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BreakingNews 17/4/2014 - Nigeria Confab News Summary

BreakingNews 17/4/2014 - Nigeria Confab News Summary

  [ Masterweb Reports: Akpandem James reports ] – 1. National Conference Ends Plenary Session on Thursday: Chairman of the 2014 National Conference and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, retired Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, GCON, on Wednesday informed Conference delegates that committee work will begin on Tuesday after Easter break.

The announcement followed submission of list of committee members and the leadership of each of the 20 committees to the Conference in plenary amidst complaints and applause from a cross-section of the delegates.

The chairman informed delegates that 10 of the 20 committees will hold their sessions at the National Judicial Institute while the remaining 10 will sit at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers.

It was agreed through a voice vote that delegates with genuine complaints on the composition of the committees, both the membership and the chairmen, co-chairmen and deputy chairmen should sort out the details with the Conference secretariat.
He however stated that while such genuine complaints were being sorted out, normal committee sittings would commence as scheduled and that deliberations and decisions of committees would not be affected by the process.

At the commencement of sitting on Wednesday, Justice Kutigi informed delegates that some of them might find their names in committees they did not indicate interest and that they should face the challenge of serving in such committees in the interest of the nation.

Most of the members indicated interest in four out of the twenty committees, a situation that led to redistribution into other committees since all the committees must have members. More than 45% of the members indicated interest in the committees on Devolution of Power, Political Restructuring, Politics and Governance, Party and Election Matters and National Security. In spite of the hue about Religion, not up to 18 delegates indicated interest in the committee

As expected, delegates raised objections on various issues ranging from the constitution of the committee membership, why they were not consulted before the changes were made and why certain people headed committees and other did not.
Dr Iyorcha Ayu said committees should not be constituted based on expertise; since, according to him, even non-professionals in specific fields who have practical experience can make useful contributions.

Princess Rabiu Ibrahim drew attention to her observation that appointment of women to headship of committees did not represent the required 35% applied by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Former Chairman of Punch newspapers, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola said arguments over committees will continue non-stop and advised that it was time to work now that the list has been compiled and released.
Charles Edomsomwan from Edo State informed the delegates that it would be impossible to satisfy everybody and that even if the list was compiled a hundred times, there will still be complaints.

He stated, “We must not present ourselves to Nigerians as if we are here for a picnic,” and that whoever would have wished to be in a particular committee but was not appointed to serve there, should submit a memo to that committee.

Femi Falana, SAN, through a Point of Order said it was the duty of the Secretariat to appoint committees, membership and leadership and that whoever had a genuine complain should submit them to the secretariat while work should start immediately.
The Committee on Devolution of Power whose responsibilities comprises fiscal federalism; revenue sharing; resource control; sharing formula and any other related matters has both former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah and former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Coomasie as co-chairmen.

Headed by Mohammed Kumalia and Gen Ike Nwachukwu as co-chairmen; part of the functions of the Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government are Federalism; Regionalism; State Creation; Geo-political zones; Forms and Content of Government; Presidential; Parliamentary; Legislature; Bicameral; Unicameral Legislature (Part-time/Full-time) and Local Government Administration.

The Committee on National Security is headed by Mohammed Jimeta, former Inspector General of Police and has former Chief of National Intelligence, Chief Albert. K. Horsefall as deputy.

The committee is saddled with issues regarding the Armed Forces; Civilian oversight of the security sector; Review of the Armed Forces Act; the Police; Reform of the Customs Service; Road Safety Corps; Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism; Armed Robbery; Kidnapping; Small Arms Proliferation Communal Violence; Election Violence; Illegal oil theft and smuggling; Sea piracy; Organised/Trans-National Crime; Money Laundering; Human Trafficking; Drug Trafficking; Terrorism Financing; Cyber Crime; and any other related matters.

