youths, and the barrage of counter-ultimatums by ethno-regional jingoists.
The Catholic agencies, Caritas Nigeria and Justice for Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), in the statement issued by their National Director, Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey, after their statutory provincial coordinators’ meeting in Abuja called on government and its agencies to look into the root causes of the clamour and set the stage for a national dialogue involving the agitators.
The Catholic groups also invited the government “to set aside its pride and collaborate with the National Assembly to study the recommendations of all past dialogues and national conferences, to midwife acceptable solutions in a peaceful way.
“Nigeria, being the pride of Africa, should show the world once again that the Black race is capable of employing rational and peaceful methods to negotiate stalemates; not giving truth to the stereotype that the Black African is incapable of suppressing violent emotions.”
Caritas Nigeria and JDPC condemned all actions and misguided utterances from any section or group in the country that threaten the peace and unity of the nation. They called on the government, traditional leaders, religious leaders and other well-meaning Nigerians “to quickly warn their constituencies against what is seeming like simple agitations, but with the capacity to engender violence that could put millions of lives at risk.”
Besides, the National General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Musa Asake told The Guardian in a telephone interview that he would like the National Assembly to implement the resolutions of the 2014 conference.
“I am very much in support of the implementation, otherwise you are robbing Nigerians because critical issues were discussed. All that was done there was done for the good of Nigerians, so I am fully in support that it should be implemented to the fullest. Whatever suggestion the members or the delegates gave they should implement, don’t forget that they went round the country and came up with different suggestions on how to move the country forward.”
The National President, Jamatul Islamiyya of Nigeria and Overseas, Taofeek Wunmi Agbaje, said there was a need to look at the document properly.“I am really in support of the implementation because there is a need to look at the structure of Nigeria. I remember there were many conferences which the former president organised, but he still went ahead to form another committee. We are yet to see the document which the committee reviewed. If there was a conference and we are very sure that we were well-represented, they should put the recommendations out for Nigerians to see, and if there is a need, there can be a referendum. The way things are now, there is agitation everywhere in the country so there is a need for us to quickly look at the agitations. I believe the country should not go apart. We are great because we are together and by the time you begin to break into groups, we become like the old Soviet Union. It was a great country in those days, but now they are about 15 and that is why there is confusion between the Russian government and Ukriane. Russia cannot leave Ukriane, they’ve regretted so much. It is the same thing with the Southern Sudan. We should learn from these countries that are having problems now.
“There is a need for us to sit down and discuss the way forward. There must be justice. The problem we are having today was caused by the politicians. Many Nigerians don’t know much about the document because it was not out there for Nigerians to see. They spent so much taxpayers’ money on the document and how can you then abandon it?”
The Deputy Chief Imam/Missionary, Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Headquarters, Imam Morufu Onike Abdul-Azeez, said: “There is a need to look at the document before one can say categorically yes or no. However, they should implement all the areas that will make Nigeria to grow in leaps and bounds, but I will not support any area that will divide the country.”
Former President Goodluck Jonathan had submitted the report of the conference in August 2014. After five months of a debate on national restructuring held at the National Judicial Institute in Abuja, the national conference produced its draft final report, drawn from reports of the 20 committees set up during the conference.
The presidency had dismissed insinuations that the present All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government was not disposed to the implementation of the report.In what appears as a response, the presidency yesterday said the National Assembly was free to take action on the report of the 2014 conference submitted to it by the executive arm of government.
A top presidency source who craved anonymity yesterday told The Guardian that the report of the confab was in the possession of the National Assembly and therefore wondered why accusing fingers were being pointed at the executive. The source urged the parliament to clean up the document and act on it appropriately if it feels strongly about the recommendations contained therein.
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