National conference holds March to May, Jonathan to pick 114 out of 492 delegates

By The Rainbow
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The Federal Government on Thursday unveiled the modalities for the proposed National Conference, with an indication that the president would nominate 114 out of the 492 delegates that would participate in the conference.

The dialogue is billed to commence in March.
Jonathan in October, 2013 inaugurated the National Conference Advisory committee  to fashion out the modalities for the conference.

The committee headed by Senator Femi Okunronmu submitted its report last month in Abuja.

According to modalities, nomination of the delegates would commence January 30  and end on February 20, while the inauguration of the main conference will follow soon after the delegate list is received and collated by the government.

According to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim,  who unveiled the modalities, the list of nominees shall be submitted online to or in hard copy to the Office of the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties Office) in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in Abuja.

Anyim, together with the Chairman and Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue, Senator Femi Okunronmu and Dr. Akilu Indabawa respectively, said the President would nominate 37 elder statesmen, one from each of the 36 states and the FCT.

Jonathan will also nominate six youths (outstanding youths and role models) representing the six geopolitical zones. From the Judiciary, the President will nominate six eminent jurists, who are not currently serving on the Bench even as he is expected to also appoint the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and the Secretary of the conference.

The President will also nominate 37 elder statesmen to represent 36 states and one for the FCT, Abuja.

Anyim, however, said that state governments were expected to nominate three delegates, one from each senatorial zone.

He said the Federal Government had not been officially communicated by the APC on its decision to boycott the conference.

According to him, where 'the state governor fails to nominate, the President shall nominate the required number from the state.'

With the APC controlling 16 states out of 36, and with their planned boycott of the conference, Jonathan could nominate 48 delegates from the APC states. Also, political parties that have representation in the National Assembly, namely, PDP, APC, APGA, Accord and Labour Party are to nominate two delegates each.

According to Anyim, the Federal Government of Nigeria will nominate 20 delegates, six of which will be women.

This will bring the President's delegates to 114.. Other groups that will have the opportunity to nominate delegates include religious and professional bodies, women groups, socio-political or ethnic nationality groups, national academies, former political office holders, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, traditional rulers, retired military and security personnel.

Others are retired civil servants, Labour representatives, organised private sector, civil society organisations, Nigerians in Diaspora, People Living With Disabilities, Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, Nigeria Guild of Editors, Nigeria Union of Journalists and Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria.

According to the SGF, the Okunronmu-led advisory committee has met its target and even exceeded all expectations.

He said the Federal Government was satisfied with the work of the committee, saying the government gave the most expeditious consideration to its report.

He added that the official name of the conference shall be, 'The National Conference'and it shall hold in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The conference will also last for three months and shall discuss any subject matter, 'except the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation,'adding that the unity of Nigeria is therefore non-negotiable.

Also, a Conference Management Secretariat shall be established to manage, administer and run the affairs of the conference, while decisions taken at the National Conference shall be by consensus.

'But where it is not achievable, it shall be by 75 per cent majority,' Anyim said. While he stated that the conference would be funded from this year's budget, Anyim said it was also expected to advise the Government on the legal framework, legal procedures and options for integrating the decisions and outcomes of the national conference into the Constitution and laws of the country. According to him, the National Conference shall have a chairperson and a deputy chairperson of unimpeachable integrity.