Pro-Democracy Civil Society Organisations, a group of civil society delegates which basically advocates at ongoing National Conference, for one strong formidable, united, economically, socially, politically, and equitable sound Nigeria, has continued to advocate for critically issues that would lead to positive constitutional development and realize Nigerians’ aspiration for national liberation, social emancipation through participatory process.
As part of its agenda for the Conference, the group advocates for:
• A comprehensive Bill of Rights spanning and including all known civil, political, socio-cultural and economic rights; and which shall be consolidated into a single justiciable and enforceable chapter of the Nigeria Constitution.
• Adoption of a socio-economic framework aimed at guaranteeing the basic minimum to every citizen, and prioritizing an inclusive economic revival plan that will eradicate poverty, hunger, homelessness and joblessness in the society.
• A regime of fiscal federalism that encourages healthy competition among constituent units of the federation shall be left uncatered for.
• A genuinely mass participatory democratic polity that ensures the full involvement of citizens in decision making and implementation at all levels of government.
• A single citizenship of the Nigerian Federation for all citizens, with the only qualifying criteria for representation being agreed minimum residency status.
• Consequences on enforceable guiding principles for a comprehensive reform of the justice and law enforcement system; including a determination to expose and severely punish corruption.
The group works to ensure the outcomes of the conference are issues that can address and improving good governance that would lead to more transparency and accountability in Nigeria response to poverty, insecurity, job creation and justice.
While speaking to the media in an interview, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and delegate at the conference, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) said: “We are hoping that the outcome of this conference will be subjected to referendum leading to constitutional changes and development. If that happens, then it will help to deal with so many issues that we have been agitating for. Unfortunately, the constitutional amendment that started since 1999 has not been successful.”
“One of the key interests we want the conference to address is that we want to ensure that chapter two of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is pushed to make it operational. We want to ensure that we have satiable, united, strong and formidable Nigeria that is built on fairness, equity and with sound political, economic and social foundation which would ensure fairness for all. We want to see and ensure the possibility of true federalism, it goes also to address the issue of citizenship. The country has been enmeshed with the challenges of citizenship/indigenes which do not promote unity in Nigeria and it must be resolved.
“We will also be talking about the issue of police, on whether we will push for a more proactive and effective security services in the country. Another contentious issue we will be talking about at the conference is the role of religion in the society. Hopefully, if this conference is allowed to operate the way we want it, it will help to bridge those gaps, which to me is very important.
On the regional autonomy where the states will have more or equal powers with the centre, he added: “This is about Federalism that we are talking about, if we want Federalism we can agree on that and work out different modalities to it. There are different kinds of modalities all over the world, if we want to strengthen what we have fine, if we want to have regional autonomy like we used to have fine, but this conference is about dialogue, negotiation and consensus, in the sense that you cannot go to the conference with a fixed point of view and insist that it is your position that must be followed.
“As member of the CSO we are still discussing the issue of regional autonomy, it will be premature to just say that this is what we want as we have to meet to agree within the civil society groups to be on the same page but, in principle like l said earlier, those are the key issues we want addressed.”
As part of the latest development, on April 3, 2014, 24 civil society delegates at conference descried the undemocratic attitude of Justice Idris Kutigi Committee and described the reversal of the right of committees to elect their leaders directly as an attempt to pave way for supper delegates.
In a statement issued to the press, the group expressed concern with the way and manner that the committee of 50 went out of its time of reference to propose to conference the reversal of a decision earlier made with respect to committees of conference having the right to elect their presiding officers.
The group added that a “committee made up no more than 10% of delegates, and saddle with a different task of arriving at a consensus on what should constitute a majority vote in the absence of consensus, would go outside of its own mandate, deliberate on and recommend the reversal of a decision validly taken by all delegates in plenary.”
They are worried that this practice may entrench the emergence of some sorts of super delegates who can take decision on behalf of or even opposed to the views of majority delegates.