President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday threw his weight behind going to a referendum if the need arises after the deliberations at the National Conference may have ended in three months.
Speaking while declaring open the National Conference in Abuja, President Jonathan urged the state and national assemblies to “speed up the constitutional amendment process especially with regards to the subject of a referendum.”
He also thanked the people for accepting “dialogue as a means of resolving differences and tensions that may exist in the country” and the National Assembly for introducing the provision for a referendum in the proposed amendment of the Constitution.
“The National Conference is therefore being convened to engage in intense introspection about the political and socio-economic challenges confronting our nation and to chart the best and most acceptable way for the resolution of such challenges in the collective interest of all the constituent parts of our fatherland”, he said.
The President also noted that the “sole motivation for convening this conference is the patriotic desire for a better and greater nation” insisting that “we are determined that things must be done in a way and manner that will positively advance that objective”.
He further noted that the government is not unmindful of the argument of those who say that we do not need such a conference since we already have an elected Parliament and an elected Government in place.
Despite the highs and lows experienced in “our history as an entity”, President Jonathan insisted that “the fact that we have weathered all storms and continued with the mission of evolving a truly national identity signifies that we are going in the right direction”, adding that “The strongest nations in the world today also went through their own formative stages; some for decades and others for centuries.”
The President also noted that “to be successful, nation-builders must continually strive to evolve better and more inclusive societies in which every citizen is a proud and committed stakeholder”, he said.