The fourth day of plenary at the on-going National Conference ended in a deadlock as delegates again failed to agree on the voting procedure to be adopted.
This resulted in the formation of a 50-member Consensus Group to resolve the lingering crisis over whether the Conference should adopt a consensus, three quarter or two-third majority, in taking decisions.
Signs of trouble emerged earlier in the day as delegates arrived and formed clusters to discuss the controversial voting formula.
However, when the Chairman, Idris Kutigi, finally declared the sitting opened at about 10.30 a.m., the chamber was already charged and delegates were ready for a showdown.
Traditional ruler threatens disintegration
A warning by the Lamido of Adamawa, Aliyu Mustapha, that some 'so-called elders' who claim to be supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan were about to derail the Conference, ignited trouble.
Obviously angry, Mr. Mustapha explained that he had been trying to speak on the floor of the Conference in the past three days but was not recognised by the leadership.
He used the opportunity to advise delegates to jettison what he described as a "so-called Western Conference" because such would not do Nigeria any good.
Mr. Mustapha said he was surprised at the behaviour of some delegates who were trying to overstep the bounds set by President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said, "Some so-called elders who claim to be supporters of the President are causing problems at this Conference."
This was followed by deafening shouts of "No, no, no, no," from the delegates who refused to back down even when Mr. Kutigi pleaded that the royal father be allowed to speak.
The traditional ruler, who stood his grounds and continued speaking amidst the uproar, warned that the opposing delegates risk Nigeria's disintegration because of their unruly behaviour.
He said that delegates from the other parts of the country should desist from what he describes as pushing the North to the wall to avoid unpleasant backlash.
The soft-spoken monarch further argued that Adamawa Kingdom transcended Nigeria and Cameroon, adding that his subjects have somewhere to go if the country disintegrated
"There is a state in Cameroon called Adamawa and if I run to that place, I can easily be assimilated. If you push us to wall, we can easily walk out of this country. Jingoism is not the preserve of anyone," he said.
When it was obvious that the Conference would be disrupted, the Chairman handed a list to Vice Chairman, Bolaji Akinyemi, to read out to the house.
After reading the names of members of the Consensus Group, Mr. Kutigi ruled that the Conference be adjourned till 4 p.m. to enable them meet and discuss on the controversial voting procedure.
At exactly 4.13 p.m. when the Conference reconvened, Mr. Kutigi again announced that the Consensus Group met during the lunch break but could not resolve the issues at stake.
He said, "I have a little explanation to make. The group we formed in the morning has been meeting at a hall in the Administrative Block. That meeting continued until we adjourned for lunch.
"We went along to solve our problem. We have to go back and finish our meeting. When we finish, some of your representatives will come back to brief you.
"We want to make a comprehensive report of our meeting. We don't want a repeat of what happened yesterday (Tuesday). The people we called are not permanent. We will call on others to come and join us and by the grace of God we will succeed. This meeting stands adjourned till
Monday. Let's go back and finish our meeting."
Debates at the Conference had become rancorous from Monday, when delegates from different parts of the country took divergent positions on the torchy matters.
The situation almost went out of hand on Tuesday when some delegates stalled the adoption of the amended Rules of Procedure of the Conference on grounds that there was no basis to take such a decision.
During the ensuing disagreement, a delegate who wanted to speak without approval from the Chairman had attempted to assault a staff of the Conference secretariat for not obliging him the microphone.
Perhaps angered by the action of his colleague, a former Information Minister, Frank Nweke, sprung to his feet and stood between the charging delegate and the Conference staff.
It took the intervention of other delegates to stop Mr. Nweke from physically assaulting the offending delegate.
Unable to control the situation, Mr. Kutigi dropped the gavel to adjourn the sitting and urge leaders of delegation to go back and consult with each other to resolve the issue.
The Conference continues on Monday.