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Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Martin Elechi, has denied the statement credited to him where he allegedly dismissed the forthcoming national conference, describing it as “a big joke, waste of time, and a distraction to Goodluck Jonathan.”
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Dr. Onyekachi Eni, clarified that the governor did not make such a statement.
The statement said Elechi, who spoke during the meeting of the Forum of Founding Fathers of Ebonyi State last Thursday, “emphasised that it will amount to ‘a huge joke’ for anybody to canvass the idea of zonal representation in the conference when the existing constitution only recognises the 36 states of the federation and Abuja.”
The statement said the attribution of the remarks to the governor was the handiwork of “partisan opposition elements, who are bent on capitalising on any issue to heat up the polity in their avowed and discredited mission of making the country ungovernable.”
Eni said during the interaction, the forum, among other things, raised two issues concerning the proposed national conference on which it sought the governor’s views.
The two issues, he added, included the position to be adopted by the state on the selection of participants to the national conference and whether nomination should be on zonal or state basis.
The second issue was the position to be canvassed by the state as to the status of the proceedings of the national conference, whether it would be sovereign or subject to the National Assembly.
The statement said the governor in response said it would amount to “a huge joke” for anybody to canvass the idea of zonal representation at the conference when the constitution only recognises the 36 states of the federation and Abuja.
“According to Governor Elechi, to adopt the zones as federating units is akin to reverting to the defunct regional governments, which for Ebonyi State is akin to ‘the Israelites going back to Egypt,” the statement added.
It explained that the governor said at a time Nigeria had an elected National Assembly, “it is absurd for anybody to canvass the idea that the proceedings of the conference will automatically metamorphose into a new national constitution without appropriate legislation by the elected representatives of the people symbolised by the National Assembly.”
According to the statement, Elechi also stressed that in designing a new national constitution, “it will be necessary to take cognisance of previous conferences and dialogues on the national question, including the 2005 National Political Reform Conference initiated by the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo – a conference in which Elechi himself was not only a member but also the leader of Ebonyi State delegation to the conference.”