9 December 2013

Nigeria: Confab - Jonathan to Nominate 120 Delegates

Lagos — President Goodluck Jonathan is to nominate 120 members to the proposed national conference scheduled to take off early next year, the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue has recommended.

The Senator Femi Okurounmu led-committee, according to the recommendations proposed to the President, wants the national conference to run for six months well ahead of the commencement of campaigns for the next general elections.

The Okurounmu committee according to findings has also recommended that President Jonathan forwards an executive bill to the National Assembly for constitutional amendment to allow the incorporation of referendum in the constitution.

The constitutional amendment sought by the Committee through the bill, it was learnt at the weekend, is to enable issues and outcomes of the proposed National Dialogue be subject of a referendum.

Subjecting the dialogue outcomes to a referendum, the source added, is to avoid ongoing issues about allowing the National Assembly to approve the recommendations of the national conference.

President to nominate 120 members

An authoritative source close to the committee also told Vanguard that one of its recommendations is that the President will nominate 120 delegates to the conference, whose membership is recommended to be between 500 and 700.

Vanguard also learnt that the conference should take off early next year, with the President's nominees joining the other delegates to the conference who would be elected based on senatorial or federal constituencies.

If senatorial districts are used, there may not be more than 300 elected delegates as the committee had already recommended nomination of 120 by the President. Conversely, if federal constituencies are used, there will be 580 delegates to be elected.

The proposal for the national conference to take off early next year, according to the source, will help stave off tensions ahead of the campaigns for the next round of general elections.

The conference according to the committee report already prepared for submission to the President is to take place for six months during which Nigerians would discuss all issues bordering on the nation's life.

The report of the Senator Femi Okurounmu-led committee which has concluded its deliberations had been slated for submission on Wednesday. The date was slated well ahead of President Goodluck Jonathan's trip to South Africa for the burial ceremonies of late anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela. However, with the President out of the country it was unclear last night whether the committee would seek another date for submission of the report or present the report to the vice-president or any other senior official of the Federal Government.

The committee in its recommendations, Vanguard learnt, took the stand that all its submissions were simply suggestions which were meant for the president's consideration.

The panel would have turned in its report detailing modalities for organizing the proposed national conference on November 19, but was granted two weeks extension by the presidency to wrap up its work.

However, the committee over-shot the 14 days extension by nine days.

The committee concluded its zonal tours across 13 cities in the six geo-political zones, three weeks ago with a visit to the FederalCapitalTerritory, Abuja.

President Jonathan raised the Senator Femi Okurounmu-led committee on October 1 and inaugurated it on October 7 with a six-week time frame to establish the modalities for a national dialogue or conference. The Committee was also assigned the duty of designing a framework and come up with recommendations as to the form, structure and mechanism of the process.

The cities visited by the committee were Akure, Jos, Minna, Calabar, Benin, Enugu, Umuahia, Lagos, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Lagos, Bauchi, Kaduna and Abuja.

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