Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has stated that the short time span between the submission of the 2014 National Conference (CONFAB) Report to him and the 2015 election was a major factor in his inability to implement the report.
Jonathan also claimed that the defection of the then-Speaker of the House of Representatives, now Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, contributed to the report’s failure to be implemented.
He also stated that he believed he would win the presidential election in 2015, giving him enough time to execute the CONFAB’s recommendations.
And with some segments of the population already suspicious of all his government’s actions, Jonathan claimed that his intentions could have been misread “especially against the ECOWAS protocol on constitutional reforms which states that no substantial modification shall be made to the electoral laws of member states in the last six months before elections”.
Jonathan, who made the disclosures on Tuesday at the presentation of a book on the CONFAB titled ‘The National Conversation’ and authored by two journalists who played vital roles at the conference, Akpandem James and Sam Akpe, said he expected his failure to implement the report to continue to generate interest and debates with people approaching the discourse from the viewpoints of their beliefs, sectional sentiments, political orientation and ideological persuasion.
“Whenever people say that I should have implemented its recommendations, my feeling is either those people did not understand the political environment at that time, the length of time it would take to implement the report of a conference like that or probably were just playing politics with such an important matter,” said Jonathan, whose speech was read by former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and one-time President of the Senate, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.
“Those knowledgeable about the processes of constitutional reforms will know that to implement the CONFAB report, a number of alterations will be made to the Constitution, which would require the involvement of the National Assembly and state assemblies.
“Such elaborate review couldn’t have been possible at that time because by the time the report was submitted in August 2014, we were already on the verge of a general election.
“It is also important to point out that at that time, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who was a member of my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had already moved out, with some members, to the opposition party.
“When you know that your parliament is under that kind of situation, it would have been imprudent on my own part to take such a precious document, which I consider as crucial to our development yearnings, to a parliament that would not give it due consideration.”
Jonathan, who boasted of giving the conference participants complete autonomy to make the best judgments for the country, claimed that the socio-political atmosphere in the country at the time made it difficult for him to implement the findings quickly.
He asked residents to refrain from playing politics with matters of national importance in order to ensure the country’s progress, stability, and peace.
According to the former President, his administration aided the CONFAB in promoting a sense of belonging among ethnicities and putting a stop to agitations that could destabilise the country.