Leaders Raise 50-Man Group to Calm Frayed Nerves at National Conference

KutigiA 50-man group of delegates has been raised to smoothen proceedings at the the seemingly embattled National Conference holding in Abuja.The group is expected to calm the nerves that appear frayed over endless disagreements about how the Conference should reach decisions.

After the first debate on Wednesday, the Conference was adjourned to reconvene in the afternoon to enable 50 representatives of the six geo-political zones have a close-door meeting with the Conference Chairman, Honourable Justice Kutigi, towards resolving the argument behind the voting pattern during the Conference.

The Conference Chairman was mandated through a motion on Tuesday, to convene a meeting involving leaders of delegates across the country to deliberate on the issue of consensus, three-quarter majority votes or two-third majority.

When the Conference resumed in the afternoon, Justice Kutigi announced that the meeting with the selected delegates would continue since it was necessary to exhaustively discuss the issue. The meeting had made tremendous progress before going on break which was why it was decided that it should continue for other outstanding issues to be resolved before returning to plenary on Monday,a statement by James Akpandem,assistant secretary,media and communicatons to the National Conference said.

The most remarkable highlight of Wednesday’s session was the unusual outburst by the Lamido of Adamawa, Alhaji Muhammadu Barkindo Mustapha . He said those who have been making various kind of threats have nowhere to go “if Nigeria disintegrates , god forbid”.He informed the delegates that his territory extends to Cameroun where there is also Adamawa state.
He pleaded that the delegates should follow the voting pattern suggested by President Goodluck Jonathan, except we want to disobey the President.But ‘if we are pushed to the wall, we will simply walk out, the Lamido of Adamawa said.
Newsdiaryonline learnt that there is great suspicion of the intentions of the federal government by northern leaders.Two factors have heightened this suspicion. Northern leaders say the delegates list is skewed in favour of the South.Two thirds of the delegates are from the Southern part of the country ,some Northerners say.They also said there is religious bias againsMuslims.There are just about 183 Muslims in the 492 delegates, some observers claimed.
Wednesday’s session of the National Conference commenced with a debate as to whether the Conference should invite memoranda from the public outside issues to be presented by delegates. The question was put by the Conference Chairman, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi.

While some delegates were of the opinion that much time would be wasted in seeking memoranda from members of the public in view of the deadline given the Conference to conduct its deliberations, others said the Conference was not in a better position to speak for the generality of Nigerians.

First to speak on the issue was Bello Mohammed who suggested that no memorandum should be invited from the public in view of the fact that the Presidential Advisory Committee that preceded the Conference had already toured all areas of the country to gather opinions on the Conference

His suggestion that to shorten time, the Conference should fall back on those memoranda gathered by the advisory committee was countered by Kunle Olajide who said the memoranda collected by the advisory committee were tailored towards the organization of the Conference.

Olajide said it would not be right not to ask for memoranda from the larger public. According to him, “I don’t think it would be right not to collect memoranda from the public. We need to know what the people are saying.”

Olajide was supported by Dr. Adaeze Nwouzo, Dozie Ike and Felicia Sani who said the advisory committee did not seek inputs regarding the Conference but on the necessity of and modalities for the Conference.

Also speaking in support of the call for memoranda was Muhammed Maigari Dingyadi who said inputs from the public would make deliberations by the delegates more democratic and rich.

His position was supported by Mosunmola Umoru, Ekaette Judith Umoh, Sanni Zoro, Nnimo Bassey, Esther Gonda and Olawale Osun; among others.

However, Josephine Anenih, in her contribution said calling for memoranda would certainly delay the Conference in its assignment; she suggested that delegates should rather use the weekends to visit their constituencies and source for opinions on several issues.

At the end of the debate when the question was put, majority of the delegates voted in favour of the issue. The Conference was mandated to call for memoranda with a deadline of two weeks while other businesses of the Conferences will continue.

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