Barring last minute change of mind, a group of delegates from a particular section of the country have perfected plans to discredit the deputy chairman of the ongoing National Conference, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, for what they perceived as his "overbearing influence" and his almost flawless handling of the proceedings of the conference, LEADERSHIP can authoritatively reveal.
Accusations and counter-accusations at plenary on Monday arose from the front page publications of an Abuja-based newspaper last Sunday and Monday alleging hidden agenda by the confab leadership particularly the deputy chairman, who is alleged to be at the forefront of consultation with Northern delegates with a view to convincing them to accept a purported "new constitution".
An investigation by LEADERSHIP afterwards showed that the National Conference has no such term of reference as writing a new constitution and at no time was its leadership involved in any subterranean move to cajole anybody or group of persons into accepting a "new constitution" outside the purview of the conference's business in the name of doing President Goodluck Jonathan's bidding.
The document referred to as the proposed "new Constitution" was discovered to be a working document by a group of delegates from across the six geo-political zones of the country which was meant to help them in negotiation and trade-off so as to avoid undue contention during plenary. One of the members of the group told LEADERSHIP that leaders of all the geopolitical zones at the conference are part of the arrangement and was surprised at the turn of events.
A source in the confab secretariat told our reporter that they are aware of plots to scuttle the conference, especially given the success it has attained so far; and particularly because the turn it has taken is outside the expectations of some of the delegates.
"Those newspaper reports you are referring to are a bunch of cheap blackmail and you need to ask yourself whether it makes any grain of sense that the deputy chairman would be involved in any underhand dealing on behalf of the chairman against the North's interests.
"The sponsors of those reports are using their connections and resources to tarnish the image of the conference by mischievously blackmailing the deputy chairman. The deputy chairman has been a stabilising factor in the conference through the routine consultations he has been holding with delegates across board at very critical stages in the life of the conference. Unfortunately those who have some agenda are now turning such good intentions into instruments of blackmail using the media, but the truth is obvious", the source said.
The source said that it would even amount to insulting the integrity of delegates to the conference to insinuate that someone is lobbying them with huge sums of money to agree to something that is obviously not under the contemplation of the conference.
Attempts to speak with Professor Akinyemi after yesterday's sitting were unsuccessful as he was said to be attending to visitors. But one of his aides, who also craved for anonymity, confided in LEADERSHIP that the professor of political science might not speak to the press on the matter.
"Gentlemen, Prof may not be in the mood to speak to you now because, in spite of knowing what the truth is, you allow yourselves to be used or deliberately write unfounded things to tarnish peoples image", he said.