Nigeria: Confab, tit bits from the sidelines
KUNLE ODEREMI reports a few events that have attended the confab
organised by the Federal Government to discuss nagging national
questions, which got under way on Monday.
The national conference promises to
be a leveller. It seems all major barriers are falling. The confab has
created a platform where the shakers and movers of the country mingle
with other major stakeholders in the Project Nigeria. They chat and
exchange greetings and banters.
This is particularly so for members of the Fourth Estate of the
realm. Newshounds are in physical contacts with many of their contacts
with whom they hitherto related through the telephone.
It is common to see the grin, ecstasy and sometimes consternation
written on the faces of some delegates when they come in contact with
journalists, with whom they had maintained a mutual relationship of
sources and reporters for years. Perhaps they had hoped that every
journalist should have a pot belly, rotund cheeks.
Age is no respecter of anyone
all, life is in stages: time to be born, crawl, walk and work, before
the sun sets. It is interesting that a number of leaders who held sway
at the seat of power in the past and were feared, and not just
respected, are in the general assembly. By their actions, utterances,
they told Nigerians then that they were not just in charge but actually
in control of the lever and apparatus of state. Their words then
constituted the law of the land.
But just imagine how age and time have conspired against them! Like
some say, the only thing that is not transient in life is change.
Show me your ‘beast’!
There are cars and there
are cars! That accounts for the various shapes, brands and sizes of the
ones you find in most Nigerian cities.
are symbols of power and authority, and status and opulence. You will
need to pay a visit to the confab venue (hope security operatives are
not reading this?) to see how Japanese and other auto manufacturing
countries have used modern science and technology to transform our
roads. It’s a world of ‘beasts,’ the new name for classy automobiles!
Confab venue as a metaphor
who initiated the building the National Judicial Institute (NJI),
Abuja, deserve more than a mere accolades but greater and highest
national honour. They were men of ideas, taste combined with vision.
The cosy, serene atmosphere is similar to that of the International
Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Oyo State. The NJI
provides comfort for any serious mind to traverse because of the sharp
contrast with the situation out there in the larger society. Perhaps
that is the reason some say the conference and the NJI constitute a
Then, talking about security
arrangement at the conference venue, you would wonder if those on duty
at the venue are indeed Nigerians or they are from another planet.
From the first man to the last, they represent the true symbol of
discipline and professionalism. If a nation indeed gets the kind of
leader it deserves, then, we must think and think again as Nigerians.
Dressing to kill
may be no prize for the best dressed man or woman, yet it is spectacle
to behold as delegates take steady and even majestic strides into the
conference venue. Most of them came in Monday and Tuesday in traditional
attires made from expensive fabrics. From their caps and the design of
their flowing gowns, you could easily discern their roots, ditto for
most of the women (or ladies?)
What, however, makes the ladies/women stand out is their beautiful
designs and styles, which even a misogynist will not hesitate to take a
second look at.
Delegates and their aides
The aides to some
delegates must by now be appreciating the fact that their ogas actually
need a lot of breathing space most of the time.
The strict compliance by all and sundry
with all security measures put less pressure on operatives. After all,
the conference is a serious business and there should be no room for
distraction from neither palace nor Aso Rock.
A lot of the delegates have devised
ways to cut cost during the three-month duration of the conference.
Before the confab secretariat announced that there was no provision for
aides in the budget for the event, delegates had made personal
arrangements for their own accommodation.
While some have raised the issue of welfare package for their aides,
there are others who believe the decision of the authorities to allow
delegates to source for their personal accommodation was one of the best
actions taken on the confab.
One of the planks of their argument is that it gives them the leeway
to fend off any likely intruders where they would sleep. The fear of the
prevalent amorphous intruders is indeed the beginning of wisdom!
