The fourth day of plenary at the ongoing National Conference ended in a deadlock as delegates again failed to agree on the voting procedure to be adopted for the confab.
This resulted in the formation of a 50-member Consensus Group to resolve the lingering crisis over whether the Conference should adopt a consensus, three-quarter or two-third majority in taking decisions.
Signs of trouble had emerged earlier in the day as delegates arrived and formed clusters to discuss the controversial voting formula.
However, when the Chairman, Idris Kutigi, finally declared the sitting opened at about 10.30a.m, the chamber was already charged and delegates were ready for a showdown.
It was the warning by the Lamido of Adamawa, Aliyu Mustapha, that some so-called elders who claim to be supporters of the President were about to derail the Conference that ignited trouble.
When it was obvious that the Conference would be disrupted, the Chairman handed a list to Vice Chairman, Bolaji Akinyemi, to read out to the house.
He said, “I have a little explanation to make. The group we formed in the morning has been meeting at a hall in the Administrative Block. That meeting continued until we adjourned for lunch.
“We went a long way to solve our problem. We have to go back and finish our meeting. When we finish, some of your representatives will come back to brief you.
We want to make a comprehensive report of our meeting. We don’t want a repeat of what happened yesterday. The people we called are not permanent. We will call on others to come and join us and by the grace of God we will succeed. This meeting stands adjourned till Monday. Let’s go back and finish our meeting.”
Debates at the Conference had become rancorous right from Monday, when delegates from different parts of the country took divergent positions on the touchy matter.
The situation almost went out of hand on Tuesday when some delegates stalled the adoption of the amended Rules of Procedure of the Conference on grounds that there was no basis to take such a decision.
During the ensuing disagreement, a delegate who wanted to speak without approval from the Chairman had attempted to assault a staff of the Conference secretariat for not obliging him the microphone.
Angered by the action of his colleague, a former Information Minister, Frank Nweke Jnr. had sprung to his feet and stood between the charging delegate and the Conference staff.
It took the intervention of other delegates to stop Mr. Nweke Jnr. from going physical with the offending delegate.
Unable to control the situation, Mr. Kutigi slammed the gavel to adjourn the sitting and urge leaders of delegation to go back and consult with each other to resolve the issue.
Find full list of members of the Consensus Group below.
Find full list of members of the Consensus Group below.
The Consensus Group
1. Chief Olu Falae
2. Dr. Kunle Olajide
3. General Ike Nwachukwu
4. Chief Mike Ahamba, SAN
5. Chief Peter Odili
6. Edwin K, Clark
7. Prof. Ibrahim Gambari
8. Prof. Jibril Aminu
9. Prof. Jerry Gana
10. Alhaji Adamu Waziri
11. Mallam Tanko Yakassai
12. Senator Ibrahim Idah
13. General A.B. Mamman
14. Chief A.K. Horsfall
15. Chief Josephine Annenih
16. Issa Aremu
17. Ms. Hauwa Evelyn Shekarau
18. Hajiya Bola Shagaya
19. Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN
20. Amb. Vincent Okobi
21. Amb. (Prof.) Lawrence Ekpebu, OFR
22. Senator Femi Okunrounmu
23. Dr. Joe Nwaogu
24. Hon. Mohammed Umara Kumalia
25. Prof. Auwalu Yadudu
26. Prof. Iyorchia Ayu
27. Obong Victor Attah
28. Senator Khairat Abdulrazaq Gwadabe
29. Hon. Ghali Umar Na’Abba, CFR
30. His Excellency, Adamu Aliero
31. Atedo Peterside
32. Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife
33. Prof. Isa B. Mohammed
34. Kashim Ibrahim Imam
35. Senator Florence Ita-Giwa
36. H.E. Ken Nnamani
37. Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu
38. Alhaji Sule Yahya Hamma
39. Dr. Abubakar Sadique Mohammed
40. Chief Olusola Akanmode
41. HRH, Justice Lawal Hassan Gummi, Emir of Gummi
42. Mr. Ledum Metee
43. Mr. Fola Adeola
44. Senator Mimibariya Amange
45. Rt. Hon. Anayo Nebe
46. Raymond Dokpesi
47. Benjamin Elue
48. General Alani Akinrinade
49. Ndukka Obaigbena
50. Justice Mamman Nasir
Delegates, yesterday, agreed that the secretariat should call for memoranda from the public on issues to be deliberated upon.
The Chairman, Retired Justice Idris Kutigi threw the suggestion back to the delegates at the resumed plenary.
“Do you authorise the Secretariat to call for submission of memoranda from the public and for how long?’’
Most of the delegates answered: “Yes, for two weeks”.
However, there were few dissenting voices, who said calling for memoranda would be a waste of time.
Mosumola Umoru, a youth delegate, said that memoranda would ensure that the voice of majority of Nigerians were heard, pointing out that some segments of the country were under-represented at the conference.
“The youth, which have a population of about 80 million of Nigerians, are represented with only 18 delegates at this conference.
