July 21, 2024

Jonathan Speak On How Tambuwal, Others Prevented Implementation Of 2014 National Convention Recommendations

Former President, Goodluck Jonathan has described the defection of a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014 as a major reason why it was impossible for his government to implement the 2014 National Convention recommendations.

One of the recommendations of the convention attended by Nigerians chosen from across the country was restructuring, which many southerners have been clamouring for.

The former president made this known on Tuesday in his remark at the public presentation of ‘The National Question’, a book written by Akpandem James & Sam Akpe, in Abuja.

In 2014, the Goodluck Jonathan administration organised a national dialogue to deliberate on, and recommend ways to resolve some of the challenges facing his government, many of which were rooted in history.

He, however, failed to implement the recommendations made at the convention till he left office in 2015 and many Nigerians have berated him for it, accusing the former President of trying to use its implementation as a campaign tool to return to power in 2015.

Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election to incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari.

The former President, however, explained that it was too late for him to implement them when they were presented in August 2014 due to the complexity of the Nigerian system.

He said, “Whenever people say that I should implement its recommendations, my feeling is either those people did not understand the political environment at that time, the length of time it would take to implement the report of a conference like that or probably were just playing politics with such an important matter.

“Those knowledgeable about the processes of constitutional reforms will know that to implement the Confab report, a number of alterations will be made in the constitution which would require the involvement of the National Assembly and state assemblies.

“Such an elaborate review couldn’t have been possible at that time because by the time the report was submitted in August 2014, we were already on the verge of a general election.

“It is also important to point out that at that time, the speaker of the House of representatives, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who was a member of my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had already moved out, with some members, to the opposition party.

“When you know that your parliament is under that kind of situation, it would have been imprudent on my own part to take such a precious document, which I consider as crucial to our development yearnings, to a parliament that would not give it due consideration.

“If we had a task that would require the alteration of the constitution, enactment of new laws, and amendment of some existing ones, there was no way that could have been done overnight.”

He further stated that the Buhari administration should have implemented the recommendations for national interests and urged Nigerians to desist from using the recommendations as a political tool.

He said, “If we take politics out of our national calculations, we would all agree that with a fresh government it would have been easier to achieve the implementation of the report.

“One of the problems of this country is that we like playing politics with things that have very much to do with national interest. We play politics with our security. We play politics with our economy. We play politics with almost everything. That, definitely, is not the way to go, if we must make progress in realising our national aspirations and goals.

“May God bless the soul of Justice Idris Kutigi, chairman of the Conference, who died in 2018. However, the Vice-Chairman Professor Bolaji Akinyemi and other members who are still alive can testify that I never interfered with any decision of the conference. I can recall a particular incident when the chairman and his vice approached me for my guidance on a pressing matter before them, but I bluntly told them to figure it out themselves.

“I reminded them that, apart from the representatives of the youths, human rights and student groups, most of the members of the conference, up to 60 per cent of them, were older and even more experienced than myself. I encouraged them to deploy their vast experience to execute the assignment without interference.

“In closing, I implore our citizens to realise that the 2014 Conference was neither about me nor what my administration stood to gain from it at that time. It was all for the good of our country, our children and our grandchildren.”

“I plead with Nigerians not to play politics with the 2014 Conference report. I believe that at the appropriate time, the country through a dedicated parliament will do the right thing. And the right thing is to duly and dispassionately consider the report of the conference with a view to implementing the recommendations for the good of the country,” he added.

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