Confab: Christian leaders’ delegates debunk leadership accusation report
THE Christian leaders’ delegation to the national conference
has debunked a media report suggestive of the fact that they accused
the leadership of the conference of bias at its inaugural session on
Mr Godswill Iyoha Iyoke, reacting to the alleged report, said that
none of the six-member delegation to the conference made any
contribution on the floor of the conference or on those issues under
Iyoke, in a statement signed on behalf of others on Wednesday, said,
“the attention of the ‘Christian leaders’ delegation to the national
conference has been drawn to misleading media reports on the goings on at the national conference.
“This was in apparent reference to the contributions of; Pastor Tunde
Bakare, who introduced himself as a Nigerian on the delegation of Ogun
State and Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, who humorously introduced himself
as, ‘a Federal Government Addendum’ delegate. None of these two eminent Nigerians represent Christians at the on-going confab.
clarity and avoidance of doubt, the Christian delegates to the confab
are Bishop J. D Bagobiri, Barr. J. A Achimugu, Professor Andrew Haruna,
Dr (Mrs) Kate Okpareke, Pastor Emmanuel Olatubosun and the undersigned,
Godswill Iyoha Iyoke.
“We wish to say that none of our six-member delegation made any
contribution on the floor of the conference; or on those issues under
“We are therefore worried as to how unambiguous introductions and contributions by others could be credited to us.
“Furthermore, we do not find anything unusual in the comments or
conduct of the said personalities at the conference to be clothed with
the cloak of controversy and contention as the reports seek to do,” the
Confab adopts national anthem’s second stanza as official prayer
Delegates to the
National Conference, on Tuesday, adopted the second stanza of the
National Anthem as official prayer and adjourned till next Monday after
sitting for almost two hours at the Conference Centre in the National Judicial Institute, Abuja.
maiden proceeding, which was slated to commence at 10.00 a.m, was
delayed to enable most of them to complete registration procedures,
coupled with vehicular traffic within the Abuja metropolis.
The chairman of the conference, Justice Idris Kutigi, his deputy,
Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Dr Valerie Azinge and other members of the steering committee
had to wait till about 10.48 a.m. to kick-start the sitting, which came
barely 24 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the
Some issues that dominated proceedings after a brief explanation by
Justice Kutigi for the delay included sitting arrangement, rules to
guide the conduct of the business of the conference, remuneration for
the conferees and infrastructure to facilitate the activities of the
The delegates submitted bank account
numbers to the conference secretariat to enable it to pay the first
tranch of their financial benefits to cover two weeks of the three-month
Dr Azinge, who announced the arrangement, was, however, silent on the
amount but emphasised the payment was across board and that it would
cover the accommodation, feeding and other logistic requirements of each
But she declared that there was no provision for the personal aides
of delegates, as a couple of the delegates tried to make a case for
But she urged the delegates to ask their drivers to get accreditation
at the conference secretariat so that the conference can take an
appropriate action for their welfare, following the submission of a
couple of delegates at the sitting.
Each delegate will receive a pay slip based on the allowance to be
paid into his bank account submitted to the conference secretariat.
Earlier, Dr Azinge had given an insight into the expected rules of
proceeding at the conference, which, initially was to be presented
tomorrow to the individual delegates so that they could digest it,
preparatory to its debate and adoption.
The leadership later made a slight adjustment on the matter before
the adjournment was announced by Justice Kutigi, as the delegates
collected their customised conference bags.
She said the adjournment was to enable the delegates to study the voluminous materials and the business rules,
so that they could come back with informed opinons so that if they had
any apprehension, it could be amended before proper commencement.
Also, Dr Azinge announced the delegates would seat from Monday to
Thursday for two weeks, during which the stakeholders are required to
submit written presentation to be delivered by their individual
representatives who would be given 10 minutes for formal presentation of
According to her, the format of each presentation must include the
subject matter, facts, issues, arguments and prayers of such
stakeholders from the conference.
While noting that a similar conference was in progress in Tanzania,
the legal luminary emphasised the need for commitment, hard work and
sacrifice on the part of all and sundry, as according to her, the
delegates have just six hours on each of the four days for proceeding to
carry out the national assignment.
