Uncertain Fate Awaits Nigeria’s Confab Report

Uncertain Fate Awaits Nigeria’s Confab Report

Saturday, August 16, 2014 4:38 pm


Abuja – Against all expectations, the National Conference ended on a peaceful note last Thursday, or so it seems. Delegates from the Southern and the Northern part of the country had been at each others’ throat over the issue of the purported draft constitution included as part of the final report of the Conference given to them when the Conference resumed for its last week of sitting last Monday. The Northern delegates who had before the conference adjourned never hid their opposition to the issue of writing a new constitution for the country from what was agreed on at the Conference immediately raised alarm, alleging that the exercise was being railroaded to endorse a third term agenda for President Goodluck Jonathan and the State Governors. The Northern delegates who were seething with anger were forced to sheathe their swords as the Conference adjourned immediately after the distribution of the three bulky documents. But they did not go to sleep.


Justice Idris Kutigi: Confab Chairman

The Northern delegates had after a marathon meeting on Tuesday during which they decided to write the leadership to dissociate themselves from the alleged draft constitution proposed by the conference leadership. In the letter titled “’New Constitution, referendum and adoption of conference report: Issues of serious concern,” which was signed by the Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Northern Delegates Forum, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie and Gen. Jeremiah Useni (retd.), the delegates asked the leadership of the conference to discountenance and withdraw the ‘draft Constitution’ and the accompanying bills which have been circulated. Instead, they asked the conference leadership to table the draft conference report which contains only the resolutions openly and officially sanctioned and adopted by delegates for validation and adoption as provided for under the National Conference Procedure Rules, 2014 and as envisaged in the Work Plan adopted.

The Northern delegates said they were shocked when the Secretary of the Conference, Dr. Valerie Azinge, distributed some documents, including one entitled, “Report of the National Conference, 2014 draft Constitution” which they said was also accompanied by draft bills to promulgate into law the “constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2014,” when the Conference resumed last Monday. They added that they were not privy to any decision and did not participate in any processes or proceedings that led to the emergence of the ‘draft constitution’ or bills. “Moreover and to the best of our knowledge, we are unaware that the conference has, whether at plenary or committee stages of its work, taken a decision to draw up a draft Constitution, authorized or tasked any of its Committees, delegates or the conference secretariat to do so,” the Northern delegates said.

The aggrieved delegates especially itemised the items contained in the draft constitution which was of concern to them to include provisions related to state creation, boundary adjustment, referendum to adopt constitution, funding of local government areas, and deletion of Land Use Act as well as the abrogation of all existing laws related to the issues. They, therefore, described the origin of the documents as dubious and questionable and threatened to disown the report of the entire conference if the document they described as suspicious was not jettisoned.

Kutigi had at the less than 20 minutes session of the Conference last Wednesday tried to convince the Northern delegates to toe the path of peace with the argument that the document labeled “draft constitution” contains nothing else, but the various alterations and amendments to the 1999 Constitution proposed by the delegates. The retired Chief Justice of Nigeria told the Northern delegates that in line with the resolution of the Conference, the reports were prepared to cover constitutional issues based on amendments agreed upon by the delegates; policy issues meant for implementation by the President; and legislative issues earmarked for enactment into laws by the National Assembly. Kutigi had adjourned the Conference thereafter as he asked all groups and individuals should study the report, diligently write out areas that need to be corrected and submit them to the Conference Secretariat for compilation and presentation to the Conference when delegates reconvene on Thursday. He added that such comments would either be read out on the floor and would either be adopted or rejected by the Conference in plenary for final adoption of the report.

But barely had the Conference adjourned that Southern delegates also indicated their determination to see through the adoption of the alleged draft constitution. The Southern delegates who had the support of their counterparts from the Middle Belt argued that there was nothing in the report that was not adopted by the entire conference through consensus during plenary of the Conference in an interview with reporters. “When we were discussing, we passed several resolutions; some of them touched on the constitution, some were policy matters while others were for the legislature. What they (leadership) have done was to put together all the amendments to the 1999 Constitution and the additional ones they were not many, where there should be subtraction, they subtracted. The document has now been produced and there is nothing wrong coming up with a proposed draft constitution,” Edwin Clark who addressed journalists in company of other delegates from the South and Middle Belt said. “There were specific allegations that we had recommended a single tenure of six years for the President; that is not true. There were so many other lies they told that cannot be substantiated in our report. Why people should manufacture such lies and mislead Nigerians beats anyone’s imagination. All those allegations are not true,” the octogenarian who noted that various issues were discussed with over 600 resolutions arrived at by consensus during the four months the Conference lasted added.

