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National Conference of 492 Delegates to Gulp N7 Billion

Source: pointblanknews.com

Efforts by the Federal Government to bring its citizens together and

discuss the fundamental terms of their coexistence will cost a whooping N7

Billion
Indeed, the Federal Government yesterday released the modalities of the

three months national conference where such conditions would be mutually

negotiated.
A total of 492 delegates are to be nominated for the national conference.

Out of this, President Goodluck Jonathan is likely to choose 181.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Anyim Pius

Anyim, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja during a media briefing.

According to him, out of the 27 clusters of stakeholders outlined in the

proposed composition of the conference, the President has power over six

categories including the nomination of the chairperson, deputy

chairperson and the secretary.
The SGF said that the government had to implement the report of the

advisory committee immediately because of “the calls by Nigerians from

all walks of life for us to proceed with the report of the committee

with uttermost urgency, so that the nation can be through with the

dialogue well ahead of the approaching political season.”

He said that before taking the decision to accept the recommendations

for immediate implementation, the government held extensive

deliberations.
Such discussions came before even deciding that the “official name for

the conversation shall be the national conference”, shall hold in the

Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, “shall tentatively last for

three months and shall discuss any subject matter, except the

indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation, therefore the

unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable.”
Others are that a secretariat would manage and run the affairs of the

conference and that “decisions at the conference shall be by consensus,

but where it is not achievable, it shall be by 75 per cent majority. The

national conference shall 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.”
Anyim said that that the nomination of delegates would start on January

30, 2014 and end on February 20, 2014 and the inauguration of the

conference would follow soon after the delegates list is concluded.

He stated that the government sought guidance and explanations where

necessary from the advisory committee in the quest to expeditiously

consider the proposal.
The categorisation indicates that three persons would come from each of

the 36 states and one from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), based on

senatorial districts, “at least one of whom shall be a woman”, making

the second tier of government the highest contributor of representatives

with a total of 109 delegates to be nominated by the states governors.

But “where the state governor fails to nominate, the president shall

nominate the required number from the state.”
Next to the states are the socio-political/cultural and ethnic

nationality groups, where 15 persons would be selected for each

geopolitical zone. These “should reflect ethnic and religious

diversities”, and the 90 delegates would be nominated by 'stakeholders.'

The president would nominate 37 elder statesmen, one from each of the 36

states and FCT, while 24 delegates shall represent the civil society

organisations across the country, who would be nominated by stakeholders

within the sector across the country.
The Federal Government would as well nominate 20 others, at least six

shall be women, six persons not currently serving the bench from the

judiciary arm of government, in addition to six “outstanding youths and

role models”, one each from the six geo-political zones.

Other categories include 13 delegates from the professional bodies,

eight from Nigerians in the diaspora, two each from political parties

that have representation at the National Assembly that include the

People's Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC), All

Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Accord Party and Labour Party.

Also included are two representatives each from the Newspaper

Proprietors Association of Nigeria, the Nigerian Guild of Editors, the

Broadcast Organisation of Nigeria, the Nigerian Union of Journalists,

the organised private sector, all to be nominated by stakeholders in

the various groups.
Women group is also given 24 slots. These are 12 for the National

Council for Women Society for their pivotal role in women development

and six for the Market Women Association. The other six are to be

shared by the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), the

Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) and the Women in

Management and Business (WINBIZ).
Other interest groups to be represented at the conference include

traditional rulers, two each from the geopolitical zones plus one from

Abuja, bringing the number to 13 delegates from the interest group. A

total of 18 from retired military and security personnel, that is six

each from the military, police and the state security and the National

Intelligence Agency (NIA), would all be nominated by stakeholders.

With a representation of 24 delegates expected to reflect gender and

geopolitical balance, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union

Congress are expected to send 12 nominees each. The National

Association of Nigerian Students and the National Youth Council of

Nigeria would send six delegates each to represent the geopolitical

zones.
Others include Christian and Muslim leaders, people living with

disabilities, former governors, senators' forum, House of

Representatives Forum, Association of Former Speakers and Former Local

Council Chairmen. Each of the clusters would send six delegates, one

each from the geopolitical zones as nominated by the stakeholders.

The composition also reflects that the national academies have five

slots, one each for the Academies of Science, Engineering, Education,

Letters and Social Sciences.
Anyim said that at the end, the national conference shall advise the

government on the legal framework, legal procedure and options for

integrating their decisions and outcome in the constitution or any law

of the country. The idea is that the conference would advise government

on the next step after the conference.
According to him, even though the situation of the president coming to

nominate for a governor is a probability, “why we made that provision is

such that the president will be at liberty to be in touch with the

governor, where any governor has a little difficulty the president will

assist the governor to resolve the difficulty, but we don't think that

the situation will arise, but we simply provided such that every person

should know that if you had any difficulty you can seek the help of the

president particularly the governor.”
According to Anyim, the nomination power of the Federal Government is

to make appropriate corrections in representation where the need arises.

“The Federal Government would exercise their own rights of nominations

after all other nominations have been collated, so that if there is any

imbalance, then the government can by their nomination try to balance

that power, so there won't be a problem of one dominant ethnic

nationality taking advantage of the minority within the state.”


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