Fears Over Future of National Conference Report

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Mohammed Bello Adoke

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Despite the setting up of an implementation committee, many Nigerians still don’t believe that President Goodluck Jonathan is determined to fully implement the recommendations contained in the 21-volume report of the national conference

By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Sep. 22, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT  |

THE setting up of  a  committee headed by Mohammed Bello Adoke, attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, to see to the implementation of the 21-volume report of the national conference, has not fully doused the fears and doubts of cynical Nigerians that President Goodluck Jonathan will not whittle down some revolutionary recommendations contained in the report.

The scepticism about the government’s sincerity to make any good out of the conference resolutions increased when the president announced that other than sending the report unedited to the National Assembly he, as the leader of the executive arm of government, would set up a committee to see to the implementation of the conference recommendations.

The mention of a committee was all the critics of Jonathan’s administration needed to pounce on him. They argued that setting up another committee to look into the report was a subtle way of watering down some of the recommendations and selecting only those aspects that favoured the government.

As the nation awaits the resumption of the National Assembly to see what the lawmakers would make out of the conference report, Jonathan, on Friday September 5, 2014, went ahead to inaugurate  a seven-man committee to study and draw up the implementation strategy.

Apart from Adoke, the committee has Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, secretary to the government of the federation as its secretary. Other members of the committee are    Senator Idris Umar, minister of transport, Bashir Yuguda, minister of state for finance, Osita Chidoka, minister of aviation, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, minister of state for federal capital territory administration and Architect Mike Onolememen, minister of works. Sources in the Presidency have disclosed that more members of the implantation committee will soon be named.

Speaking at the inauguration of the committee, Jonathan said it was mandated to embark on an in-depth study of the report of the conference, articulate the recommendations and develop appropriate strategies for their implementation.

He said: “This committee is set up to study the report of the 2014 National Conference, articulate the recommendations therein, develop appropriate strategies for its implementation and also advise government on all matters necessary for the effective implementation of the report.”

The committee would also advise government on all matters necessary for the effective implementation of the report as well as give necessary encouragement for the implementation to take off immediately.

Good as it appears, Jonathan’s decision to set up a committee which will determine what part of the conference report will be implemented by the federal government is already generating mixed reactions from the public.

While some see it as a necessary step, others argue that it is a waste of time and a   needless procedure since the recommendations of the conference are very clear. A group in Abuja known as the Group of Concerned Nigerians, GCN, has accused the president of delaying the implementation of the conference recommendations in order to use it as a campaign material for the 2015 elections.

In a statement signed by its Secretary, Dapo Fashakin, the group said setting up a committee to look into the recommendations was a confirmation of its earlier position that President Jonathan had an ulterior motive for convening the conference.

“We have said it before and we would like to reiterate here that nothing will come out of this conference. Now that the president has set up yet another committee to consider the recommendations, that will be the end of it. Jonathan will use the conference report as a campaign tool by promising the people that he will implement the recommendations but that is just another political promise that will never see the light of the day”, the group said.

There is also growing anxiety that the report would not be implemented as recommended and that whatever aspects of it the federal government finally decides to accept will no longer be a product of the collective will of the delegates but that of the government.

Wesley Epkekurede, a public affairs analyst, said the cycle of committees before and after the conference is an indication that some of the desires of the people may not be fulfilled. “By setting up another committee to look into the report, filter it and select only that which favours the government, Jonathan has shown that he is not ready to do much with the conference. I do not think we need a special committee to look into those recommendations because they are very unambiguous and straight to the point”, he said.

Sensing that the federal government may be playing smart, a group known as the “National Consensus Initiative,” has vowed to ensure that the report of the national conference submitted to President Jonathan was faithfully implemented. Remi Olatubora, interim coordinator of the group, said in Abuja that it would be unfair for such recommendations generated by the delegates to be left to gather dust. Olatubora, who led Ondo State delegates to the Conference, disclosed that the group would work together as an advocacy group towards ensuring that “decisions of the conference are not left in the shelf to gather dust in the manner in which the reports of earlier conferences were treated”.

He added that the desire to come together in a group was informed by a common desire of most of the delegates that all relevant governmental organs and agencies implement the decisions of the conference.  The group, whose membership cuts across the six geo-political zones, comprises representatives of youths, the academia, lawyers, politicians, civil society organisations, CSO, religious bodies, the Nigeria Union of Journalist, NUJ, and the Diaspora, among others.

He said the mission of the group was to kick-off discussions on issues flowing from the conference, as an independent input into the process of consolidating the gains of Nigeria’s centenary, and it’s reconstruction into a responsible, accountable, and egalitarian society.

There is also another group of people who believe that neither the national assembly nor the presidential panel is in the best position to review the recommendations of the conference. Such people are sticking to their guns in calling for a referendum which will give the people an input in the recommendations of the conference.

One of such persons is Yinka Odumakin, who was also a delegate at the conference. In a recent article, he argued that a referendum by the Nigerian people would have been the best method of adopting or rejecting the recommendations in order to produce a new constitution that is truly made by the people of Nigeria.

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