The Chairman of the President’s Advisory Committee on the National Conference, Dr. Femi Okurounmu said that the National Conference would not discuss Nigeria’s dismembering because those who agitate for such an outcome are on the fringe of Nigeria’s society. He made the disclosure in an exclusive interview with SaharaTV.
“Those people who believe in the dismembering of Nigeria are just fringe groups,” he said, referring to some elements in the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), the Odua People’s Congress (OPC), Arewa People’s Congress (APC), Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and other groups.
He shied away from saying whether such groups would even be invited to the conference saying that the committee’s outing in Akure did not receive such submission. “Nobody came to demand that Nigeria should be dismembered,” he said. “The goal of the National Conference is greater justice and greater equity.”
Okurounmu rejected suggestions that President Jonathan has placed any “no-go area” on the committee when the president suggested that the resolution of the National Conference should be subjected to the ratification of the National Assembly. The former Senator from Ogun state argued that people were misinterpreting what the president said. He said that the president was making his own personal contribution which should not be taken as a directive to the committee.
When pressed further, he conceded that the findings of the National Conference would first of all be subjected to a referendum and if approved, it would then go to the National Assembly.
“The last stop of any work of the National Conference will always be the National Assembly,” he told SaharaTV’s Rudolf Okonkwo. “The National Assembly is the only one who can enact the findings in a constitution.”
On Bola Tinubu’s accusation that President Jonathan was not sincere about the National Conference, Okurounmu said he had met with Tinubu and that after the meeting, Tinubu has softened his stance on the conference.
To those who feel that corruption is the most important problem facing Nigeria, Okunroumu acknowledged that corruption is a major problem but insisted that Nigeria could tackle corruption alongside the National Conference.
The Afenfere chieftain described as lies the media report which suggested that prominent Yoruba leaders boycotted his committee’s first sitting in Akure on Friday. He stated that all prominent Yoruba leaders either came in person or sent their submissions on how to map out the National Conference.
Challenged on what makes him think that this conference would be different from those before, Okurounmu said that this time we have a president who believes in a National Conference.
“I’m the right man for the job,” he told SaharaTV’s Rudolf Okonkwo “because out of conviction I’ve fought for the National Conference for years.”