Before the assembly unanimously adopted the second stanza of the
National Anthem to precede its sittings, some delegates had raised the
issue of the mode of prayer at the conference.
Some elder statesmen, like Chief Ken Nnamani and Ambassador Hassan
Adamu, as well as traditional rulers from the North, had advised the
house not to jump the gun on issues until the conference rules were
debated and adopted by the delegates.
“We should eschew ethnic bitterness, but see ourselves as Nigerians.
All of us are responsible for what Nigeria is today and we should find
the way Nigeria should be. We are here to help settle our differences,”
For the famous Lagos-based pastor, Tuned Bakare, his contribution was
three-pronged: need for punctuality, sacrifice and restraint on the
part of everybody, including the conference leadership.
He faulted those who had attempted to make a case for personal aides
and assistants, advising them to pay their personal staff from their
pockets, as the conference should be about setting new standards that
could put Nigeria in good stead.
Another issue that elicited a lot of passion among the delegates was
the sitting arrangement proposed by the leadership, which was that the
seat would be arranged in an alphabetical order.
Some delegates objected to the proposed sitting and preferred a
state-by-state structure so that their representatives could confer.
But, Chief Segun Osoba, who is leading former governors at the
conference, spoke persuasively on the proposition of the conference
leadership for alphabetical order in the sitting arrangement.
He said he was not at the conference as a delegate representing the
Yorubaland, where he hails from and that all delegates should see
themselves as representing Nigeria and relate with one another at the
conference as such. Another delegate, Atedo Peterside, aligned with
Chief Osoba on the issue, in contrast to the position canvassed by a
lawyer and activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, who said he almost missed the
opportunity of being a delegate before the adjustment made to the list
by the Presidency.
During the proceedings, Dr Azinge had also said the delegates would
begin work by debating the inauguration speech of the president and
adopt it as part of the process of setting the ball rolling next week.
Justice Kutigi, Professor Akinyemi and Dr Azinge promised to make all
the businesses of the conference as democratic as possible.
Meanwhile, former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, in
his comment after the inaugural meeting, said he was excited by the
goodwill displayed by the delegates, saying it was an indication there
would be frank discussion and agreement at the end of the day to move
the country forward.
According to him, the agitation of the people was not only because
they wanted devolution of function, but of resources so that the centre
could be decongested for the state and local governments to become more
functional, effective and robust in the delivery of services.
Confab secretariat releases draft rules •To be adopted Monday •Erring delegates face 14-day suspension
ANY erring delegate to the national conference
risks a 14-day suspension, if the entire Assembly adopts the draft
rules for the business of the conference, Nigerian Tribune learnt on
It is part of the provisions on discipline in the document tagged, National Conference Procedure Rules
2014, copies of which were obtained by some delegates yesterday in
Abuja, at the conference secretariat at the National Judicial Institute
The 28-page document, which contains 15 Orders, ranging from mode of
dressing to code of conduct, as well as what constitutes a quorum, is
expected to be debated before its adoption when delegates reconvene on
Order 10, which talks about discipline, a delegate that is established
through investigation to have published any pending matter or report of a
committee of the conference could be suspended for 14 days or the rest
of the conference.
A similar sanction awaits any delegate found guilty of obstructing
officials of the conference from performing their duties or assaulting
fellow delegates at the venue or within the premises of the conference.
Under the draft Rules, it also constitutes an improper conduct for
any delegate to smoke, take alcohol or walk about or interject when the
conference is in session, excerpt on a point of order.
It proposed what it termed formal dressing as the mode of dressing by
all delegates, just as it suggested that one third of the 492
delegates, which is about 164, is to constitute forum at the conference.
The document is subject to the approval and adoption of the
Conference, as some of the issues were hotly debated by delegates, on
Monday, when the matter of Rules of Procedure came up.
