Delegates to the National Conference will today reconvene to ratify or amend its rules of procedures as well as discuss other pertinent national issues including President Goodluck Jonathan’s last week inaugural address at the conference.
The conferees are resuming plenary sitting today after a short adjournment to allow them study the various working documents that were supplied to them last Tuesday shortly after the inaugural sitting.
Two more documents, the draft Rules of Procedure for the Conference and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 were also supplied to the delegates last Thursday.
Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications of the conference, Mr. James Akpandem recalled yesterday that at the inaugural sitting presided over by the Chairman of Conference, Hon. Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, delegates agreed that the second stanza of the National Anthem should be adopted as the opening and closing prayer for all sittings of the Conference.
According to him, “Faithbased prayers were ruled out.”
Delegates also agreed that except for very special cases of physical incapacity and serious health concerns, sitting arrangement in the chamber of the conference should be in alphabetical order.
“Although a delegate raised the issue of allowances for aides of delegates, it did not achieve popular acclamation,” he added.
On resumption today, delegates will debate and adopt the Rules of Procedure for the National Conference and subsequently commence debate of the President’s address delivered at the inauguration of Monday, March 17, 2014.
President Goodluck Jonathan had while inaugurating the conference hinted that the final report of the conference might be subjected to a referendum if that is the desire of the delegates
In setting the agenda for the conference, Jonathan had said it is his expectation that participants at the conference will patriotically articulate and synthesise the thoughts of Nigerians, views and recommendations for a stronger, more united, peaceful and politically stable Nigeria.
He had urged them to forge the broadest possible national consensus in support of those recommendations, and strive to ensure that they are given the legal and constitutional backing to shape the present and the future of the country.
He had said: “This conference is open for us to table our thoughts and positions on issues, and make recommendations that will advance our togetherness.
“The issues range from form of government, structures of government, devolution of powers, revenue sharing, resource control, state and local government creation, boundary adjustment, state police and fiscal federalism, to local government elections, indigeneship, gender equality and children’s rights, amongst others,” he added.
Aside these, the conferees are expected to discuss other aspects of the president’s speech and take their informed position.
Already, some working documents have been supplied the delegates. They include the Report of the 1995 Constitutional Conference, (Containing the Draft Constitution) Vol 1., Report of the Constitutional Conference, 1995 (Containing the Resolutions and Recommendations) Vol 2. and the Report of the Political Bureau (March, 1987).
Others are the “Main Report of the National Political Reform Conference, 2005. Implementation Guide of the National Political Reform Conference, 2005, Report of the Presidential Committee on Review of Outstanding Issues from Recent Constitutional Conferences (Main Report) July 2012, Report of the Presidential Committee on Review of Outstanding Issues from Recent Constitutional Conferences (Executive Summary) July 2012, Policy Recommendations of the Presidential Committee to Review Outstanding issues from recent Constitutional Conferences July 2012.
Also supplied to the delegates are President Goodluck Jonathan’s Speech on the occasion of Nigeria’s Centenary Celebrations, President Goodluck Jonathan’s Speech at the inauguration of the National Dialogue Advisory Committee (Monday 7th October, 2013), President Goodluck Jonathan’s Speech at the inauguration of the 2014 National Conference of the People of Nigeria (Monday 17th March, 2014) and The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and the Draft Rules of Procedure for the Conference.
In a related development, two factional Presidents of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Comrade Adewale Ajani and Yakub Shendam, who are delegates to the conference are now laying claim to representing Nigerian Youths at the confab.
Though Mr Ajani came under the aegis of NYCN, Shendam was accredited as one of the delegates from “other youth bodies.”
In another development, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and other stakeholders in the region have rallied the region together to create a platform where all its delegates at the conference will first have to harmonise issues concerning the region before decisions are taken at the floor of the conference.
The decision to create the platform “Northern Delegates Forum” (NDF) was agreed upon on Thursday at a one -day retreat put together by the ACF in Abuja for northern delegates to the conference following concerns among stakeholders in the region that the seemingly non-preparation and non coherent positions of the region may work against the zone at the end of the conference.
Of concern to the stakeholders is the widening division in the region particularly the North Central which seems not to be going along with the core north on the political matters.
For some times now, the North Central has been distancing itself from the core North on the issue of power shift and also alleging marginalisation of the region by the core north.
Apart from this, the core North, due to lack of interest in the National Conference initially did not mobilise the region effectively and as such had to forge a common position lately hence the need to have a common platform where issues concerning the region are harmonised before final decisions are taken by the conference.
Speaking to a source close to the formation of the NDF, a source who craves anonymity admitted that the North has to hurriedly salvage the lack of cohesion among the different groups representing the region at the conference so that the North would not short change itself at the end of the dialogue.
“Yes, we have to admit that we have problem in the North, the problem of insecurity, unemployment, collapse of viable industries in cities like Kano, Kaduna and of course the continued widening political difference among our people and if we don’t find a way to harmonise these issues at the conference, the interest of the common man in the North may have been put in jeopardy by the elites” said Mr Mohammed Ibrahim, ACF National Publicity Secretary.