24 March 2014

Nigeria: Delegates Reconvene Today, Begin Discussion On Jonathan's Agenda

Four Hundred and Ninety One delegates will today reconvene to discuss, among others, the issues outlined for them by President Goodluck Jonathan in his inaugural speech last Monday when the National Conference was inaugurated.

The agenda for discussion, according to Jonathan, are form of government, structures of government, devolution of powers, revenue sharing formula, resource control, creation of state police, fiscal federalism, indigeneship, gender equality and children's rights, amongst others. The president said delegates should focus on the above issues and not ethnicity and religious bigotry.

But less than 24-hours after the inauguration, delegates converged for the maiden sitting of the conference last Tuesday where religious issue came to the fore. Immediately after the confab leadership had announced that arrangement had been made for Muslim delegates to observe their prayers, Barrister Mike Ozekhome (SAN) raised the issue of according same treatment for Christian delegates as well.

Conference secretary, Valerie Azinge, also disclosed that the delegates will, in the fist two weeks of deliberations, discussion Jonathan's speech.

While some observers saw last Tuesday's conduct of members as signs of things come in the 3-month duration of the conference, delegates said it was the manifestation of democracy where people speak their minds.

Only last Thursday the confab secretariat announced that it had registered only three-quarter of the delegates, promising that others would be attended to as they arrive.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) had on, Thursday last week, officially rejected its participation in the conference having rejected the one slot allotted to it about 3 weeks ago. Also, the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has not forwarded the names of its representatives, saying the confab is a waste of time while the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is battling with a court case over who should represent the party .

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