There are indications that delegates to the ongoing national conference may clash on Wednesday when they reconvene to deliberate on their report.
The bone of contention is a document titled, “A bill for an act to further alter the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(1999) with the first, second and third alteration, and for related matters 2014.”
The draft bill is among three copies of the report of the conference that were handed over to the delegates on Monday when plenary resumed for close scrutiny before the final adoption.
The draft report of the conference came in three huge volumes as proposed by the delegates at the end of debate in July.
One part deals with issues pertaining to the constitution, which were issues proposed by each of the 20 committees.
The second part covers resolutions meant for enactment into Acts by the National Assembly while the third part concerns policy issues suggested for implementation by the President.
These were considerations agreed upon by the delegates following the completion of debate and adoption of resolutions arising from reports of the 20 committees.
The Conference Secretary, Dr. Valerie-Jennet Azinge, who addressed the delegates on behalf of the Chairman, Justice Idris Legbo-Kutigi, advised the delegates to study the draft reports before their final adoption.
She said delegates would be granted only two days to read the report and report back for consideration and adoption on Wednesday.
Speaking during the plenary, a delegate, Mallam Sani Zoro, wondered why the delegates were given a draft bill , which he described as a ‘strange document’
He also wondered why the chairman of the conference and his deputy were absent without official explanation.
He said, “Where is the chairman and his deputy? We are concerned about their well -being and security. I’m being reminded that in this era of Ebola, we should ask after everybody.
“We are happy with the draft constitution, which we didn’t expect. It is a strange document and we are going to go through it.”
Another delegate, who is also the Chairman of the Labour Party, Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, said “I also care about the whereabouts of the chairman and his deputy. Tell the leadership that we cannot read these documents and return on Wednesday. Allow us to go and read them throughout the week to enable us contribute.”
At this point, Azinge said she would no longer take contributions from delegates since she had delivered the message sent to her by the chairman of the conference.
When delegates were shouting ‘no, no,’ she said all discussions and deliberations would now hold on Wednesday.
A delegate from the North-West, Prof. Anwal Yadudu, expressed surprise at the inclusion of a draft in the documents handed over to them.
He said that most delegates were not given the opportunity to have any input in the document.
Because of this, he said it would be difficult for them to endorse what they did not discuss and agree on.
Yadudu said, “it is not our duty to do that. Let the President do whatever he likes with the report. It is a waste of time.
“As a delegate, I have no hand in it. I have no input in it. Many of us were not part of it. It is a strange document as far as I’m concerned. We are not here to make a constitution.”
Another delegate, Alhaji Mafindi Isa, said there might have been some misunderstanding among the delegates on the issue.
He said it would be better to allow the issues to be included in the Constitution in the two volumes of documents presented to them.
The bill for an act to further alter the provision of the Constitution includes the proposed 18 states .
If the bill which was sighted by our correspondent on Monday, is passed before 2015, elections might hold in the states.
The proposed states are Aba State to be created from Abia State; Adada State from Enugu State; Amana State from Adamawa State; Anioma State from Delta State; Appa State from Benue State; and Edu State from Niger State
Also listed are Etiti from the South-East; Ghari from Kano State; Gurara from Kaduna State; Kanji from Kebbi and Niger states; Katagum from Bauchi State and Ijebu from Ogun State.
Others are New Oyo from Oyo State; Akana-Anim from Anambra and Imo states; Ogoja from Cross River State, Oil Rivers from Akwa Ibom State; Ose from Ondo State; and Savannah from Borno State.
There are however disagreements among Nigerians over the number of the proposed states.
For instance, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who is a conference delegate , Mr. Femi Falana , said he was not in support of the decision.
He said it would be wrong to create new states when majority of the existing ones are currently in financial mess.
But some traditional rulers from Osun State insist that Oduduwa State must be listed among those to be created.
The traditional rulers in their memo to the leadership of the conference, said that it would amount to injustice if states were created without acceding to their demand.
The traditional rulers are the Owa Omiran of Esa-Oke, Oba Adeyemi Adediran; Olojudo of Ido-Osun, Oba Aderemi Adedapo; Alagbon Agbonbiti, Ona Iteade Adewuyi; Apetu of Ipetumodu, Oba Adedokun Adefoke and Laroka of Wanikin, Oba Kole Ojutalayo.
Apart from the traditional rulers, others who signed the memo were a former Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Bashir Awoyorebo; the President, Ife Development Board, Prof. Mushed Opeloye; and Gbenga Omiwole.
The memo read in part, “It is gratifying to note that the national conference has announced the creation of additional 18 states for the country, two of which are announced for the South-West out of the intended three.
“The two announced are New Oyo and Ijebu states. It is disheartening to note that the proposed Oduduwa State is yet to be listed despite the fact that it is on the memorandum submitted by the National Association of State Movement and Oduduwa State Movement to the conference.’’ Punch