“How can this draft constitution affect the 2015 elections?” Chief Mike Ozekhome, (SAN) another delegate from the South, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) who argued that northern delegates misinterpreted the meaning of the draft constitution included in the documents said. He added that the draft constitution is nothing but a synthesis of everything discussed at the Conference which has constitutional inputs. John Dara, Secretary General of the Middle Belt Forum disassociated the Middle Belt from the position of the Northern Delegates Forum. “We are in support of the outcome of this conference and impressed with the level of integrity and accuracy displayed by the secretariat. They were reflective of our views,” he noted.

Anticipating that what was meant to be the last session of the Conference may turn out an unnecessarily stormy one with the possibilities of breaking of one or two heads, Kutigi had at the close of the brief session on Wednesday summoned a meeting of leaders of delegation from the geo-political zones to discuss what the Conference Secretariat described as ‘certain critical issues.’ It was gathered that at the meeting with the delegates from the North, they had pointed out to him how the President and the Governors could use the document tagged “Draft Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2014,” to get tenure extension. According to reports, the delegates had told the Conference Chairman that based on the document, the presidency can stand on a court ruling in 2003 that said governors who had served during the aborted third republic were eligible to seek another term in 2003 elections since they were serving under a different constitution to seek for another term of office. They argued that the adoption of the a new constitution will enable incumbent elective office holders who are statued barred from going for third term to seek to extend their tenure using the excuse that they will be running under a new constitution. But Kutigi was said to have insisted that the Conference did not endorse any new constitution while he reached amicable agreement with the delegates on how to resolve the impasse.

Thus, when the Conference met for the last time last Thursday, it was clear that Kutigi’s peace moves have succeeded as the delegates unanimously agreed on a position on the controversial draft constitution. In the amendments to the third volume of the conference report or the so called draft constitution moved by Maina Waziri, delegates agreed to replace the draft constitution to read “Resolutions of the conference as draft amendments to 1999 constitution.” Waziri had in his motion recognized that that volume III of the Conference report titled Draft Constitution is an amalgamation of various resolutions and recommendations of a constitutional nature that were adopted by the Conference as proposed amendments to the appropriate sections of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as argued by Kutigi at the previous day session.

“Subject to the acceptance of the foregoing understanding, assurances and conditions and in accordance with the Procedure Rules, 2014 of the Conference, we move for the validation and adoption of the draft reports contained in volume 1, 2 and 3 without further debate. In the spirit of the consensus building cultivated by members and to maintain the bridges built during the currency of the Conference, we urge all delegates to subscribe to this plea,” Waziri said in the motion which was supported by all the delegates.

Chief Richard Akinjide, one of the oldest delegates formally move a motion for the adoption of the final Conference Report which was supported by the youngest delegate to the Conference, 24-year-old Yadoma Bukar Mandara. This was followed by a session of encomiums on the leadership of the Conference by delegates who described their handling of the conference proceedings as very mature. When we came here, nobody expected us to end this way. We have disappointed the skeptics,” Chief Mike Ahamba said.

But sources told this magazine last week that the Northern delegates are still considering their options on the draft constitution which they considered as inimical to the interest of the North. The Northern delegates, it was gathered are concerned that if recommendations like the removal of local government from the Constitution, creation of more states and adjustment of the derivation fund is implemented, the financial positions of their region will be in great jeopardy. Like most of their Southern counterparts, nearly all the states in the region relied on allocations from the federal purse. But the region has benefitted more because of its large number of local governments and states, all of which were created during the military rule.

This magazine gathered last week that Northern delegates still believe that whatever plot against it in the draft constitution can be frustrated from going through by lawmakers from the region at the National Assembly. The report of the Confab will be submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan on 21 August after which the President will decide on what to do with it. But if the President decides to submit the recommendations of the Conference to the National Assembly for promulgation into law, he will have to contend with Northern lawmakers.

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One Comment

  • vincentumenyiora says:

    The effect of Confab what it could mean or connote for Nigeria!

    Let it be said and we do so clearly; if what is recommended cannot be all adopted so as to accommodate the feelings and confidence (allay/ douse fears) of stakeholders in Nigeria, best will be to discuss ‘Confederation’ for the Polity – Nigeria because sections of it want to develop their people and children and those who do not want to develop should remain and should not pose obstruction/ encumbrance for those who want to progress – it is simple as this! You’re not our creator and therefore cannot determine our destiny! Dim Ojukwu and his advisers then suggested it in that ABURI ACCORD – 38 years ago in Ghana and you had the opportunity to do so but for that ‘QUANDARY’ position I talked about Nigerians are including your political leaders, you could not see far into the horizon!

