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Saturday, 22 March 2014


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.  

Happy reunion
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
After 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.

They 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
Those 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 collective metaphor.
Security personnel
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
There 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.     

Cutting cost
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 Tuesday.
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 reference.     
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.
“For 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 reference.
“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 statement said.
 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.
The 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 conference.
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 delegates.
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 conference.
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 delegate.
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 their aides.
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 the document.
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,” he stated.
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 Thursday.
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 [NJI].
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 Monday.
 Under 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
The 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 National Conference.
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 confab.
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 stated.
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 northern stand.
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.
It 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
No 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 (APGA).
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”.

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Editor's Mail

Love the article on Gaddafi
We must rise above tribalism & divide & rule of the colonialist who stole & looted our treasure & planted their puppets to lord it over us..they alone can decide on whosoever is performing & the one that is corrupt..but the most corrupt nations are the western countries that plunder the resources of other nations & make them poorer & aid the rulers to steal & keep such ill gotten wealth in their country..yemen,syria etc have killed more than gadhafi but its not A̷̷̴ good investment for the west(this is laughable)because oil is not in these countries..when obasanjo annihilated the odi people in rivers state, they looked away because its in their favour & day! Samosa Iyoha

Hello from
I was amazed to find a website for Africans in Hungary.
Looks like you have quite a community there. Here in SA we have some three million Zimbabweans living in exile and not much sign of going home ... but in Hungary??? Hope to meet you on one of my trips to Europe; was in Steirmark Austria near the Hungarian border earlier this month. Every good wish for 2011. Geoff in Jo'burg

I'm impressed by
ANH work but...
Interesting interview...
I think from what have been said, the Nigerian embassy here seem to be more concern about its nationals than we are for ourselves. Our complete disregard for the laws of Hungary isn't going to help Nigeria's image or going to promote what the Embassy is trying to showcase. So if the journalists could zoom-in more focus on Nigerians living, working and studying here in Hungary than scrutinizing the embassy and its every move, i think it would be of tremendous help to the embassy serving its nationals better and create more awareness about where we live . Taking the issues of illicit drugs and forged documents as typical examples.. there are so many cases of Nigerians been involved. But i am yet to read of it in So i think if only you and your journalists could write more about it and follow up on the stories i think it will make our nationals more aware of what to expect. I wouldn't say i am not impressed with your work but you need to be more of a two way street rather than a one way street . Keep up the good work... Sylvia

My comment to the interview with his excellency Mr. Adedotun Adenrele Adepoju CDA a.i--

He is an intelligent man. He spoke well on the issues! Thanks to Mr Hakeem Babalola for the interview it contains some expedient information.. B.Ayo Adams click to read editor's mail
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