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SUNDAY MUSINGS: On this Matter of the National Conference

 

Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD
 
February 2, 2014
My People:
 The Federal Government recently announced the modalities for the much-awaited National Conference, following the submission of the report of the Okunrounmu-led  Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue.
On this issue of a National Conference, despite misgivings from various quarters, I am in general support provided:
– the process is as inclusive as possible; this has implication for length of time allowed for it as well as the character, number and process of choice of the delegates  [I recommend below six months rather than three months now announced by the FGN.]
– the total number of delegates in the Final Conference should not be unnecessarily wieldy. [Well, my recommendation below reduces the total number from 492 to anywhere between 426 and 479 – not much a reduction, but now with significant re-distribution among the various categories of delegates.]
– there is greater clarity in how and who does the selection and/or election of delegates
– while not an Ethnic Nationalities Conference, sufficient weight to their views must be built into the National Conference [I recommend below that the Ethnic Nationalities representation should be one-quarter to one-third of the total delegates.  Their number should therefore be increased from 90 to 107 (for one-quarter representation) or 160 (for one-third representation)]
– government choice of delegates should be as few as possible; this actually builds in more legitimacy, not less. [Instead of 181 (or 37% of total delegates), I recommend below  only 20 (19 Elder statesmen and the Chairman of the Conference) chosen by Government (President or Governors or FGN) – that is about 5%.]
– we increase of Diaspora representation from 8 to 12 (splitting America into USA (2 delegates), Canada (1) and South America (1), and Asia into Near Asia (2 delegates) and Far Asia (2 delegates), with Europe and Africa having 2 delegates each.]
– the cost of the National Conference is minimal [N4.7 million per person per month appears too high.  A breakdown of how this N7 billion total cost estimate was arrived at would be helpful.]  However, what is worth doing is worth doing well, and if it costs high, so be it.
– it ends up in a new Popular Constitution, complete with a Referendum,  not tinkering with the current one;
– the new Constitution forms the basis of the 2015 Presidential elections

Other recommendations will be found in tabular form below.
The recently-announced Modalities for the Conference don’t all expressly allow the above – but one hopes that some or all of my recommendations below will be considered before the National Conference begins.
And there you have it.  Comments are welcome.

The National Conference

 

S/NItemDecision of FGNAluko Commentary
1Official nameThe National ConferenceMissing is the adjective “Sovereign”, but I can let that go
2VenueAbujaFinal one may be Abuja, but there should be many mini-conferences first, AT least in the capitals of each of the states to ensure greater inclusivity
3DurationThree monthsToo short: six months are recommended
4Discussion TopicsAlmost all or any subject matter….except….Should be ANY subject at all
5No-Go AreaIndivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation, therefore the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable;This “No Go” area not necessary.  Allow those who want division and dissolution to be shouted down – or hailed – at the NC, then we shall see.  Be assured that Nigeria is not going dissolved anywhere…..so why fret?
6Conference management

Secretariat to manage, administer and run its affairs

Okay
7Decision MakingBy consensus; but where it is not achievable, it shall be by 75% majorityOkay
8Purpose of National ConferenceTo advise the government on the legal framework, legal procedures and options for integrating the decisions and outcomes of the national conference into the Constitution and laws of the countryJust to advise integration? No – it should be to OUTLINE a new Constitution entirely, not tinker with the old one.  NBA (Body of SANs) should be drafted to technocratically DRAFT the Constitution before a Popular Referendum, which should be given to National Assembly/President for formal assent only. The Constitution should be enacted before and be the basis for the 2015 Presidential elections, otherwise it should be POSTPONED until after then, otherwise NC might be a wasted effort
9Conference LeadershipA Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson of unimpeachable integrityOkay
10Delegate Nomination PeriodBegin Thursday January 30 and end Thursday, February 20, 2014Has already presumably begun, but  the ability of “getting together” of many of the named Stakeholder groups in order to nominate their delegates is very  nebulous
11Method of Nomination

List of nominees shall be submitted either online to www.osgf.gov.ng or in hard copy to the Office of the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties Office), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Federal Secretariat Complex, Phase I, 3rd Floor, Central Business District, Abuja.

Okay, but nothing is on www.osgf.gov.ng is available yet to do this nomination there. At least, I visited to nominate one or two persons (don’t ask me who.)
12Period of NCMarch to May 2014Too short – March to August 2014  minimum
13Approximate CostN7.00 billionEhn – N14.2 million per person, N4.7 million per person per month for three months? Let’s see the breakdown in terms of cost of venue, materials, accommodation, food, general conference services,  transportation, honorarium  – and legal “incidentals”.



Modalities for the nomination of the delegates

S/N

Stakeholders

FGN Number

Of Delegates

FGN Specifications

Nominator

(according to FGN)

Aluko Commentary

Recommended number

1Elder Statesmen

37

One per state and the FCT

PresidentToo many – 3 per geo-zone + FCT are enough

19

2Retired Military and Security Personnel

18

One delegate per geopolitical zone each from the Military, Police, State Security and National Intelligence Agency

StakeholdersToo many – one per geo-zone, mixed such that 2 each from the services

6

3Traditional Rulers

13

Two per geo-political zone and one from the FCTStakeholdersOkay – but just specify (chosen from one of the Chairmen of the Council of Chiefs by them)

13

4Retired Civil Servants

6

One per geo-zoneStakeholdersWhy?  Some of the delegates will fulfill this anyway.

