By Emmanuel Daudu, Abuja
Youths Off The Street Initiative (YOTSI) recently in Abuja staged Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential Transition Inter-Ethnic Peace Dialogue at the Borno/Rivers hall, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
The event convened by Comrade Kennedy Iyere, organized by Youths Off The Street Initiative (YOTSI) and its Diaspora Partners, in collaboration with Ethnic Nationalities and local NGOs, got men of timbers and caliber in all works of life across over three hundred ethnic groups in the country.
The Convening of the “Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential Transition Inter-Ethnic Peace Dialogue” with the Theme: “Restructuring and 2023 Power-Shift: Nigeria’s Make or Break Factor for Political Survival”, is an effort to forestall the imminent drift towards another civil war and forceful disintegration of Nigeria.
YOTSI and its Diaspora Partners with Ethnic Nationalities represented by their apex socio-cultural organizations, namely: Afenifere Group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Middle Belt Forum, Southern and Middle Belt Forum, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), alongside various prominent Nigerians and other notable delegates, rose from the Dialogue taking far-reaching decisions to avert Nigeria’s drift towards conflagration.
The Dialogue was attended by over 300 delegates drawn from representatives of ethnic nationalities, NGOs (local and international), the academia, top political class, nonprofit sector, private business sector, and members of the public.
In a welcome address delivered by the President/CEO of Youths Off The Street Initiative (YOTSI) and Convener of the event, Comrade Kennedy Iyere, hoped that the Outcome of the crucial Inter-Ethnic Peace Dialogue will help build a consensus towards the setting up of an effective ad-hoc peace action committee, to be known as “United Nigeria Advocacy Committee (UNAC), hinged on the core mandate to promote peace and sustain Nigeria’s unity, and to redress the prevailing injustice and general ills that have divided Nigeria.
Special Goodwill messages – were presented by notable politicians, political activists, heads of CSOs/NGOs, the Academia, and representatives from the private sector. They are Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani Kayode; Former Speaker of House of Representatives & Chairman, National Consultative Front (NCF), Rt. Hon Ghali Na’aba; Former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife; Prof Pat Utomi, President of the Centre for Value in Leadership (CVL) and Senior Faculty, Lagos Business School; Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, former Chairman/CEO of Pfizer West Africa and President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN); Idayat Hassan, Director of Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Dr. Leonard Nzenwa; Former Member of the Federal House of Representatives and President of Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), Rt.Hon Jonathan Asake; Chairman, Igbo World Assembly, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze (USA); Founder of BEN Television London and Commandant General of Nigerians In Diaspora Mentoring Corp (NIDMECORP), Dr. Alistair Soyode (UK); President, Northern Consensus Movement, Dr. Awwal Abdullahi; President of Association of Market Women and Men; Chief (Mrs.) Felicia Sani.
Also present were Nigeria’s Former Minister of Women Affairs, Iyom Josephine Anenih; Ex-Minister of Urban Housing and Former Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko; Former Governor of Kwara State, Chief C.O Adebayo; Former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Chief Kofo Bucnor; Former Deputy Governor of Taraba State, Dr. S.D Gani; Former Secretary-General of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Engr Samuel Salifu; Former Nigeria’s Controller of Prisons, President General of Mzough-U-Tiv and Chairman of Association of Benue Socio-Cultural Organizations (ABSCO), Chief Iorbee Ihagh, as well as several former Senators, Former Heads of MDAs; top NGO Executives and many other eminent personalities.
Paper Presentations – on topical national issues were presented by Representatives of Ethnic Nationalities but with emphasis on “Constitutional Restructuring” and “2023 Presidential Transition”.
Chief Ayo Adebanjo – Leader of Afenifere Group (AG) and the Yoruba Nation
Professor George Obiozor – President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo
Chief Chukwuemeke Ezeife, Former Governor of Anambra State.
Senator Emmanuel Essien Ibok – Chairman, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) dealt decisively with the topics.
Dr. Pogu Bitrus – President, Middle Belt Forum (MBF)
Contributions were made from other delegates to the Dialogue from the perspectives of men, women, and youths.
However, the Meeting recognizes that a pre-condition to peace, justice, equity, fairness, and sustainable development is “Quality political Leadership” especially, at the helm of affairs. It acknowledged that the Country has fallen to its lowest bottom given the spate of ethnic, cultural, political, religious agitations, that are daily giving rise to severe security challenges and mostly fatal outcomes across the states of the Federation; and that effective political leadership is urgently needed to address these ugly trends.
Furthermore, the Meeting questions the sincerity of a democratic government that purports to serve the development of its people but intentionally robs them of that opportunity through acts of nepotism and clannish appointments.
The Dialogue views with great concern the lacunas in the 1999 Federal Constitution and its inadequacy to solving critical issues as well as, the need for electoral reforms that will ensure the sanctity of the ballots. It calls on respect for the federal character but insists on effective representations at all levels because the Country needs experience and skillful leadership to successfully pursue to logical conclusions any proposals or recommendations towards alleviating the myriads of problems facing the Country.
The Dialogue Adopted the following Resolutions:
Asserts that Nigeria needs a ‘New People-oriented Federal Constitution’ before 2023 General Elections given that the current 1999 Constitution does not represent the interests of the People, insisting that the New Constitution should provide for ‘True Federalism’ that heralds a Restructured Nigeria.
Calls on Presidency to live up to its mandate of preserving lives and properties by contending with the current insecurity, Demanding the Convocation of emergency ‘National Conference’ to take place in the Year 2022 to fashion out a New Federal Constitution on the Way Forward for the Federating Regions.
Agrees that the ‘2023 Presidency’ should be Zoned to the South.
Demands the Amendment of the ‘Electoral Law’ to provide for Electronic Voting and Real-time Transmission of Results before 2023 General Elections, to provide for transparency, accountability and to allow the ‘Sanctity of the Ballot Box’ and to reduce electorates’ voting apathy.
Similarly, insists that ‘Federal Character’ should be used in federal appointments.
Charges the Federal Government to urgently address the recurring security challenges in the country as part of the efforts to avert a second civil war and possible disintegration of the Country.
The Dialogue expressed its belief in a United Nigeria and does not support or believe in secession. but insists on acts of equality, peace
and justice, adopting and unveiled the YOTSI proposed “United Nigeria Advocacy Committee (UNAC)”, whose official unveiling ceremony was conducted by His Excellency, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Nigeria’s Former Minister of Urban Housing and Former Governor of Ondo State, under the supervision of the above-mentioned various leaders of ethnic nationalities. The mandate of the committee is to facilitate Nigeria’s constitutional restructuring and the country’s return to true federalism while working to promote national unity, peacsocio-political integration, religious harmony, and national stability
Conclusively, the meeting in its resolve Concluded by
acknowledging with immense gratitude the invaluable creativity of the convener, organizers, and collaborative partners, in ensuring the success of the National Inter-Ethnic Peace Dialogue and prays the implementation of its decisions for a better Nigeria and the common good of all Nigerians.