The Committee on Environment Meteorology and Climate Change is headed by Senator Florence Ita-Giwa with Y. Bukar Mandara as deputy chairman. Its functions cover Illegal Mining Activities; Pollution; Gas flaring; Protection of Biodiversity; Afforestation and Reforestation; Flooding/Gully Erosion; Environmental Degradation; Oil Spillage and Desertification; Drought; Waste management/Disposal; Hazardous/Toxic Waste; Bush burning; Natural Disaster Committee on Politics and Governance has Professor Jerry Gana and Chief Olu Falae as co-chairmen. Its scope of work covers Immunity clause; Good governance and democratization; Deepening democracy, democratic culture and orientation; Mechanisms for a more inclusive participatory democracy; National Ethics; Minority rights/ ethnic nationalities Corruption; Anti-Corruption Agencies; Corruption and national development Constitutional Amendment; Freedom of Information; Role of traditional rulers.
Retired Justice G. A. Oguntade is the chairman of the Committee on Law, Judiciary, Human Rights, Legal Reform, Law and Order. The deputy chairman is Professor Auwalu Yadudu.

Its work covers the Judiciary; Review of judicial institutions; Increase in the number of Supreme Court Justices; Increase in the number of divisions of the Court of Appeal; Technology in administration of Justice; Professional development of Judicial Officers; Sharia and customary legal systems; Delays in administration of justice; Independence of the judiciary;  and Funding of the Judiciary.

Others are Appointment of Judicial Officers; Access to justice; Alternative Justice – ADR, Mediation, Conciliation e.t.c.; Specialized Courts/ tribunals; Condition of service of judicial officers; Prison reforms; Rehabilitation; Reformation; Reintegration Sentencing and death penalty; Justiciability of the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy; Chapter 2 of the Constitution Jurisdiction of Industrial CourtIyom Josephine Anenih is the chairman of the Committee on Social Sector which also has Professor Ruqaiyatu Rufa’I as deputy chairman. Its work covers Health; Universal Health Care Coverage; Primary Healthcare; Investment in health; Emphasis on Preventive Health; Education, Restructuring of the curriculum; Investment in education; and National education policy.

Others are Return of missionary and private schools to original owners; Nomadic education; Institutionalizing Almajiri education system; Housing; Affordable Housing; Social Security; Rights of senior citizens; Unemployed Nigerians; Pensions and Gratuity; Insurance; Poverty and wealth creation; Gender; Status of married women; State of origin; State of marriage; Affirmative Action; Political Participation; Discrimination; Child’s Rights Law; Child’s Right Law Implementation Bodies; Disability Rights/ Welfare; The Committee on Transportation is headed by Senator Musa Adede while Ralph Osanaiye is the deputy chairman. Its responsibilities cover: Roads; Railway; Aviation; Maritime; National Inland Water Ways; Shipping and shipment.

The Committee on Science, Technology and Development has Dr Daniel Maddo as chairman, with High Chief Raymond Dokpesi as deputy. It will focus on Information, Communication and Technology; Media/Social network; Science and technology education; Investment in research and development; Promotion and improvement of indigenous technological innovations; Space and nuclear regime; Capacity building and training for scientists; Medical technology; Biodiversity; and Fabrication of buildings e.t.c.

The Committee on Agriculture has Umaru Muhammed Hadeija as chairman while Mrs. Ifeoma Idigbe is the deputy chairman. Its functions cover: Food Security; Food storage, processing and packaging industries; Grazing Reverses/Ranching and Industrial Cattle feeds; Water Resources; National agricultural policy; Agricultural subsidy; Mechanized agriculture; Land acquisition, traditional institutions and agriculture; Irrigation; Bio-technology and Agricultural Production; Poultry and Fishery; and Animal Husbandry.

Civil Society, Labour and Sports Committee is headed by Mrs Bola Ogunrinade with Issa Aremu as deputy. It covers such areas as Empowerment and regulation of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Capacity building for CSOs; Youth empowerment; Unemployment; Minimum wage; Trade Unionism and Industrial Action; National Youth Service Corps Investments in sports; and Legal regime on sports.

The Committee on Public Service covering Federal Character; Civil Service Structure; Remuneration of public officers and civil servants; State of the civil service; and Salary Structure is headed by Engineer Ebele Okeke with Ambassador Adamu Aliyu as deputy chairman.

