Human rights group faults govt on status of national confab
The Coalition of Human Rights Groups in Oyo State has faulted the federal government on its decision to accord the national conference an advisory status.
Aside calling President Goodluck Jonathan to review his decision, the human rights groups also frowned at the mode of representation planned for the Conference.
In a statement by the Chairman and Coordinator of the group, Comrades Laoye Sanda and Yomi Dawodu respectively, the coalition observed that the conference “which is supposed to produce a new constitution for the country, ought to be composed largely by ethnic nationalities. It rejected the composition of the conference which is largely by politicians and government appointees.
The federal government had released details of the composition and status of the conference, stating that it will “advise the government on the legal framework, legal procedures and options for integrating the decisions and outcomes of the national conference into the Constitution and laws of the country.”
On representation, the coalition observed that only 90 delegates were allocated to ‘socio-political, cultural and ethnic nationality groups. It maintained that the conference “is and should be for this category of people. As such, the number of their representation should be increased from 90 to a minimum of 200.”
The coalition group also called for the increase in the number of those who are to represent civil rights organizations from 24 to at least 50 or 37 just as it insisted that adherents of traditional religions too should be given delegates like their Christian and Muslim counterparts.
The human rights activists wondered why the president solely nominated delegates; saying it means that the conference is going to toe only the line charted by the presidency. This, the coalition submitted, “will defeat the very purpose of convoking the conference in the first place”.
The coalition which recalled that the idea of National Conference was first mooted by the late President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Alao Aka-Bashorun, and popularised by civil rights bodies and ethnic nationalities expressed surprise that the NBA was given only one delegate while the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was not given any.
“The 18 delegates meant to represent retired military and security personnel should be reduced to six since the bodies from which they retired will also have their own respective delegates.”
The Coalition urged President Goodluck Jonathan to let the people be the determinant of their own fate rather than doctoring their views. “Otherwise, he would vindicate those who insisted that he is not sincere with the idea of convoking the National Conference.”