YES, in spite of all the evidences to the contrary, I continue to hope that some respite just might come for us from the National Confab. Find below the summary of events in these concluding weeks of the conference. For the full article, visit here.
The National Conference convened by President Goodluck Jonathan may be winding up soon, amidst lingering dissatisfaction over the outcome of the conference.
The conference, chaired by Justice Idris Kutigi, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, has 492 delegates and it is expected to articulate and coordinate the views and thoughts of Nigerians, with a view to building a stronger, united, peaceful and stable nation.
At the end of their four-month-deliberation, the delegates reached consensus on wide-ranging recommendations made by the 20 standing committees of the conference. Some of the recommendations include the creation of 18 new states and an additional state for the South-East geopolitical zone, the zoning of elective positions at all levels of government, the establishment of state police, and the establishment of a commission to address the plight of FCT indigenes.
Others are scrapping of state/local government joint account, scrapping of state independent electoral commissions, removal of fuel subsidy and removal of immunity clause, among others.
The delegates, however, failed to reach consensus on the contentious issues of resource control and derivation principle for the Niger Delta region, which was contained in the main report of the Committee on Devolution of Power.
They were also unable to agree on two new issues: the proposed 5 per cent of the national income, each for the development of mineral resources across the federation and for the special intervention fund for national emergencies.
Professor Muhammad Nur Alkali, who was one of the six delegates representing the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (SCIA) at the 2014 National Conference in Abuja is dead.
He died in his residence in Maiduguri on the night of Friday, August 1, 2014. The 68-year old professor of History, a two-term Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri (1985 – 1992), former Director General of the Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) and Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee under the administration of General Sani Abacha.
More recently, he was a member of the Committee on Insecurity in the North East (The Boko Haram Committee). He will be buried later today, Saturday, August 2, 2014, in Maiduguri.
What to do with the recommendations?
Prior to the adjournment of plenary session on July 14, there was intense debate amongst Nigerians on who should implement recommendations of the conference. While some school of thought suggested that the recommendations should be forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law, others believed that that they should be subjected to a referendum before their inclusion in the constitution.
Alhaji Balarabe Musa, the National Chairman, Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), said that the recommendations should not be subjected to referendum on the grounds that most of them were “superficial”.
Musa said that instead of dealing with the negative state of the nation, the delegates only dealt with the consequences of the negative state of the nation. He noted that corruption, organized violence, insecurity and unemployment were some of the factors that contributed to the negative state of the country. And he suggested that as a way out, the National Assembly could regard the recommendations as public hearing.
Conversely, Gilbert Agbo, the National Secretary, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), said that the recommendations should not be forwarded to the National Assembly for passage into law, since some of the recommendations were not in favour of the legislators.
He stressed that Nigerians should be allowed to decide on the recommendations via referendum organized to determine their acceptance or rejection since “power derives from the people”.
Sam Eke, the National Chairman, Citizens Popular Party (CPP), who shared a similar viewpoint with Balarabe Musa, said that the recommendations should be forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration, amendment and passage into law.
He said that those advocating referendum were just “trying to build something on nothing.”
Waiting for draft report
There were reports on Monday that the absence of the draft final report, according to reports, may stall resumption of the National Confab, earlier scheduled to reconvene on August 4. The leadership, in a letter to delegates and signed by the Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications, James Akpandem, stated that the decision to extend the resumption date by one week was to avoid a situation where delegates would return to Abuja on August 4 and discover that there were no necessary materials to conclude the session within the time frame specified in the work plan.
There are indications that much interest in its work will have been lost when the conference eventually reconvenes to certify the draft report. The vocal section of Nigeria, from indications, believe more were lost than gained. Their opinion stems from the fact that the country may not be much different after the conference, with major national controversies subsisting.
God bless Nigeria.
I am @ojukwu_martin on twitter…and I am proudly Nigerian yet