Only 2014 Confab, referendum can address agitations in Nigeria – Agbasiere

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Lawrence Nwimo, Awka

A popular Lawyer and human right activist, Kelechi Agbasiere, has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to implement the 2014 CONFAB report of the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration or conduct a Referendum to end agitations in Nigeria.

He noted that any of the two recommendations, would be a solution to the calls of marginalization in the country.

Addressing a press conference to mark his 40th birthday in Awka, the Anambra State Capital over the weekend, Agbasiere, pointed out that while leaders like Julius Nyerere of Tanzania championed the cause of a unified nation in their countries, Nigeria’s founding fathers seemed to prioritise ethnic politics over national cohesion.

He argued that there are agitations across the six geopolitical zones of the country, particularly, in the South East, because of lack of equality and justice, hence the need for the 2014 CONFAB implementation or referendum in Nigeria, as been done in other parts of the World.

Agbasiere said he was very young when the 1999 Constitution was created, but has now come of age to question the government and to say whether he agrees to it or not; hence his declaration and dissociation of himself from the said agreement in the Constitution preamble and introductory parts.

This said introductory part of the constitution read, “We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having firmly and solemnly resolved to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God, dedicated to the promotion of inter-African solidarity, world peace, international co-operation and understanding.

“And to provide for a Constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country, on the principles of freedom, equality and justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people

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“Do hereby make, enact and give to ourselves the following Constitution:-”

He also stressed that “the country christened Nigeria was mistakenly amalgamated” in 1914, maintaining that the country is full of inequalities, while its Constitution is riddled with flaws.

Beginning with the pre-1914 amalgamation era, he went memory lane on the history of the country, state creation (most of which he said were done by military dictators from the northern region), and constitutional development, pointing out what he believes are anomalies, mistakes, flaws and unrealistic assertions he observed in them, and most of which were carried over to the present-day Nigeria, as is seen in its structures and operation.

Comparably analysing the provisions of some sections of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution and the present structural reality in the country, the celebrity lawyer declared, without mincing words, that the Southeastern geopolitical zone is being grossly marginalized.

He noted that the implementation of the 2014 CONFAB report would also seved as major steps towards ending what he described as the unfair and unjust treatments being meted out to the people of the Southeastern geopolitical zone of the country, which is the only region with the lowest number of states in the country.

“Sometime in 1967, Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon created 12 states from the existing four regions. But, instead of creating 3 states from each of the 4 regions, he created 6 states from the North where he came from, and, of course, gave himself one. This was where the injustice in Nigeria started. Other military dictators who came after him also toed the same path, and today, we have 36 States and the FCT,” he said.

He, however added that, with the provision of the 1999 Constitution which says that each state shall provide 3 senators, plus the FCT (which give a total of 109), the implication is that the Northern alone that has 19 states has a total of 57 senators, while the remaining come from the the remaining regions.

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This imbalance, he said, also reflects in the number of House of Representatives members from the various zones, with the Southeast having the lowest (with its five states), to the point that even the lawmakers from the Northern region alone can form a quorum and take a decision at each Chamber of the National Assembly, even without the presence, votes or opinions of the people from the Southeast region.

“Where is the justice in Nigeria?” he asked.

Continuing, he said, “Yes, if I’m not mistaking, one of the things that the CONFAB resolved is that there should be additional state in the southeast. It is so unjust that out of the entire 36 states or the 6 geopolitical zones, it’s only southeast that has 5, while others have more. What type of nonsense is that? It is not fair now. It is subjugation.

“So, southeast should be given sense of belonging. That’s my position on that.”

On the feasibility of referendum in addressing the perceived injustice, he said “The country is already the way it is, you understand? Referendum needs consensus. And then, for you to get that consensus, you need that of the north, you need the west, the south, and all the rest of them.

“So if you don’t get all these things, it cannot come, it cannot work. You understand? That’s the problem. So, my own is, let us follow the dictates of the constitution, even though flawed. The 1999 constitution is flawed. I have said it time and again, military dictators cannot create states for us.

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“Many of the 36 states in the country were created by military dictators from the North, just to favour the North.”

Continuing, he said, “The 1999 Constitution is a product of the military, and the military is a product of coup. So, Illegality cannot beget legality. But, like I said earlier, an illegitimate child can be legitimized.

“And one of the ways you can legitimize that is by people to come together and say, Yes, we got this thing wrong, but now, let us rectify it. Let us impose some legality on it. …Mine is: If you see something wrong, you say something right. I have seen that this is wrong, and I have said that. So, let our representatives and people in the constituted authority move back and do something about that.”

While thanking God for gift of life, Barr. Agbasiere, who is also a Knight of Saint John International, philanthropist and Founder of the NGO, The Siere Foundation, also appreciated everyone who has impacted his life in one way or the other, while also restating his commitment to continue giving back to humanity and making the society a better place.

In their seperate goodwill messages, an APC Chieftain, Engr. Johnbosco Onunkwo and the MD/CEO, Pool King Global Investment Ltd., Hon. Gabriel Chukwunwendu described the celebrant as a humanist and one of the outstanding, impactful and brilliant lawyers Anambra State has ever produced, given his commitment to justice, giving voice to the oppressed and giving back to society.

The birthday party was witnessed by the mother and wife of the celebrant, Lady Mary Agbasiere and Pharm. Makuo Agbasiere respectively.

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