Political Parties and Electoral Matters Committee has Dr Iyorcha Ayu as Chairman and Senator Ken Nnamani as deputy. Its work scope includes: Political parties and Electoral process; Method of elections; Party supremacy and internal democracy; Independent candidature; Regulation of campaign; Campaign financing and expenditure ceiling; State monitoring bodies and Local Government Elections; Electoral offences; Independence and autonomy of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Delineation of constituencies; Conduct of free and fair elections; The role of security agencies in elections; Diaspora voting; Political Recruitment and internal democracy in political parties.

Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters Committee has Professor Ibrahim Gambari as chairman and Professor Lawrence Ekpebu as deputy. Its work outline includes: Prisoner Exchange; Extradition; Promotion of culture and tourism, investment in tourism; Cultural exchange; Nigeria and international peacekeeping operations; Review of Technical Aid Corps programme;  Promotion of peace, human rights, justice and racial equality within the international system; and Nigeria-centric foreign policy.

Others are: Security and well-being of Nigerians at Home and Abroad  Afrocentricism; Promoting Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regime; Non alignment; Economic diplomacy; Domestication of treaties; Mutual Legal Assistance; Universal Jurisdiction; Role/ Participation in International Organizations; Diaspora matters; Role of foreign missions in Nigerian domestic affairs; and Status of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Land Tenure Matters and National Boundary Committee has Gen A. B. Mamman as chairman and Oba Michael Gbadebo Adedeji as deputy. Its work includes: Review of the Land Use Act; Traditional Land Holding Rights; Establishment and manning of boundaries; and Adjustment of boundaries.

The Economy, Trade and Investment Committee has Bola Shagaya as Chairman and Fola Adeola as her deputy. It will work on: Industries and Industrialisation; Diversification of the economy; Patents, Copyright, Trademarks, Trade or Business name, Industrial Designs and Merchandize Marks; Bio-piracy and traditional knowledge; Foreign Direct Investments Exclusive Economic Zone; Export Processing Zone; Oil and other mineral resources exploration and management; Trade agreement; Bilateral/Multilateral; Tourism and Economic Development plan
Energy Committee is headed by Senator Rashid Ladoja and Engineer Bello Suleiman as deputy. It will work on: Strategic energy policy;  Oil and Gas policy; Solar Energy; Nuclear Energy; Wind energy; Hydro energy; Thermal energy and Bio-energy
The Committee on Religion is chaired by both Bishop Felix Ajakaiye and Alhaji Nurudeen Lema. It will discuss State and religion; Sponsorship and public funding of pilgrimage; and Restoring national ethics, culture, morals and core values
The Committee on Public Finance and Revenue Generation has Adamu Aliero and Senator Azu Agboti as chairman and deputy respectively it will focus on:  Domestic and external debt; Tax administration; Tax contribution;  Internally generated revenue; Externally generated revenue; Regulation of external borrowing by States and Local Governments; and Productivity.

The Committee on Citizenship, Immigration and Related Matters is headed by Dr Muhammed  Abdullahi and Chidinma Uwajumogu as deputy. Its functions include: Movement of goods, persons and services; Citizenship and nationality; Integrated national database; Immigration and internal security Multiple citizenship of Nigerians; Residency; Indigeneity and residency (indigenes/settlers dichotomy); Refugee and asylum; Census; and Border patrol.


2. Conference Proceedings April 15, 2014
Proceedings at the on-going National Conference in Abuja took a different turn on Tuesday as the news of the abduction of 100 girls in Borno State reached the delegates.

All the female delegates who attended the session were dressed in black attire as a sign of mourning over what most members of the Conference described as an invasion of Nigeria by agents of destruction.

The school girls, aged between 9 and 12, were allegedly abducted by unknown armed bandits who drove in a convoy of trucks and buses, invaded the school compound, carted away goods from the stores and carried the girls away.
Aisha Mohammed Sani Ismail painted a gory picture of the incident when she stood to condemn in strong terms what has befallen innocent children whose only crime was to agree to be educated.

Various suggestions were made by several individuals on what the Conference should do. For example, Pastor Tunde Bakare, suggested that proceedings at the Conference be stood down as a show of solidarity with the victims of the insurgency.
He said it must not be said of the Conference that while the nation came under siege, delegates were still sitting and talking, showing no concern. His suggestion however was not well received by some members.

