The federal government has called on all the delegates to the ongoing National Conference (confab) to conduct their debates in a manner that would yield positive results for the country.
This is coming as the Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI) through its Secretary General, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, has alleged that Muslims are under-represented at the confab.
Information Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, told State House correspondents yesterday that the government’s charge to the delegates was given at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
“At the Federal Executive Council meeting today (yesterday), we urged delegates to do everything possible to ensure that they conduct the debates in the conference in such a way as to bring out the best for the people of Nigeria as we seek to reform our country, as we seek to do our best in improving public service, improving governance and delivering services to the people of Nigeria”, Maku said.
Meanwhile, the JNI scribe had at a press conference yesterday in Kaduna expressed concern regarding the confab, noting that it is ill-timed given that electioneering campaigns were about to kick-off.
Aliyu said Nigerians have also expressed worries on the fact that huge amount of money would be spent on a national talk shop at a time when millions of countrymen are living in poverty.
“Some are in squalor, fear and anxiety while hundreds are killed, and thousands made homeless. Even with all these cries, the conveners have gone ahead to host the conference.
“We are however worried that the process of selecting participants to the conference has thrown away all the known dictates of fair representation in a democracy which will no doubt affect the credibility of the outcome of the conference.
“Although democracy is a game of numbers, this has not been respected. For instance, while Muslims constitute the majority in the country, Christians, who by all acceptable records are not more than 40% of the country’s population, ironically constitute 62% of the total delegates.
“We find it a great disregard and disrespect to the conscience of the Muslims that of the 20 delegates of the federal government, only six are Muslims. No Muslim is deemed fit to make the list of the Nigerian Economic Summit.
“In fact in the representation of the security agencies, Muslims have been so unimaginably short-changed with only one Muslim out of the six retired military and security personnel; one out of six retired security and NIA officers, and two out of six delegates of the Association of Retired Police Officers”, the group lamented.
In the meantime, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has announced that it was withdrawing from the ongoing National Conference, following the allocation of only one slot to it by the federal government.
In a communiqué issued after its Executive Committee meeting, President of the association, Mr. Okey Wali (SAN), said the single slot was insufficient for the association to make impact at the conference.
“In view of the fact that so many legal issues would be addressed at the National Conference, it is only fitting and proper for the umbrella association of all lawyers, the profession with expertise on law making in Nigeria should have more than one slot,” he said.