SELF-DETERMINATION, RESTRUCTURING AND THE REFERENDUM DEBATE: THE LOWER NIGER CONGRESS, (LNC), PERSPECTIVE.

(Being the Contextual Interpretation of some key terminologies in the raging debate over the inevitable Reconfiguration of the broken down Federation of Nigeria, issued by the LNC July 15, 2016).

1) RESTRUCTURING.

“Restructuring”, as being canvassed in Nigeria, simply means a return to the Federal basis of Nigeria which was destroyed since 1966 by the abrogation of the 5 Constitutions that defined the Federation of Nigeria.(Four Regional and one Federal), thereby restoring the hijacked Sovereignty of the erstwhile Federating Units each of which also reworks its internal Constitutional Structures ahead of the consensual Reconstitution of the broken down Federation of Nigeria.

It follows that the task of Restructuring simply entails the wholesale jettisoning of the Unitary Constitutional Order (presently the 1999 Constitution), and the replacement of same by a 2-Stage Process in which a new aggregation of Federating Constitutions are in the first Stage, distilled autonomously by willing, compatible contiguities in the Regions, then Unionized by Negotiations in the Second Stage at which powers are donated by the Prospective Federating Units to make the Union (Federal) Constitution, each stage ratified by a Referendum.

What we did in PRONACO (2005-2006) was to activate the Sovereignty of the Peoples of Nigeria by mobilizing them into a process that painstakingly negotiated and distilled the Draft Constitutions that could replace the Unitary farce imposed since 1966, through a Transitional arrangement in which the existing Constitutional Structures and the sitting Governments elected thereunder, would be eased out by a consensual process thereby ousting any possibility of violence.

We followed this in 2007 by filing a Suit Challenging the Legitimacy of the so-called 1999 Constitution, in which we had prayed the Court to pronounce the already self-evident truth that “We the People..”, did not discuss, make, enact or in any way approve the said 1999 Constitution, as claimed in the Preamble to the document, which without more, renders the document a forgery at Law, and therefore a fraud against the People locked into the Nigeria Federation defined by it, insofar as their consent was neither sought nor obtained.

Accordingly, we asked for a consequential order for a Transitional Process in which the replacement for the rejected 1999 Constitution will be negotiated, finalized, taken to Referendum and made operational by elections, just as South Africa did 1990-1994 to ease out its rejected Apartheid Constitution.

I filed that Suit, and by the unanimous decision of the Plaintiffs,(including Ojukwu, Enahoro, Soyinka, Onoh, Gbonigi, Agbeyegbe,Bankole-Oki, Shettima, Asari), have remained the Lead-Counsel to date and can report authoritatively that despite joining issues with us, the Nigerian State, has not found any viable answers to both the Challenge and the Reconstitution Processes we so formally Proposed.

If any group could lay claim to knowing what Restructuring means in the context of today’s Unitarized Nigeria, and how to go about “Restructuring” that Nigeria, it must be this group that assembled 164 Ethnic Delegations for over a year and half (2005-2006), coming out with actual Draft Constitutions that remain potent to date, having been openly endorsed by virtually ALL the Regional agitations for variants of Restructuring, including the armed groups. The various Agitations for Secession from the Nigeria Union are the direct result of Nigeria refusing to address the legitimate Constitutional Grievances thrown up by the aforementioned Unitarization of Nigeria since 1966/1967.

Many commentators give their own totally uninformed or mischievous interpretation to Restructuring, such definitions including the allocation of some more revenue or powers, to the present States. Others chant

“Six Geopolitical Zones” founded on the very Sates created incrementally since May 27, 1967 specifically to defeat Regional Autonomy which underpinned Nigeria’s Federalism, when it worked. Worse still, none of these “Restructuring” chanters has advanced any practical plan of how to enact it all, beyond occasional, completely lame press statements, urging the Government to repent and Restructure, not to talk of any Practical Steps to generate the situation and compel the the Status Quo promoters to seek a truce.

All these are the things the Lower Niger Congress has brought to the table.

(2) SELF-DETERMINATION

Another phenomenon that has suffered much misinterpretation is the term “Self-Determination”, especially in the camp of those who merely chant “Restructuring” and who perceive Self-Determination as being coterminous with “Secession”, thus concomitantly, War and misery.

However, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa shed some light on this misconception in a recent article “BREXIT: WHAT LESSONS FOR NIGERIA” where he stated that the Lower Niger Congress is speaking about Self-Determination which does not necessarily mean Secession.

