Prof. Ben Nwabueze has stated that his decision to decline his nomination to the 13-member national conference committee by President Goodluck Jonathan was based on his poor health.
In a statement on Thursday, Nwabueze, 83 said: “It is an appointment for a younger person, not for an old man of 83 years afflicted by ill-health.”
President Jonathan had announced Nwabueze’s name into the committee headed by Senator Femi Okurounmu, but there had been no official explanation of his absence when the panel was inaugurated recently.
According to Nwabueze, the President should have nominated someone else to the committee rather than asking him who is battling with a terminal illness at a very old age to come and be a part of the committee.
“It is not generally known to people that I have been fighting prostrate cancer for some years now, and have been kept going by consultations from time to time with, and treatment by a Consultant Oncologist at Charing Cross Hospital, London,” he said.
“My appointment with the Consultant Oncologist had been shifted many times because of several postponements in the dates of The Patriots meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Summit at Uyo, both of which eventually took place on August 29 and September 3 and 4 respectively, leaving me free at last to travel to London on September 8 for my medical appointments.”
However, the elder statesman who is the convener of The Patriots, a group that has been in the forefront for the convocation of a national conference, hinted that he was already working with 13 prominent lawyers in Nigeria to draft a new people’s constitution.
“This is the area in which I think my contribution to the work of the conference would be particularly useful, and I do not see this as in any way conflicting with the terms of reference of the Presidential Committee, although they (i.e. the Terms of Reference) contain a somewhat vaguely worded item, to wit, “to advise government on legal procedures and options for integrating decisions and outcomes of the national dialogue/conference into the constitution and laws of the nation,” he said.