Former President Goodluck Jonathan has revealed the reasons for not implementing the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference convened by his administration.
While delivering a speech at the presentation of a book: ‘The National Conversation: Interests and Intrigues That Shaped The 2014 National Conference’, at the NICON Luxury in Abuja on Tuesday, Mr Jonathan highlighted some of the issues that made it impossible to implement the report before he left office in 2015.
Mr Jonathan, who was represented by a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, said his government had already lost the control of the House of Representatives by the time the report was submitted in August 2014.
He stated that the mass defection led by the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, made it impossible to send the report to the National Assembly.
Mr Tambuwal, who is currently the Sokoto State governor, had dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on October 28, 2014, and joined the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC). He has since rejoined the PDP.
After defecting from the PDP at the time, Mr Tambuwal adjourned the sitting of the House to December 3.
Mr Jonathan, who served as president from 2010-2015, convened the National Conference on March 3, 2014, to address “inclusive national consensus on the structure and guiding principles of state.”
The conference was chaired by the late Justice Idris Kutigi, with 492 delegates that represented different groups and interests across the country.
Eight years after the presentation of the report, the recommendations of the reports are yet to be implemented.
Why I did not send it to NASS…
The ex-president said the implementation would have required alterations to the 1999 Constitution and other existing laws, noting that all these would have been impossible with the defection of Mr Tambuwal and others.
“Such elaborate review couldn’t have been possible at the time because at the time the report was submitted in August 2014, we were on the verge of a general election.
“It is also important to point out that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, who was a member of my party, the PDP, had already moved out with some members to the opposition.
“That meant a reasonable part of the National Assembly were already anti-government. When you know that the parliament is under that kind of situation, it would have been imprudent on my part to take such a document—which I consider crucial to our development yearning— to a parliament that will not give it due consideration,” Mr Jonathan said.
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He added that Nigerians were already suspicious of the actions of the government, hence it would not be prudent to embark on the implementation of the conference recommendations.
‘We were also aware that for the segment of our population that was already suspicious of the action of government, our actions could have been misread, especially against the backdrop of the ECOWAS protocol on Constitution reforms, which states that no substantial alterations to electoral laws of member states in the last six months before elections.
Mr Jonathan said he believed he was going to win the 2015 general elections and thereafter implement the recommendations.
“When I contested the 2015 elections, my expectation was that I would win a second term within which period I would have worked for the implementation of that report. I felt that within the four years mandate, the first two years would have been dedicated to implementing a reasonable part of the recommendations,” he said.
In his remarks at the event, Ita Enang, a former aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, said he pushed for the implementation of the recommendations but that the current administration refused to act.
According to him, he sent a memo to the Minister of Special Duties, George Akume, but no action was taken.
Mr Enang, who was a senator at the time, said the security challenges facing the country now are direr than the situation in 2014.
In his remarks, Sam Akpe, a co-author, said the 633-page book is an inside account of the intrigues that played out in the course of the deliberations.