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Published On: Mon, Mar 31st, 2014

How we arrived at 70 percent consensus, Sen. Kumalia

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Senator Mohammed Kabiru Jibril believes the various ethnic nationalities irrespective of their national resources and numerical strength need each other to bond together into a great nation. He says the resolution of the contentious three quarter consensus that nearly disrupted the conference is victory for negotiation and compromise. He Spoke with Patrick Andrew. Excerpts…

Today, there was an attempt to rescind the initial resolution empowering the delegates and not the leadership of the conference to appoint the chairmen and deputy chairmen respectively for the various committees?

Today, there was clear demonstration of the beauty of negotiation and deliberation as captured on the floor of the conference. Members had thought it wise to be fair tom themselves and to accept compromises.

Accordingly, the recision of the decision of the conference on the appointment of chairmen and their deputies was accepted by one and all in good faith, particularly because it was presented and believed by all members that the real position accepted by all delegates is fairness and justice.

This, by ensuring that appointments are made fairly across the country and that the confidence necessary to boost the morale of delegates to contribute and participate in the conference is further uplifted.

As you might have noticed there was hardly any descent. When i said hardly it doesn’t mean it was 100 percent but was practically about 90 percent and it also goes further to show that getting the support of others on any issue at 75 percent is impossible is not necessarily so because today we have passed two motions-one after the other- very easily, very successfully each one of them with the majority voting in favour of the matter.

Do you think with the resolution of the contentious three quarter issue the conference will now be refocused on the core issues for which it was constituted?

How did you see the plenary today?

Obviously it was more focused, more organised, more disciplined and participatory, more acceptable because everybody is thinking together and everyone has accepted a lot of issues as presented today as there were presented by the delegates themselves individually. So, l think the spirit is very obvious.

Most from the North had felt that the agitation for two third consensus was meant to further marginalised us, do you think the present development is victory for the North?

It is not necessarily intended to marginalised, however, it was perhaps intended to balance, to bring fairness and equity. I do not think it there is any provision in the rules that was intended to give advantage to any side or marginalised.

How about the numerical strength?

Well, the number could be more on one side and less on the other. But then, the provision of the three quarter majority was meant to ensure that if you to raise anything, you would need the support of your brothers and sisters from the other side.That is to say that you must cross the bridge. That is to say that the issue must assume a national face, a national acceptance, a national significance and that everybody will be happy for it.

 

Senator Mohammed Kumalia, a representative of the socio-cultural organisations, from the North East zone moved the motion that rescinded the resolution empowering committees to appoint chairmen and their deputies. The motion sailed through and he later spoke to Patrick Andrew and how they consensus over the contentious voting mode was finally secured and the essence of the consensus.Excerpts…

You moved a motion that sought to rescind the resolution that empowers the delegates to select the chairmen and deputy chairmen respectively of the various committees. What was the reason behind it?

It seems it did not sail through.

No, the motion sailed through, it was passed. The motion was to rescind an earlier decision that we had taken to cede the powers of appointing the chairman and deputy chairman of respective committees to the leadership of the conference. Initially, the decision was that committee chairmen and their deputies by appointed by each committee, but we realised that that may be problematic because it is very possible that most of the committee chairmen may come from just one area, group or one geo-political zone or a section of the country, and on so and so forth.

We do not want a situation whereby our work will be delayed by unnecessary acrimony and we understood that the best way of making progress in this conference is to make sure that there is better and greater understanding among all delegates. And a key to success and to attaining consensus, which is a key tool that we want to use to determine all issues, is to promote confidence among all the delegates.

Therefore, one of the ways to do that from day one is to come up with an equitable distribution of the chairmanship so that it cuts across all parts of the country or groups or religions as represented as much as possible and all states in the federation have the position or deputy chairman.

If you allow the committees to appoint these personnel since one committee may not know what the other is doing there may not fairness in the distribution of positions. But with this development, the leadership of the conference can sit down and carefully look at the respective personnel, states and groups and equitably distribute positions.

This was why l felt that we should bring a motion and it was at the deliberation of the 50-wise men committee that we agreed that the motion should be brought and I was nominated to move the motion, and the motion sailed through successfully.

But sir, some are of the view that the motion was defeated?

No, many did not understand the contest of the question. Those in favour of the original motion which was the motion that I moved voted yes and the yes had it. There was a counter motion moved by another person. In the voting pattern, if the yes have it, it means that the motion sailed through, the nos were for the counter motion and in this case the overwhelming majority voted yes.

Remember that the counter motion said we should not revisit the issue already passed by the resolution of the majority that had said that the committee chairmen and their deputies should be appointed by the committees themselves. But that was defeated.

Are you saying that the appointment of chairmen and their deputies will be appointed by the committees themselves?

Cuts in…. No. That’s not what I am saying. Instead, that’s what we changed. The chairmen and their deputies for the various committees will be appointed by the leadership of the conference- the selection committee made up of the chairman of the conference- Justice Kutigi, the deputy chairman-Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, and the other principal officers. They will sit down and make those appointments.

It’s like the three quarter and two third controversy has finally been laid to rest. Are you satisfied with the development or do see it as fair representation of the yearnings of the delegates?

I am very satisfied. You see when you want to build a consensus amongst people with divergent opinions and interests, you have to shift from your traditional position, whatever that was, if you want tom move from that position, then you are not ready for progress. Consensus building is about meeting the other party at the point that may not necessarily be what you had wanted but at least it minimises your discomfort.

So what happened was that some people wanted two third while others insisted on three quarter? Three quarter is 75 percent while two third is 66. 7 percent so there was a need for give and take to arrive at 70 percent. We added four here and discounted five here to arrive at the 70 percent. And I think that’s consensus, at least 70 percent of the delegates should agree on any matter for it to be debated or they should vote for any issue to be carried.

This is good for the good for the country because it a fair representation of the opinions of Nigerians across ethnic nationalities. And it is good for everybody. Of course, from both sides, your side may have experience, another side may be small in population, say about five percent of total population of Nigeria. However, if you have 15 percent opposing a position it is okay and those who are on the mainstream should have their way that’s alright.

Are you satisfied with the mode of deliberation today?

Well, in the last two weeks we have been faltering in terms of being in control by the chairman. But as a result of the meeting that we held with the chairman we said that the chairman should be more assertive and we agreed that members should behave better. So over the weekend, all the caucus groups had their meetings and the issue of being decorous in their approaches and manners were prominent in their deliberations.

That was why you heard the chairman consistently telling members to be on their seats that he will recognised them. And you must have seen how delegates conducted themselves in a very mature manner.

I think going forward we would even do better we had done so far, there will be less agitation. Now most people want to speak and they will all have their turns and then later there will nothing to say and that means delegates will dissolved into committees to go and do their work.

 

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