Those who did not understand him should learn now that Self-determination embeds a gamut of options ranging from various shades of Federalism, (as Nigeria had up to 1966), to Confederacy (as European Union Countries have now) and outright Independence (such as the post-Soviet Union Independent Countries of Russia, Ukraine, Georgia etc), which seems to be the manifestation of it that relates to “Secession”.

It is basically about the DEGREE OF AUTONOMY which the Territory seeking to Self-determine, pushes for or gets, as well as the attitude of the State to such push and demand by any Territory.

At ABURI in January, 1967, the then Eastern Nigeria negotiated for the variant of a Confederal Arrangement that gave a slightly higher degree of autonomy than the Federating Arrangements that collapsed in 1966. It was when the controllers of the Nigerian State reneged from that Confederation Arrangement as agreed in ABURI that Eastern Nigeria moved to the next degree in Self-Determination, which was OUTRIGHT INDEPENDENCE as a Country it announced as “Biafra” on the 30th of May, 1967.

All the years of hard work that culminated in the PRONACO and its Draft Constitution 2005-2006, was a practical process to take Nigeria back to its Federal Foundations, within the context of the Rights to Self-determination, of Constituent Ethnic Nations that make up Nigeria.

It was the adamant refusal of the promoters of the master-servant One-Nigeria to reconsider their position all these years since 1967, that led to the switching of gears by LNC (working with its MNN Partners) to the next Degree of Self-Determination, which is OUTRIGHT INDEPENDENCE for the Lower Niger Territory which is congruent with the combined Old Eastern and Midwestern Regions. This is aggregation of the Territories being variously called “Biafra” and “Niger Delta” by the Agitation Groups in the Eastern half of Southern Nigeria, that now seek independence from the failed Federation of Nigeria

This is where you find some sharp convergence between the pursuits of MASSOB/IPOB/NIGER DELTA AGITATION with those of the Lower Niger Congress, referred to by Mazi Ohuabunwa as an “Amalgamation” of those in his aforementioned BREXIT piece, except for the different METHODOLOGY adopted by the LNC, as he rightly noted.

This LNC Methodology is a nonviolent process that culminates in a REFERENDUM, just as we witnessed in the Brexit vote 2016 and the Scotexit 2014 that preceded it.

(3) REFERENDUM

The option of Referendum (instead of Force and violence as Nigeria had done since 1967) in approaching issues of Self-determination, as articulated by Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, should quite simply be common ground to all sides to this debate and does not need much elucidation. The debate has to do with, what questions the populace want answered, in which Geographical Area and by what Mechanism.

Guided by current prevailing global realities on the matter of Self-Determination, especially the United Nations Instruments regulating the subject, and concerned by the imperative of avoiding the kind of mass violence that can accompany Self-Determination disputations (as was the case in the Nigeria-Biafra conflagration of 1967-1970), the Lower Niger Congress from the onset, constructed its entire engagement within the framework of CONSTITUTIONAL DISPUTATIONS, FOUNDED ON THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION, AND CAPABLE OF BEING RESOLVED BY THE MECHANISM OF A REFERENDUM.

The clarifications offered herein is aimed at halting the desperate attempt by several ignorant, dishonest or mischievous pseudo-intellectuals, to obfuscate the discourse, by deploying such terms as “Secession”, “War”,

“Break-Up” and such other scaremongering nomenclature, depicting Restructuring as a sure march to Armageddon.

Whatever the commentators may say, the main actors in the matter, including the various Regional Groups, the Government (Federal and State), the Lower Niger Congress, the Biafra Agitators, the Niger Delta Avengers and the International Stakeholders are already in the fray.

The LNC on the 27th of April, 2015 at the SOLEMN ASSEMBLY OF THE PEOPLES OF THE LOWER NIGER IN PORT HARCOURT, rolled out the march to a UN-Backed Self-determination Referendum in the Lower Niger, already being processed, and the grassroots campaigns for same is in full swing while the Eastern Nigeria US Diaspora will join the Lower Niger Referendum Train on the 27th of August 2016 in Houston at the Lower Niger Referendum Conference.

Those who wish to probe the LNC Proposals further should visit the NOTICE BOARD of the website http://www.lnc-usa.org Enquiries to +234-8100569448 (WhatsApp)

Tony Nnadi

Secretary General

Lower Niger Congress.

July 15, 2016.

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