Delegates Disagree over Tenure Elongation

by ThisDay Newspaper

As the debate on the speech of President Goodluck Jonathan to the National Conference continued yesterday, some delegates have called for a national government of two years with President Jonathan at the helm of affairs to enable him implement the recommendations of the conference.

In his suggestion that the 2015 general elections be postponed for two years, Chief B. Leonard from the North-east said that there have been several reports of past conferences that were not implimented. He therefore said that the only way to ensure that the outcome of the present conference is implemented is to postpone the coming general elections in 2015 and form a government of national unity.

According to Leonard, “The president said we should think outside the box. We should adopt a government of national unity for the next two years.”

But, General A.B. Mamman from the Federal Capital Territory disagreed. He added that three months was not enough to have meaningful deliberations on the problems confronting Nigeria. He said there were rumours making the round about the tenure elongation and that the National Assembly's plans to sabotage the outcome of the conference.

Another delegate raised an objection saying, "If there is any need for us to apply for extension, it will be misconstrued to mean that the conference is supporting third term."

At this point, the Chairman of the Conference, Justice Idris Kutigi cautioned delegates against such insinuations that may portray the conference in bad light.

However, the former Minister of Environment, Hassan Adamu from Adamawa State appealled to the delegates to address once and for all, the issue of tenure of the office of the President, stating that if this is addressed, the unity of the country would have been addressed.

In his contribution, the former Minister of Health, Prof. Ihechukwu Madubuike called for the restructuring of Nigeria, saying, “We need to reconstruct Nigeria by restructuring it along the lines of social inclusion. We should not confuse unity with uniformity. Nigeria is one of the incomplete projects of the 21st century.”

Nurudeen Lemu, a delegate from the National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) condemned the insecurity in the country, while condemning the religious acrimony between Christians and Muslims,
which results in bloodletting. According to him, “We condemn the murder of all Christians or Muslims not because of their religion, but because they are human beings. There is no compulsion in religion. The rule of law is the defender of the oppressed. We are all settlers; I pray that after this conference we will all grow in our humanity." He received a thunderous applause from the delegates, while the chairman described his comment as “beautiful.”

General Zemani Lekwot from Kaduna State called for creation of more states. He said the conference has a duty to revisit the need to create new states and local governments, advocating for complete independence for local governments and also asked for the creation of state police.

On insecurity, the delegate from Kaduna State called for a strong frontier force to man the borders, stating that the national identity card project should also be resuscitated.

He reiterated the need for a new education curriculum that would prepare children for self-employment since it is obvious that government cannot create enough jobs.

Anthony Adefuye from Lagos State listed Nigeria’s problems as corruption, religion and the police. According to him, “Someone was saying that ex-governors have jets, but even religious leaders have jets bought from the sweat of the poor who have no shoes."

The Deputy Chairman of the conference, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi jokingly said that all those who said "we are all corrupt will be denied lunch for the next three days.”

Another delegate from Taraba State, Isa Mafindi, who commended the president for convening the national conference, said, “There is no basis for poverty in Nigeria if agriculture is given adequate attention. Many farmers do not benefit from the by-product of their produce. We have one of the worst form of meat processing in the world, which is responsible for some of the diseases afflicting the people.”

Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), canvassed for the devolution of power, explaining that over centralisation of power at the centre was dangerous.

He decried the new twist and change of style by corrupt officials. He said that public officers have adopted a new style of declaring their assets. He therefore suggested that assets declaration should be made alongside with the tax declaration.

The conference observed a one-minute silence for victims of violence, including those of the Boko Haram insurgency.

Earlier on, the former acting national chairman of PDP, Dr. Bello Mohammed informed the delegates that the son of Chief Edwin Clark, who was abducted last week, had been released and in good health.
He said, “It was a very good news, this house should send a message of facilitation to Chief Clark. Government should take stern action to stem these cases of kidnapping and other crimes.”

He also said that about 120 people were massacred in some villages in Zamfara State, and appealed to the federal government and the security agents to address this persistent loss of lives.

The former deputy senate president, Ibrahim Mantu, who decried tribalism and religious bigotry in the country, said poverty does not know any boundary. He called for a united Nigeria to address the problems confronting the nation.

Alhaji Hassan Adamu from Adamawa State, in his contribution listed job creation, poverty, corruption, poor education and insecurity as some of the major problems confronting Nigeria. Another delegate, Yemi Fasamumini called for the castration of men that rape children. Her suggestion threw the conference into laughter, but she insisted saying, “old men of 72 years that rape children of three years should be castrated to serve as a deterrent.”

In his contribution, Ledum Mittee bemoaned the environmental degradation in Ogoni land, especially in the light of injustice against the Ogonis. According to him, “there must be justice and equity for this country to move forward.”

The former president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mamman Nasir, at the plenary reaffirmed his belief in the unity of Nigeria, and therefore called on the federal government to tackle corruption and insecurity in the county.

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