Confab delegates ratify 70% benchmark voting

The ongoing National Conference has resolved its logjam over voting pattern with the adoption of 70 per cent majority as the voting mode to be used in arriving at decisions at the conference.

The conference also adopted its work plan for the 3-month duration of the conference as well as approval of 20 committees to be constituted under various sub-heads.

Senator Iyorchia Ayu, representing the Former Senators’ Forum moved a motion for the adoption of the 70 per cent voting system and seconded by former Akwa Ibom Governor, Obong Victor Attah, representing the Former Governors’ Forum.

The delegates adopted the resolution at the resumption of plenary in Abuja on Monday.

It is recalled that proceedings at the conference were truncated last week as delegates failed to reach consensus on whether or not to adopt 66 per cent or 75 per cent majority as the voting mode on decisions taken at the conference.

The issue which generated a heated debate before the conference was adjourned on Wednesday last week till yesterday to allow leadership of the confab to consult with 50 “wise men”.

The contending issue was Order VI Rule 3 of the Procedure Rule, which provides that any decision in the conference shall be decided by at least a three-quarter majority.

It reads: “Any questions proposed for decision in the conference shall be determined by consensus and when this is not achievable, by a three-quarter majority of the delegates present and voting.”

Delegates were divided on the lines of North and South in their call for conventional two-thirds majority to be adopted in arriving at decisions, while others wanted the three-quarters majority to be retained.

Chairman of the conference, Justice Idris Kutigi, in his wisdom set up the 50-man consensus group and adopted the delegates, to confer with the principal officers, so as to break the deadlock.

At the resumed plenary session yesterday, the Deputy Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, presented the report of the outcome of the consultative meeting to the house.

According to him, the committee met on the 25th and 26th March, 2014 and that deliberations during these meetings were cordial.

He added that delegates worked in harmony to develop and put into effective use, the spirit of consensus building with the national interest at heart.

He said: “At the conclusion of deliberations, members reached a decision to amend Order VI Paragraph 4, XI paragraph 2 and XII paragraph 4 (e) as follows:

“In the case of failure to reach consensus, the matter shall be decided by majority vote of 70 per cent of delegates present and voting.

“That is the recommendation which that committee is bringing to you, distinguished delegates,” he said.

After his presentation, Bolaji then called for discussions, but there was overwhelming call for a motion on the recommendation of the consensus group.

Accordingly, Ayu moved for the adoption of the motion and was seconded by Attah.

“I congratulate the committee for avoiding the impression of a winner and a loser in this matter. I think we are getting to the point where we are making progress,” Professor Akinyemi said.

Thereafter, he put the motion to voice vote with the delegates overwhelmingly chorusing ‘yes’.

Accordingly, Akinyemi ruled in favour of the motion to adopt 70 per cent majority as the voting mode for the conference.

The adoption of Voting on Conference Procedure Rule was also adopted by the delegates.

Although, the Draft Rule had proposed that the Chairman of the conference, in consultation with the Vice-chairman and Secretary, should choose the committees chairmen and secretaries, delegates agreed that the various committees should choose their chairmen and secretaries.

In adopting the committees, the leadership and conference secretariat were asked to correct the overlapping of some of the committees.

A former Head of Service of the Federation and delegate to the conference on the platform of retired civil servants, noted that it was not proper to subsume Water Resources Committee under agriculture.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the confab, Justice Kutigi has threatened to walk out any delegate that tends to flout the rules of proceedings adopted by the conference.

He particularly urged delegates to always maintain decorum and adhere to rules, especially when they want to raise a point of order.

He stressed that delegates must indicate by raising of hand and will accordingly be recognised by the presiding officials before speaking.


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