Enugu - The Ohaneze Ndigbo has advocated for equal representation of 60 delegates from each of the six geo-political zones at the proposed national dialogue.
Presenting the organisation’s position at the stakeholders’ interactive session in Enugu on Wednesday, its President, Garry Igariwe, said the submission was done after consultations with other Igbo organisations.
Igariwe said the Igbo had been waiting for such a dialogue because they believe in the unity of the country.
"On the structure and composition of the conference, we advocate equal representation of each of the zones covering all the ethnic nationalities - women, labour unions, religious groups, youths and the persons with disability.
"The political parties should not play any role in the selection of the delegates because we have more than 50 ethnic nationalities in Igboland.
"On the selection, it will be in line with the ethnic groups in each zone with the total number of delegates being 360 in all.
"To ensure its legality and integrity, the legal framework of the conference should be instituted through an act of the National Assembly.
“The executive should send an executive bill to the National Assembly to legalise the conference,’’ he said.
Igariwe suggested a time-table for the conference, saying the advisory committee should conclude its assignment by November while the National Assembly should process the enactment of the Conference Act in December.
He also suggested that the delegates’ conference should sit between January and April while the new constitution should be drafted in May.
The Ohaneze chief also suggested that June should be reserved for the referendum on the new constitution while the administrative restructuring of the new constitution should take place between July and September.
He said there should be no 'no-go-area' on the issues to be discussed which should include the structure of the country, the form of the government, tenure of office and devolution of power.
He also suggested that issues to be discussed should include the revenue sharing formula, fiscal federalism, derivation, distribution, citizenship, armed forces and other security agencies to improve the security of lives and property.
He said the role of traditional rulers should be defined while population, census, religious and circular matters would all be discussed.
Igariwe warned that the outcome of the dialogue should not be subject to any tampering or alteration either by the National Assembly or the executive arm of the government.
He said the success of the exercise depended on its planning and management.
Igariwe said that it would be necessary for the exercise to be concluded before the end of the tenure of the present administration so that the new government in 2015 would commence the use of the new constitution.
According to him, the dialogue had become necessary because after 100 years of existence, the country needed to take stock and know if its present state was what the founding fathers projected.
Earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Femi Okoruonmu, said it was in Enugu to consult with the people on the modalities for the conference.
He said the consultation would be on what issues to be discussed, how long the conference should last, how large should it be and how the delegates should be chosen.
Okoruonmu said other issues were the legal framework for moving the decision of the conference to the constitution as well as any other matter that were germane to the conference.
More than 10 other groups that presented their views on the conference supported the stand of Ohaneze, except for one Yahaya Ndu, who called for the conference to commence from the grassroots and Nigerians in the Diaspora.
He accused Ohaneze of championing the cause of the elites without consulting the youths and “the poorest of the poor” in the society.
The event was attended by traditional rulers from Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi states.
Also in attendance were Senator Ken Nnamani, Dr Sam Egwu, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo and Mbazuluike Amechi, among other dignitaries.