ENUGU â€” The Igbo leaders of thought led by eminent Constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze, yesterday, rolled out its position paper that would guide the Igbo delegates to the proposed National conference with a strong proposal for the inclusion of the right of secession or self determination in the new constitution.
At a public presentation of two booklets, entitled â€œThe Position of the Igbo Nation at the National Conference for a Renegotiated Constitutionâ€ as compiled by the Igbo Leaders of Thought, a group of eminent Igbo think-thank led by him, Nwabueze apologized to Ndigbo on behalf of former Vice President of Nigeria; Dr. Alex Ekwueme for rejecting their nominations to lead Igbo delegates to the conference.
He said that he agreed with Dr. Ekwueme that both of them would not be delegates to the conference due to age and to also give the younger ones a chance to participate.
The renowned lawyer told newsmen in Enugu that the Igbo Leaders of Thought advocated for the right of the zones to form the basis for the federating units as well as the rights of self determination, including the right to secede.
According to Nwabueze, while he is 83, Ekwueme is about 81 or 82 years of age, and that both of them had taken part in previous constitutional conferences in the past and made their contributions.
â€œBut we also agreed that we owe a duty to Ndigbo, that we are not going to abandon our people. That we are not going to be delegates sitting in the hall exposed, taking all abuses, bombardments, but we will stand behind; our role should be that of guidance.,â€ he said.
He stated that they will reach out to Igbo governors and other prominent Igbo sons to provide a meeting place in Abuja, where Igbo elders like him and Ekwueme would be meeting with Igbo delegates to the conference twice a week, to guide and educate them on the Igbo position as contained in the document.
On the summary of some of the contents of the Igbo position paper, Prof. Nwabueze said that Ndigbo is proposing the inclusion of the right of secession or self determination in the new constitution; adoption of the regions as the basis of the federating units and establishment of regional or state police to enable the governors or regional leaders enforce their authority and law.
He said that the position paper reduced the items in the exclusive legislative list as currently contained in the 1999 Constitution, from 68 to 36, adding that the current constitution is abhorrent to true federalism where a commissioner of police has overriding power over a state governor and chief security officer of the state.
He said that the right of self determination is contained in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, which he said was domesticated into the Nigerian Constitution by National Assembly enactment.
â€œIn this document we are proposing the rights of the zones as the federating unit to self determination, including the right to secessionâ€¦ the Yorubas have already accepted it, they are coming to the conference with this. Its part of the law of the country already because the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, says that all people shall have an unquestionable and inalienable rights to self determination.
â€œIt is part of the law of this country already because I know that we have already enacted a law, the National Assembly enacted a law incorporating the African Charter as part of domestic law of Nigeria. This is the only international treaty that has been incorporated as part of our domestic law.
â€œSo itâ€™s nothing new; all that we are now saying is that it should be elevated from being part of the ordinary law of the country into a right enshrined in the constitution, thatâ€™s all that we are saying now,â€ he buttressed.
The secretary of Igbo Leaders of Thought, Prof. Elochukwu Amaucheazi stated that initially Ndigbo were worried by the refusal of Nwabueze and Ekwueme to be at the conference, but expressed happiness that the two elders have now agreed to remain behind the scene to give support.
He said that that his group want Nigeria to remain strong and united but on the basis of justice and equity.
The Assistant Secretary of Igbo Leaders of Thought and convener of Igbo Youth Movement, Evangelist Elliot Uko, said that the content of the Igbo position as presented in booklets was futuristic and that millions of copies would be mass produced to distribute free to Ndigbo wherever they are, as critical Igbo agenda in Nigeria.
The book presentation was attended by other members of the group including Senators Anyim Ude and Offia Nwali, Barr. Nneka O. Nzeakor and Prof Chinweite Ejike.