    I don’t know how much time and expressive members devoted on issues bordering on SEPARATION of Powers, Consistency and or continuity of governance and in particular the need for that participatory DEMOCRACY through proportional representation vis-à-vis my contention about grand father effects as they impact on the Old Head quarters (H. Qs) of the Regions – the importance of which I talked about and I heard Dr. Y. Gowon harped about also during the procrastination about how to solve Nigeria’s political leadership and follower-ship! Another area of concern is the need to make (couch) sections of the Constitution as clear as possible – in black and white such that the ordinary (majority) Nigerian on the Streets in Nigeria can easily comprehend the meaning of the words and phrases used in the Book! In particular to make political party leaders know that whatever agreement they agree on or contemplate (because of the uncouth psyche of Nigerians) that provided in the Constitution as they relate to their thinking must prevail – they should not make agreements contrary to what the Constitution provides or by so doing we shall be circumventing the contents/ intentions of the Book like OBJ and group miscalculated in their so-called agreement with Dr. G. E. Jonathan! It is my reason for the New Presidential formula so as to remove all ambiguities in the interpretation as to who shall be or shall not be, as and when, we get to the zones in times of general elections on Nigeria!

    Then comes the issue of State boundary adjustment – I hold the opinion that State like Anambra needs to be extended up to Oji-River to ecompass Ugwu-Oba for the obvious reason that not only that there is not enough land around the Capital Awka for utilisation the portions left are encumbered by the effect of water-log and erosion problems! Driving from Ezeagu to Oji and beyond to the present boundary you wonder why the expanse of the land between should be left empty and yet it was part of the entire original State and present Anambra State yearning for land for expansion and for development! Behold whatever development in the zone is meant (envisaged) for the entire country if we are thinking rationally! Above all Anambra State people appear to be the most robust and dextrous group in Nigeria, as a matter of fact, so adjusting the boundry so as to improve the development and the movement of the people is acceptable/ worthwhile, folks!

    IMPORTANT is to note that all those aspiring to lead and become Presidents for Nigeria must be those properly educated and experienced to be able to understand and comprehend proposed policies first, on their own unaided hence my new formula for the six-geopolitical zones, if you can study it carefully! It is to serve the same purpose like the Option A-4 to solve the problems you have in Nigeria about political leadership! Those who lead you in the 35 years of Military interregnum (including the return of OBJ in 1999 of course) were not trained to perform as politicians hence you were at a standstill during their tenures, arguing and some of you detained to be killed but for God’s intervention in some of the cases!

    I will accept an official invitation to come to Nigeria and explain to the administration and the advisers what my ‘New formula’ for political leadership in Nigeria is about, like the Option A-4, it will help you more than what you’re doing currently talking about corruption also in the system! You’ve spent over 12Million Naira on each participants for the Confab and majority had nothing to show as right to the Conference by virtue of solutions-finding or offered for Nigeria including those who came from Europe – i. e. representatives from Europe and America comparable to what I, for example, have done for Nigeria single handed other than that they are Nigerians and nominated through that intimacy megalomania (IM) factor, which is part bane of the country! No other way to put (drive home) this information across to; ‘ALL THAT IT MAY CONCERN’ that those enjoying the accolades from Option A-4 in INEC are not privy to the evolution of the idea in 1992 December when it was sent to IBB first – see if you can find the correspondence marked – ADDENDUM dated 17th August 1990; 10th July 1991 Ref’d. 2263; 4th July 1991 and 1st December 1992 in both IBB’s file cabinet (desk) or the NEC’s Chairman’s! I rest my case, folks.

    The Confab has come to an end and has just submitted the recommendations after the disagreements/ misunderstanding about the meaning of the title ‘Draft Constitution! We hear that the next step – the follow up should be as the experience under the Military’s Ad-Hoc Committee passage of h Constituent Assemblies like that of Sani Abacha, which metamorphosed into the 1999 Constitution! We recall that under Abacha he called for a further Committee which advised him on his on Constituent Assembly’s recommendations and it was doctored to a point such that a good number of the good and healthy recommendations offered then were either truncated or dropped without due reflection hence the problems we have in the country from that period! I’ll suggest that as usually I am prone to, since it is very likely to call in Ad-Hoc to advise more/ further on the recommendations, that persons of Prof. H. Nwosu’s status and experience be included in the Team! Also I want to nominate myself as part of the DIASPORAN member in that I missed the Confab participation And I pray you this time. I ant o be considered as one of the Ad-Hoc Committee members or any other to deliberate on the Draft by virtue of my contributions so far for Nigeria’s political and economic growth – see http://www.virgo-enterprised.com

