March 26, 2014
Today’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.
Immediately after the first debate, 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.
It would be recalled that through a motion on Tuesday, the Conference Chairman was mandated 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.
Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications
National Conference 2014