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National Conference defers release of committees’ list

Chairman of the conference, Justice Idris Kutigi

The National Conference has deferred the release of the list of committees and their memberships indefinitely.

The secretariat, in its draft work plan, had proposed to release the list of the committees and their memberships on Thursday but inquiry by our correspondent revealed that the list was not ready.

The PUNCH learnt that division of delegates over what should constitute the majority had to be resolved before the ‘knotty’ issue could be attended to.

The Chairman of the National Conference,  Justice Idris Kutigi (retd.), had on Wednesday adjourned the plenary till Monday for him to consult with the selected 50 leaders from different geo-political zones to resolve what should constitute a majority in taking decisions.

The Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications, Mr. James Akpandem, confirmed to our correspondent that the list was not ready.

He said, “We have to present the list at the plenary. Once the delegates approve it, that is when we will release the list. We cannot release it now because it has not been approved by the delegates.

“First of all, we have to present the committees. We will then call the delegates to submit their names against which committees they want to belong. They have three options. We cannot release the list of committees now because what we have is just proposed committees. That proposal has to be ratified.

“Why we said they should choose three is because if there are many people in one committee, we can redistribute them. In redistributing, we will consider the first, second and third choice. We don’t want a situation where they will say it is the secretariat that forced them. When they indicate, we will use that as basis.”

The secretariat had on Monday proposed to announce the membership of the committees on Thursday. But failure to agree on what constitutes the majority between three-quarter and two-third had dominated conference proceedings.

While delegates from the core North asked for the retention of three-quarter as proposed in the rules, delegates from the South wanted two-third majority.

The proposed committees are Devolution of Powers; National Security; Environment; Politics and Governance; Social Welfare; Transportation; Science, Technology and Development; Agriculture; Civil Society, Labour and Sports; Political Restructuring and Forms of Government.

Others are Committees on Electoral Matters; Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters; Land Tenure Matters and National Boundary; Trade and Investment; Energy; Religion; Public Finance and Revenue Generation; Immigration, Public Service; Law, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Reform.

Meanwhile, a delegate and the President of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, Chief Richard Uche, has appealed to the delegates to work towards consensus on weighty issues and bury their differences.

Where this is impossible, he said, different majority formulars should be worked out for different issues.

He said, “The best thing in this type of situation is to achieve consensus. It should be by conviction of argument. Consensus is the best thing because when you start voting it builds division. That is what we must avoid in this conference. Let us carry everybody along. Where this becomes impossible, three-quarter may seem too high but it is necessary in weighty issues.

“My suggestion is that we apply different percentages for different solutions. If you are talking about fundamental issues, you raise the stake. But if you are talking about simple issues, there is no need to vote; we should go by consensus.”

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