0

5Labour

24

Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, to reflect Geo-political and gender balanceStakeholdersToo many

12

6The Organised Private Sector

8

NECA, MAN, NACCIMA, NESG, two delegates eachStakeholdersToo many – one each enough

4

7Nigeria Youth Organisations

12

National Youth Council of Nigeria and National Association of Nigerians Students, NANS, shall each nominate six delegates, one from each geo-political zone,

StakeholdersOkay

12

8Outstanding Youths and Role Models

6

One from each geo-political zone for “other”Federal GovernmentWhy? Government should as much as possible remove any tendency to dilute Stakeholder choice influence

0

9Women Groups

12

National Council Of Women Society, NCWS, two per geo- political zoneStakeholdersOkay

12

10Market Women Association

6

One per geo-political zone.

StakeholdersOkay

6

11Women Organizations

6

International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA;  Nigerian Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ; and Women in Management and Business, WINBIZ, shall each nominate two Delegates;StakeholdersOkay

6

12Political Parties in National Assembly

10

Parties that have representation in the National Assembly, including the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, All Progressives Congress, APC,  All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Accord Party, Labour Party, LP, two delegates each

StakeholdersToo few…all parties that have ANY representation at all in ANY state legislature. In fact, why not all INEC-registered parties – all 25 of them?

25

13Religious Leaders

12

Christian and Muslim LeadersStakeholdersOkay

12

14Civil Society Organisations

24

Across boardStakeholdersNot necessary – are these all other named associations NOT “Civil Society?”

0

15Nigerians in Diaspora

8

Europe, America, Africa, Asia, and Middle East,  two delegates per location

StakeholdersNot Enough – America should be broken into three (2 representing USA, 1 representing Canada and 1 representing South America), as well as Asia (2 representing Far Asia and 2 Representing Near Asia)

12

16People Living with Disabilities

6

One per geo-political zoneStakeholder Okay

6

17Media

8

Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, Nigeria Guild of Editors, Nigeria Union of Journalists and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria shall nominate 2 delegates each;

StakeholdersOkay

8

18Socio Political/ Cultural and Ethnic Nationality Groups

90

15 delegates each, per geo-political zone to reflect religious and ethnic diversities;

StakeholdersNot enough at all….this number should be near to or equal to the quorum of Conference membership (assumed to be one-third)

107 – for one-quarter representation;

160 – for one-third representation

19Professional Bodies

13

NBA, NSE, CIB, NMA, NIM, NIA, ICAN, ANAN, NIPR, AAPN, NIESV, Nigerian Environment Society and  Nigeria Economic Society

StakeholdersOkay

13

20National Academies

5

The Academy of Science, Academy of Engineering, Academy of Education, Academy of Letters and the Academy of Social Sciences shall each nominate 1 delegate;

StakeholdersOkay..but no ASUU?

5

21Former Judiciary Personnel

6

From the Judiciary not currently serving on the benchPresidentOkay…but why does the President have to be the one to choose them?  NJC nko?

6

22Former Political Office Holders

24

Former governors, Senators Forum, House of Reps Forum and the Association of Former Speakers shall each nominate one delegate per geo-political zone

StakeholdersOkay….but how will they choose themselves?

24

23FG

Delegates

20

At least six will be womenFederal GovernmentWhy? A nebulous group

0

24State Governments

Delegates

109

3 delegates each based on Senatorial District at least, while the FCT shall nominate 1 delegate, one of whom shall be a woman. The nomination shall be done by the state governors and where the state fails to nominate, the President shall nominate the required number from the state

State Governor and/or PresidentThe number is okay, but choice by state governors defeats popular representation.  This is where LIMITED election or selection by the populace should be instituted

109

25Former LG Chairmen

6

One from each from the six geo- political zones;ALGONOkay

6

26Conference Leaders

3

Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Secretary, observing geo-political spreadPresidentNumber okay, but President should just choose Chairman, and let the Conference choose the other two

3

 TOTAL

492

   

426 or 479

 

 

 

The National Conference: How we got here

 

S/NDateEvent
1Independence Day broadcast October 1, 2013

President Goodluck Jonathan announces set up a Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue (PACND)

Composition: Senator Dr. Femi Okurounmu-Chairman; Dr. Akilu Sani Indabawa -Secretary, Senator Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe, Senator Timothy Adudu; Professor Olufunke Adeboye; Professor George A. Obiozor, Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN, NNOM (declined, later replaced by Prof. Anya Anya),  Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed; Malam Bukhari Bello, MFR, mni; Mr. Tony I. Uranta,  Col. Tony Nyiam (Rtd) (later replaced by Mr. Solomon Asemota (SAN)); Alhaji Dauda Birmah, OFR and Dr. Mrs. Mairo Ahmed Amshi, MFR.

2October 7, 2013

Date of Inauguration of PACND

3December 18, 2013

Submission of Report of PACND

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