    They just announced the training of over 7, 000 Nigerians as operatives for the Energy-power sector; suffic it to say that I did make this suggestion much earlier to help in the advert – Nigerians to supply solutions for the problems we have – if you put up your search engine for this fact in your comment archives, you’ll surely see that this idea was submitted/ highlighted in one of my contributions.

    One of the aspect of very important of Nigeria politics devolves on your manifestos and corruption on this aspect I’ll want Prof. H. Nwosu to expound more on this area of Nigeria’s development irrespective of which party is coming next. To do well here, the civil service has to be put to the rightful position to realise that it is in existence in any economy to act as a protector/ defender for the public and not for the political parties – they are to act as protectors to the public and as a check on the whims and caprices of the politicians in particular when they start with their antics!

    Manifestos and Institutions they should be told are what this administration is offering or arranging for Nigerian like the Architect/ Engineer who sets out to design a Boulevard/Arcade for he people – ut us yoyr duty to as succeeding architect/ engineer ro keep adding or subtracting by modifications what the Arcade will look like in your own thinking, if you can find the right technocrats to help you – as Dr. G. Jonathan has rightly done in Nigeria, and not allow it to collapse the structures by making is dis-functional. Hence they talk about health, education, energy-power, transport, security etc, etc in Europe and America in their politics and campaigns and not ‘My manifestos’ as you hear it echoed in Nigeria often, imputing that the manifesto is a thing to be regarded as your ‘property’ and not for the people resulting (tending ir engendering) to that corruptive nature of Nigeria’s politics! Manifestos therefore, what the people need to help sustain them health-wise nd other growths legal that they may cintmplate and what your group or person want as leaders!

    Corruption, I suggested earlier that tenure of office is part reasons/ causes of corruption in Nigeria therefore I don’t know how detailed or extent the Confab considered the effects of tenure in office in Nigeria it must be part of the crucial issues/ aspects for the Ad-Hoc or the administration to consider and do something about the danger! They talked about the Sec. 308 and probably the Council of State but then the membership is part contributory to the problems we have in Nigeria in that you cannot prosecute any member as you would ordinarily under the Laws of the Land! I want to say here, as usual, that I have a solution – a solution indeed like my Option A-4, you’re using now, to help greatly in Nigeria if we are willing to get at the root of the problem here if you want me to discuss the imports!

    Your budgetary procedures: I suggested need for ‘Due process’ for Nigeria but behold when you decided to have it, Vincent, was not called to participate just like the Option A-4 INEC, the Chairman and Commissioners of all basking in the accolade and the perquisites! I am making a publication to show the origin – how it all came to be since nobody on Nigeria authority has the innate character/ mind to ask – is it true that the ‘Option’ is really his intellectual material even when a copy was handed to my State Governor and he used it for his own re-election exercise and again for the New Executive Governor for the State – everybody saw the exercises how peaceful they were? So goes with the degree/ extent of the dereliction in Nigeria – in a QUANDARY afflicting even the PhD holders if they can claim rights belonging to a common man in Nigeria, folks!

    Regarding your budgets here civil servants cannot afford to pay rents regularly – as and when the demand is up, not to talk about paying their mortgages, must be of a grave concern for the governments in Nigeria! In the midst of plenty your civil servants are not paid regularly and therefore they cannot in turn pay their rents in time – in ‘whirlwind’ situation, as it were, folks!

    The point to note in this particular exercise in this Confab is that we cannot afford to be doing/ going for such meetings without result indefinitely in my native parlance we say; Agbaa n’ke mbu orda na ogwe; agbaa n’ke abor oda na ogwe; agbaa nke ator ada na ogwe – orbu ogwe ka apilu uta? Meaning: In the first attempt aimed to get at a target the arrow struck a tree-trunk; in the 2nd attempt it went to the same trunk; on the 3rd attempt, again missed and it struck at the same trunk – and so arose the curiosity – Is the trunk the original target desired? So this Confab represents the third attempt to get at the basic (root) problems in Nigeria’s political set up therefore should not be allowed to go the same way as the previous did under IBB and Sani Abacha under the Military for obvious reason that we are now in 21st Century and every Nation is poised to see their citizenry developed! For Nigeria there should be no time wasted or dithering and the authorities must now sit up to see what can be best derived from the recommendations for the people of the polity – Nigeria ! Where this is not possible the alternative must b to consider the suggestion for a ‘Confederated Nigeria’ so that each Region/Entity can set out to develop at the pace they consider adequate for their peoples! We cannot afford to now continue to dither (resting on their oars) whilst the resources meant for development of the people are pillaged and or wasted by the few ‘protagonists in Nigeria, who for obvious innate reasons – vendetta and hatred, do not want progress of the people!

