The North has no faith in the National Conference organized by the outgone administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, according to the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF).
The group, in a statement issued in Kaduna State on Thursday, declared that the conference was skewed against the geo-political zone.
The declaration was in reaction to a statement credited to prominent Yoruba elder, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who has consistently urged the Muhammadu Buhari administration to implement the recommendations of the conference.
The Yoruba socio-political umbrella organization, Afenifere, to which Chief Adebanjo belongs, had consistently advocated the convocation of a National Conference as the solution to Nigeria’s many problems.
During the last presidential campaign, the Afenifere had declared bloc support for the reelection of the then incumbent President Jonathan citing its fears that a government headed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) might not implement the recommendations of the conference.
Adebanjo had in an interview with a newspaper recently, said: “My own view and the view of Afenifere are that a northerner will not be so disposed to changing the constitution because they are the beneficiaries of what we are complaining about. Let them disprove that.”
He had added: “About 500 distinguished Nigerians recommended a new constitution unanimously and nobody has come out to say what we did there was wrong.”
The ACF, in a statement on Thursday, disclosed its objection to the conference.
The statement was issued by the Northern group’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Muhamma Ibrahim.
The group admitted that the North participated in the conference, but added that the constitution of its membership was lopsided and skewed to favour the South over the North.
It said: “The selection process of delegates by President Jonathan’s government to the confab made the North, that has a population of 75,268,686 people (NPC 2006) with a land mass of 730,885 square km (80%) as a minority with 189 delegates while the South with a population 65,151,458 people (NPC 2006) with a land mass of 193,438 square km (20%) as a majority with 303 delegates.”
It continued: “Despite this glaring injustice and disadvantage, the North, as a region did not only participate in the overall national interest of Nigeria but also stabilised the conference on crucial issues of national unity. The 2014 Confab was therefore not a platform for constitution making and did not unanimously recommend a new constitution for Nigeria as claimed by Chief Adebanjo.
“The learned Chief knows better the process of constitution making and certainly the delegates to the 2014 Confab did not qualify for such process, as they were not elected as representatives of the people but selected or nominated by government and interest groups.”
It added: ”The delegates therefore did not have the legitimate mandate of the people to draft or recommend a new constitution for Nigeria and did not even do so.”
The ACF wondered whether it was the fault of the North that Jonathan, who had ample time to implement the recommendation of the confab, failed to do so.
It added: “The 2014 Confab, in which ACF fully participated made about 600 far-reaching recommendations on policy issues, legal and constitutional amendments to the 1999 Constitution as amended and submitted the report to the former President on August 21, 2014 and not a new Constitution.
“President Jonathan had ample opportunity to implement some of the policy issues or even forward some of the recommendations that require legal and constitutional amendments to the National Assembly, but did not do so.
“Was it the northern interest that stopped him, being a southerner or a southern interest? The Confab report, being a public property, is subject to the usual due process of implementation through the three arms of government and not singularly by President Buhari as Chief Adebanjo is canvassing.”
It cautioned against inflammatory statements from respected elders that could jeopardise the corporate co-existence of the nation and described Adebanjo’s comment as embarrassing and absurd.