Concerned Igbo leaders of Thought led by Prof. Ben Nwabueze has endorsed that the out come of the proposed National Conference be subjected to a referendum before it form the new constitution of Nigeria.
The Igbo leaders said their position is hinged on the premise that many nations of the world that evolved new constitutions toed the referendum process before implementing their new constitutions.
Another reason canvassed by the Igbo group in favour of the referendum was that, it is only logical and as a way of democratizing the new constitution, adding that over 85 percent of countries of the world adopted referendum in bringing into being their constitutions.
“So the position of Ndigbo is that the constitution must be approved through a new referendum,” said the secretary of the group, Prof. Elochukwu Amaucheazi, who addressed newsmen shortly after their meeting in Enugu yesterday.
They emphasized that the national dialogue is a conference of all ethnic nationalities/ peoples of Nigeria and not of interest and pressure groups; that it is important and critical with main purpose of producing a new constitution for Nigeria.
Prof. Amucheazi said “We believe that it is a new constitution that is being produced, that the constitution will go for a referendum. That is the way of democratizing constitutions and we know that 85 percent of countries of the world had adopted referendum in bringing into being their constitutions.
“We accept that their will be an enabling law for the conference. We expect that this law will also make provision for a referendum. It will be embodied in the enabling law that there will be a referendum for the new the new constitution.
“On the modus operandi, we had discussions on how to proceed in the conference, some said there should be a draft that will be brought before the conference as happened in the 90s. We said no, that this is completely a new constitution and the ethnic nationalities should be involved in drafting the new constitution. They could start with a talk shop, we said nothing should be swept under the carpet, so the conference will discuss every raised issue, they can even spend one month canvassing all issues.
“Meanwhile, the conference itself will then constitute a committee which from these issues canvassed will draw a draft, that is, the draft will be prepared by a committee of the conference and the committee must be representatives of the zones. So every zone must be represented. Having done that draft, the house reconvenes to go through the draft, get it approved and send it to the legal draftsmen. When they complete their work, the product of this legal draftsmen will again be sent to the entire house of the conference to vent the draft prepared by the legal draftsmen and finally approve of it. When it approves it, that is the constitution, that is what will now go for a referendum.
“These are the steps we thought should be followed at the national conference and that is the position of Ndigbo.”
Among those who attended the meeting are: foremost constitutional lawyer Prof. Ben Nwabueze, wife of the first president of Nigeria Dr. Uche Azikiwe, Chief Enechi Onyia (SAN), Prof. Lawrence Ocho, Prof. Ben Obumselu, Prof.
Elochukwu Amucheazi, N.O. Izuako, Mrs. Maria Okwor, Lady kate Ezeofor, Prince Emeka Onyesoh,
Senator Anyim Udeh, Senator Uche Chukwumerije,
Senator Offia Nwali,
Arch Bishop Mazwel Anikwenwa,
Igwe Aja Nwachukwu,
Dr. Chidi Osuagwu,
Chief Philip Umeh,
Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, Evanelist Elliot Uko, Rev. Ukandu Ucheya,
Rev. Maduakolam Osuagwu, Engr Obi Thompson, representative of World Igbo Congress, among others.