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N/Assembly dismisses SNC calls

Published by Daily Trust on Mon, 20 Feb 2012

The National Assembly is opposed to convening a sovereign national conference because the legislature is there to attend to demands of the agitators, spokesman for the House of Representatives has said.Rep. Zakari Mohammed (PDP, Kwara) told a news conference in Abuja yesterday that the National Assembly was the right avenue to address matters of national unity.On Wednesday, leaders from the South-West and South-South zones met with President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House, Abuja, where they demanded the convening of a national conference in which components of the country would agree on the terms of its unity.Mohammed, who chairs the House Committee on Media and Publicity, said holding a national conference as being canvassed would create more problems for the country rather than solve them.'We are not emerging from war and such conference will only create more problems,' he said.'What are the parameters to be used to select the participants' Is it tribal, geography, local governments' Who will convene it' Who funds it' Who moderates it' How will the leader emerge''He urged proponents of the national conference to rather forward all the issues they want addressed to the National Assembly which is in the process of another constitutional amendment.The spokesman for the House announced this position two days after his Senate counterpart Eyinnaya Abaribe also said agitators of national conference should submit their demands to the National Assembly.'Our position is that we are already elected to represent all persons and citizens of Nigeria. If you look at the composition, you are either represented by a House of Representatives member or a senator,' Abaribe told journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.'We do not think there is any matter under the sun that we will shy away from. We do not understand the stand of those who insist that there must be a sovereign national conference.'For the avoidance of doubt we are not against any group, association or persons meeting to discuss issues because that is to ensure democracy. What we are saying is that there cannot be democracy without democrats. Therefore, if you want any alteration to the way of life in the country, the vehicle is the National Assembly.'If you want to change the constitution, bring it through the House and the Senate.'Yesterday, the House read at second reading a bill to amend the Constitution to expunge some provisions that give powers to the President over laws enacted by the National Assembly.The bill, Sponsored by deputy leader Rep. Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta), seeks to expunged provisions of section 315 subsection 1 and 2 of the constitution, which empower the president to modify pre-1999 laws to bring them into conformity with the Constitution.Ogor said former President Olusegun Obasanjo relied on this provision to alter the revenue allocation formula unilaterally.
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