Jonathan’s speech stirs frenzied moves among delegates, leaders
Meanwhile, a preponderance of closed consultations and meetings by various interest groups
and delegates to the national conference are taking place in the
Federal Capital Territory [FCT] Abuja over national issues ahead next
Monday’s resumption by delegates.
The leadership of the 492-member
conference meant to discuss critical national issues adjourned sitting
on Monday a day after President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the
conference at the National Judiciary Institute [NJI], Abuja.
Northern delegates brainstorm in Abuja
Northern Delegates to the just inaugurated National Conference have met
on Abuja for a brainstorming session on issues affecting the region and
to enable them present common position at Conference.
At the meeting a former Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim
Coomasie and Ex-Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana have been
appointed as co-chairmen of all the Northern delegates to the ongoing
This was contained in a communique signed by Coomassie and Gana, and
made available to newsmen on Thursday night at the end of a seven hour
retreat by the Arewa Consultative Forum for northern delegates in the
It was also indicated that the forum also resolved to establish an
umbrella platform to be called the Northern Delegates Forum under which
all delegates will work in collaboration and for the common good of the
north and the nation.
Other officials of the NDF, according to the communique are to be
appointed in a manner that will reflect the diversity of the north as
well as gender sensitivity and youth participation.
“The NDF, in collaboration with the appointed members of the think
tank will harmonize position papers, working documents and research work
already adopted or carried out by the various stakeholders who have
come together to form the NDF. This will assist in adopting a common
agenda for the north for presentation at the confab”, the communique
The forum called on all delegates from each of the northern states
and the Federal Capital Territory to constitute themselves into state
fora and designate its leadership adding that the NDF will reach out to
other groups with common aspirations with a view to solidifying the
Similarly, delegates from Yorubaland are to meet in
the FCT, on Sunday, for what one of the delegates said is meant to “dot
the I’s and cross the T’s” in the programme of action the South-West
prepared preparatory to the conference.
The source added that the leaders would use the occasion to take a
critical look at the president’s speech and come up with a unified
position of the Yoruba on the fundamental issues therein.
Each delegate is expected to address the assembly on the speech when it is open for debate from Monday, barring any sudden change.
was learnt that the delegates from the zone met, on Tuesday night, in
Abuja at an undisclosed venue, but had to adjourn to next Sunday, as
many of their colleagues had travelled back to their base immediately
the conference adjourned sitting on Tuesday.
Stakeholders from the South-South also met in the FCT, on Tuesday
night, as part of their regular consultations on crucial matters
affecting the conference.
Prior to the inauguration of the conference, stakeholders in the
South-East set up a team comprising Second Republic Dr Alex Ekwueme and a
renowned constitution expert, Professor Ben Nwabueze, which is to meet
once a week with delegates from the zone to review events at the
conference, as they relate to the cause of Ndigbo.
Further checks showed that delegates representing the amalgam of
Civil Society Organisations [CSOs] in the country were equally holding
consultations on “strategic collaborations on the fundamental issues,
including logistics,” which one of their delegates claimed still hanged
in the balance.
By press time on Thursday, some of the delegates said they were yet
to receive credit alerts from their individual banks concerning the
promise made by the conference leadership that it would release funds
for the first two weeks of the conference.
Three-quarter of confab delegates accredited —Secretary
fewer than 370 delegates to the ongoing National Conference have so far
been accredited, the Conference Secretary, Dr Valerie Azinge, has said.
Azinge told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja
that “about three-quarters of the delegates have so far been accredited
for the conference”.
She said that all the delegates had not been accredited yet because they had been coming in trickles.
The secretary expressed confidence that they would all be registered without any hitch.
Azinge could not immediately confirm if there was any nomination yet
from All Progressives Congress (APC) and All Progressive Grand Alliance
Mr Akpandem James, the conference Assistant Secretary, Media and
Communications, also told NAN that the secretariat was yet to receive
any letter from APC rejecting the party’s participation.
James said based on that, ``officially, there are 492 accredited delegates to the conference”.