    There has been too much hew and cry about percentage derivation for resource allocation; I am saying why not the North decide to open up the natural resources in the North and then claim/ ask for 35%! We hear that they are perturbed by the land disruption if the resources have to be exhumed and you wonder what about what is happening in Ogoni and the Delta Axis about ecological problems in the zone and attempt to stop such destruction lead to the execution of their prominent leaders! The more heinous being that the majority of the Oil Blocks are controlled by the Northerners – nobody is saying anything about the canny machination or arrangement under the Military about this obvious fact and on top of which they take subsidies from the governments – policy considered disingenuous and diabolical indeed to Nigerian people!

    I must stop here but wish you looked into the points raised here in consonance with my over all contributions and the names that have copies of them some of whom could have posed formidable oppositions to the administration but seeing that an ordinary person/ Nigerian has my kind of thinking and has handed such for the public have decline to lunch attacks against the government! .To understand me more all you need is a look a my web-site and you can see what I mean – al that not looked at and w claim we are leaders – yes, of course Nigerian political leaders and problems abound everywhere – daily occurrence, folks!

    I happened to be at the meeting for the ‘Democratic setting for Nigeria 2015 convened by BEN TV Management and I listened to the addresses rendered at the time I arrives at the venue, by the Minister of Education, the High Commissioner and the responses to questions from Mike Omeri – the National Orientation Manager for Nigeria! The Minister referred to the effects of the civil war vis-à-vis the advent of armed robbery in the South-East grew/ developed – he did not stress the fact that after civil war Nigeria needed in fact, was to have a reconstruction programme for the region affected and who were in control of the administration then; how the same analogy could be drawn from what boko-haram is doing in the country today again as a result of the neglect by governments and who were the governments? What lessons did we learn from that neglect vis-à-vis the Niger Delta situation and those responsible for the policies not to act to avert the ‘horrible’ situations in those days are all in that Council of State still muddling with your politics! Then the High Commissioner talked about envy and hatred in Nigeria about politicking, how adverse the effects are; from Mr. Omeri, we learnt about how they would, from end of the year get everybody who wants to participate in Nigerian politics to first go (be screened) through a ‘New National Orientation programme’ devised for Nigeria! All the responses have co-relation with my prognosis in my books – my publications bear all these, which I said already (my intention is) that those close to the governments we have in Nigeria on the grounds of – whilst I may not be in government those who have copies of the (my) publication whilst interacting with their friends in the corridors of power like I noticed in Governor Peter Obi with my Option A-4, will pass-on my thinking unwittingly/ intuitively in the hope to impress and carve themselves a ‘niche’ to such officials!

    So it goes without saying it that my contributions in the books have a spill over (multiplier) effects in Nigeria! Somebody who is very familiar with the contents by way of the imports say to me that my publications are regard as repository for Nigeria, where they can poach something tangible to boost their ego in the administration! The ‘New National Orientation’ idea for Nigeria in particular, you can find it all over my publications repeated in other to draw their attention to what the causes of the problems are! Talking about hatred; why should I not be co-opted in Governor Peter Obi’s administration in n Anambra State and granted they were (stll) looking for those to help in finding solutions for Nigeria, if not the Federal if he has indeed copy of my publication, where Option A-4 and formula is contained and he obviously discussed it with the President along the National Executive Council Meetings – EXCO or privately, leading to the acceptance of it for not only 2011 but for all elections in Nigeria until something more than reliable and transparent is discovered for the purpose, folks!

    I mean Mr. Fani Kayode, Chuef Asewaju Tinubu , Lai Mohammed and Dr. Junaid Muhammed have all criticised and abused the administration without reservations yet they have each been to ‘Aso Rock’ to discuss issues with the Head of State so, what are we on about in Nigeria? Those struggling to help and doing so genuinely are not seen but those who abuse the authorities and people are given audience – is it fair, folks?

    Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people!
    Prov. 14. 34; Pa 132. 9

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