Based on political undertones that quickly emerged, Kunle Olajide in his contribution said events of this week must be viewed with serious concern and demanded that politicians should come together for the sake of the nation to salvage the situation.
He said categorically: “It is a state of war. Politicians must take politics entirely out of this issue. There are external sponsors who must be identified.”

His position was supported by Annkio Briggs who said: “I speak as a mother, I speak as a woman, I speak as a Nigerian. What is happening in Nigeria happens because of what some people whether inside or outside have decided will happen.”

She said although one part of Nigeria is principally affected by the acts of terror, it was becoming uncertain whether the killings and bombing could still be contained any longer.

Briggs made it clear that it was time for Nigerians to come together and decide on what was best for the country because “this is no longer about politics, it is about the security of the country.”

Chief Segun Osoba and Ledum Mitee offered what some members believed were concrete suggestions towards practically resolving the insecurity which most delegates attributed to infiltration of the Nigerian borders by people bent on destabilizing the country.

Osoba said Nigeria, at present, is in a state of war; and that gradually the economy and the education system in the northern part of the country were being destroyed in a manner that might be difficult to resuscitate.

The former governor of Ogun State suggested immediate closure of the borders between Nigeria and Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republics as an initial step to curb illegal border crossing.
In addition, he said instead of closing down the Conference, the secretariat should lead a delegation to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and express the position of the Conference to him and government.

Mitee, who supported the two issues raised by Osoba added that at a time like this, dirty political mudslinging and blame-sharing must give way to decent reasoning among political leaders towards finding solutions to the problem.

It was also his position that in taking advantage of the human resources available at the Conference, the issue of security should crics-cross all the committees so that committee members can discuss and make suggestions for the final report.
“This is not the time to grandstand,” he cautioned, “we may have elders but at a time like this, we need statesmen who should rise up and lead the nation out of this mess. This is no time for politics.”

A female delegate, Fati Ibrahim, said the Conference must look beyond expression of sympathy and the national mourning and take practical steps to ensure that the girls who have been abducted were returned in good condition.

Ramatu Bala Usman raised the question of whether there are no elders in the communities whose citizens have been subjected to suffering and death, adding that as people who are respected by everyone, the elders should be able to identify those behind and those actually perpetrating the ugly development.

She said if it were possible to identify the people behind the dreaded Maitasine sect in the past, if it were possible to identify aggrieved youths of the Niger Delta and brought the situation under control, if it were possible to identity the OPC members in the west, then why can’t Boko Haram members be identified?

Retired General Tanko Ayuba from the northwest suggested a complete overhaul of the security system and agreed with the previous speakers that Nigeria’s borders with some countries should be closed because they were too porous.

In addition, he said modern surveillance equipment should be acquired and mounted across the closed borders. “The time for talk is over. It is now time to act,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Conference has announced the establishment of and appointment of membership to 20 Standing Committees that would handle specific issues which members believe are paramount to the existence of Nigeria.

The list of the committees and members were distributed during the plenary on Tuesday (please see also the Conference website: www.nigerianational

There are committees on: Devolution of Power; Political Restructuring and Forms of Government; National Security; Environment; Politics and Governance; Law, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Reform; Social Sector; Transportation; and Science, Technology and Development.

Others are Committees on: Agriculture; Civil Society, Labour and Sports; Public Service; Political Parties and Electoral Matters; Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters; Land Tenure and National Boundaries; and Economy, Trade and Investment.

There are also Committees on Energy; Religion; Public Finance and Revenue; and the Committee on Immigration and Related Matters.

It was announced at previous meetings that issues to be discussed by each committee are not limited to those highlighted in the Work Plan which had been previously discussed by delegates and that other matters related to the stated subject matters should also be tackled.

Each delegates was given opportunity to choose three committees he or she would want to serve. From the three, the presiding officers were to decide, based on consideration of equal representation and expertise, which of the committees the delegate fits in.

The leadership of the Conference was also mandated through a resolution included in the National Conference Procedures to appoint the leadership of the Committees.

Akpandem James
Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications
National Conference 2014
*Photo Caption – Map & Flag of Nigeria