“We have set up a group via twitter and other social media to collate the views and recommendations of the youth population with regards to direction at this conference.
“If we call for memoranda, it will increase the contribution of Nigerians toward the process of developing a new nation,’’ she said.
Adeze Uwuzor, a delegate representing Ebonyi, also supported the idea of memoranda from the public.
“Let it not look as if we are selfish here. Memoranda are necessary but the secretariat can summarise them so that all Nigerians can be heard.”
Dozie Ikedife, a delegate representing the South East, said: “The conference owes it a duty to ensure that everybody makes an input.
“This is democracy, we should invite the public to make input,” she said.
Felicia Sanni, a delegate representing the market women, also supported memoranda, saying that the opinion of 492 delegates could not cover the whole country
In her contribution, Josephine Anenih, an elder stateswoman, however, said that there “is no need for memoranda considering the available time for the conference.’’
She advised the delegates to consult with the people they were representing from Friday to Sunday, when the plenary would be on adjournment.
“We should be mindful of the timeframe that we have; we have spent almost two weeks and if we start calling for memoranda, it will take up our time.
“I do not think it is necessary; we came from several zones and interest groups and we sit here from Monday to Thursday.’’
Bello Mohammed, a delegate representing Kebbi, however, noted that the Presidential Advisory Council on the conference had already gone round the country to collate memoranda.
“Nigerians indicated issues they will like the conference to address in these memoranda and advised the secretariat to get the memoranda so as to save time,’’ he said.
Kunle Olajide, an elder statesman, said that the memoranda that were submitted to the advisory council were specifically to state the form which the ongoing conference should assume.
“The memoranda that were submitted to the advisory council were specifically for the modality of organising this conference and they have specific titles to which they were supposed to address.
“As we speak here today, all Nigerians want to know what goes on here and it will be right and proper if we advertise for memoranda.
“Let them (Nigerians) send in their views because now, we are discussing issues that pertain to re-launching Nigeria,” he said.
MONDAY: Some delegates have described the stormy session during Monday’s debate on the drafted rules for the conference as being healthy for it.
They said that the stormy session was an indication that the delegates were passionate about the conference.
A delegate representing Lagos State, Mrs Olufunmi Bashorun, said all that happened at the plenary was in line with the law of sociology.
“In any group, there should be a forming stage, stormy stage, normal stage and performing stage.
“Since we are deliberating on the rules which will guide the conference, I think everything is still in order,’’ the delegate said.
She said if all the delegates were moving towards the same direction, “it means we have come here to play’’.
Bashorun said some of the issues needed to be agreed on, just as some would require 75 per cent vote while others might be agreed upon by a two-thirds majority vote.
The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Abdulwahed Omar, said the active participation by the delegates showed they were passionate about the development of Nigeria.
“The stormy session was very healthy for the conference.
“Had it been everybody was moving towards the same direction, it will tell you the kind of conference we are going to have.
“The fact that people are so passionate and are talking about what they believe in on the rules is an indication that the delegates are ready for business,’’ Omar said.
Another delegate, Mr Olawale Okunniyi, representing the Pro-National Conference Organisations (PRONACO), stressed the need for the delegates to get it right from the rules.
Okunniyi said deliberations by the delegates had shown their level of interest and commitment.
“Don’t forget that the rules we are considering are supposed to determine how the conference will run and the life of the conference.
“By what you have seen today, it is one of the indices of a credible National Conference where people want to actively own the process.
“We must commend the delegates for showing patriotism. This is very good for the conference. It shows that people have set their minds at the issues that affect the conference.
“Getting the rules right will solve 50 per cent of the problems that will come up in the conference,’’ Okunniyi said.
He, however, stressed the need to improve facilities available at the conference venue.
“We need electronic communication gadgets to speak and to vote,” he said
Quote from delegates:
We are not scared of disintegration
And if we are pushed to the wall, we will easily walk out of this conference,
If something happens and the country disintegrates, God forbids, many of those who are shouting their heads off, will have nowhere to go,
But I and the people of Adamawa and many others have got somewhere to go. I am the Lamido of Adamawa and my kingdom transcends Nigeria and Cameroun. The larger part of my kingdom is in the Republic of Cameroun and a part of that kingdom is in Chad Republic.
– Lamido of Adamawa
Quote from delegates:
I see arrogance. I see harassment. I see it’s either our way or no way by the same group who felt the country belongs to them only- the people who are holding this country by the jugular at this conference. The same way they have been behaving since the creation of the Nigerian state is the same way they are aggressively exhibiting their character at this conference. But gone are the days when any part of Nigeria can be intimidated, can be coerced or harassed into submission. The majority of Nigerians have realised that 50 years of their domination, albeit illegally, has come to an end. They must sit down now and discuss. The odds are not in their favour. The threat of boycott or walkout will not change anything. We are all equal before the law. We are all equal before God.
– Adekunle Adesina Odunmorayo.
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