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Published On: Mon, Jul 7th, 2014

Crisis as Jonathan’s Confab winds down

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Confab EndsBy  Ese Awhotu

The ongoing National Conference set up by President Goodluck Jonathan has no doubt entangled itself with decisions that are threatening its survival, days before its tenure come to an end.

The feelings of some of the delegates from the North was that intrigues, manipulation, betrayal and personal interest instead of national interest currently hold sway at the Confab headed by Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, and his co-Chair, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi.

Our reporter reliably learnt that many delegates from the region are threatening to boycott the sessions  over the alleged manipulation of deliberations as well as voting process in adopting reports of various committees of the Confab.

The northern delegates were said to have met last night in Abuja to deliberate on possible boycott of the sessions.

However, our reporter reliably learnt that there was a split as conferees from the North-central geo-political zone hinted they were not boycotting the concluding part of the sittings.

One of the northern delegates who spoke to our reporter last night listed their grouses to include selective choice of delegates to speak during deliberations, “especially on controversial recommendations of some of the committees.

“For instance, if you’ve noticed, in the last two weeks or so, Malam Magaji Dambatta has deliberately been sidelined by the leadership. His hands have always been up, but the leadership pretends it doesn’t see him”, the delegate said.

The source further said that, “it will also appear as if the leadership of the Conference has zeroed in on some delegates as the ones to speak on all issues being deliberated upon”.

Another cause of worry for the northern delegates was that, “though the committee of the ‘50 Wise Men’ had resolved that where we’re unable to reach consensus on any matter(s), 70% voting majority will be adopted in taking decisions, the Conference leadership resorted to voice vote, which makes nonsense of the thoroughness that should guide our decison-making process”, said the delegate.

It was learnt yesterday that President Jonathan has expressed worry as the Conference faces its biggest challenge after it touched on dynamite issues such as state creation and political offices.

The National Conference last week took a lion’s form and ventured into a deadly matter, that of the creation of more states, by approving the creation of 18 more states with a special approval of an additionalstate for the South-east geo-political zone under the principle of “fair play”.

However, while the northern delegates were unhappy, the Igbos have hailed the Confab’s decision, describing it as one taken in national interest.

The resignation of Professor Auwalu Yadudu from the Consensus Group at the Confab, and the formation of a splinter group, are all indicators to the fact that the Conference may lose hold of the delegates, and likely collapse and end in crisis.

The spokesman of the northern delegates, Mr. Anthony Sani, according to reports said northerners were not opposed to creation of new states so long as they meet the requirements set up by the creating authority.

The northern delegates wondered why a state would be created on equality without equity rather than on meeting laid down criteria.

They also saw no wisdom in excluding population and land mass among the factors to be considered in the creation exercise.

This issue is coming barely a week after a delegate from Kogi state circulated a document requesting the Confab to elongate the tenure of President Jonathan and the governors.

Nigeria narrowly survived tenure elongation plans by ex-president Olusegun Obsanjo after a disagreement between him and his deputy, Atiku Abubakar, the National Assembly and several other Nigerians, including the Diasporans, almost left the nation in shambles.

The arrowheads of Obasanjo’s tenure elongation plan are very visible characters in Jonathan’s Confab, and have been praise-singing the president’s second term tunes on the sidelines.

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