The Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, has called on the National Assembly to suspend its ongoing constitutional amendment saying continuing with it would amount to a duplication of functions.
According to the union, the mandate of the constitutional amendment and the Federal Government’s National Dialogue which has been approved by President Goodluck Jonathan to pave way for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference were the same.
The National President of NUJ, Muhammed Garba, who said this at a press briefing on Thursday in Abuja also called for the inclusion of journalists in the Advisory Committee on National Dialogue.
He said, “The setting up of the committee has shown that the political system has failed because if the three arms of government cannot address the issues, then the political system has failed. The government should make sure that all the issues are addressed accordingly.
“But what is going to happen to the constitutional amendment? All the issues to be discussed in the national dialogue such as state creation, are also the issues in contention before the constitutional amendment. We hereby suggest that the National Assembly should suspend the constitutional amendment for the meantime pending the outcome of the national dialogue committee; at the end, it will be sent to the National Assembly for consideration.
“We have seen some eminent Nigerians selected as members of the committee. For us, it is a very good development because people have been agitating for it. The issue of national dialogue is more appropriate because quite a number of Nigerians have been clamouring for it. Our only worry is that the media is not represented; we need to be represented. The committee has to be very careful in whatever agenda before it.”
Garba also faulted the restriction of issues to be discussed during the dialogue saying all contending agitations should be discussed.
“There should be ‘no go area’; even the people advocating that this country should be divided should be given an opportunity to be heard. Let’s discuss everything. I don’t believe in ‘no go area’. Everything should be discussed; after all, we are talking of national dialogue and reconciliation.
“The selection or election of the members should be based on merit. We will make sure that all the issues discussed on power and electricity are adequately addressed because power is very central to national development,” he said.
The NUJ President also expressed concern over some national issues including the spate of insecurity in the North East engendered by the Boko Haram; face-off between the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities and the strike called by the National Association of Resident Doctors in Nigeria.
He said, “Kidnapping and oil theft are now lucrative business and have continued unchecked for the past three years. We thought that with the kidnap of some Journalists in Abia State about two years ago, government would have done something about it.
“The ASUU strike is really very touching and disturbing. There is no way it won’t affect academic calendar in Nigerian Universities. This will go a long way in affecting the academic standards. The standard of education will continue to come down.
“I appeal to the Federal Government to ensure that all the issues are amicably resolved. We must have to address the issue of education in Nigeria. University education in Nigeria is being crippled. We also call on government to intervene in the strike by NARD because health sector strike would mean more deaths in Nigeria.”