• Funding modalities being worked out • Conference an imperative, says Methodist Prelate
By Yemi Akinsuyi in Abuja
The National Assembly may be launching an extensive engagement with Nigerians at the grassroots as a way of fostering understanding on key national issues before the end of the year, it has emerged.
It was learnt also that the project’s other aim is to douse the unrelenting clamour for a sovereign national conference. However, National Assembly sources reveal that funding for the programme “is still a bit of a constraint”.
This revelation comes as the Prelate of the Methodist Church in Nigeria, Dr. Sunday Ola Makinde, maintained that attempts to skirt the call for the convocation of a sovereign national conference are akin to “postponing the evil day”, adding that it’s an option that can help guarantee peaceful co-existence for Nigeria’s diverse ethnic groups.
“Sovereign National Conference is an imperative and postponing it is like postponing the evil day. We must be able to talk and agree how we could live together in harmony. There is no tribe that is greater than any other tribe in Nigeria and I’m happy that someone from a minority group in the country emerged as the President of the nation.
“I am a disciple of SNC; we cannot make progress with regard to poverty eradication in the country, resource control and others without a national conference.”
The call for a sovereign national conference has long been a divisive issue among Nigerians with the National Assembly all but foreclosing its possibility with its insistence that being the people’s representatives, members were already speaking on behalf of their various constituents’ and addressing their fears. But the legislators are hopeful this new move which has been conceived to run simultaneously with the constitution review exercise being undertaken by the legislators would help strike some compromise.
Although, deputy president of The Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, did not actually confirm the new plan by the National Assembly he told THISDAY concerning the public hearing:
“Very soon; that should be around second week of October. In fact, all things being equal, the national public hearing will hold on 11th, 12th, and 13th of October, while the zonal hearing comes up on 25th, 26th, and 27th. In any case, we should be rolling out the full information from the last week of September. It will be advertised to avail Nigerians the full information and opportunity to make inputs.
“In fact, we are taking the issue of participation very seriously. Our lawmakers will go to their constituencies to mobilise and educate their people. We will hold phone-in radio programmes in most and possibly all the states where members will sit in the studio to engage the public in our indigenous languages.”
THISDAY gathered that conscious that the programme may be hampered by insufficient funds, the legislators might be approaching some donor agencies.