Delegates of the ongoing National Conference are to receive their allowances every two weeks and to that effect, the first biweekly allowances have been deposited in their bank accounts save for those with wrong account details. At a resumed plenary yesterday, the assistant secretary for finance and administration, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the disclosure immediately after the session commenced.
Conference chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi, had asked Yakubu to make the announcements after delegates had recited the national prayer.
He announced that delegates will henceforth receive their allowances fortnightly and a pay slip will be issued to them in order to know what is being paid for. Yakubu also disclosed that save for the secretariat’s painstaking verification exercise, some persons that are not delegates also filled and submitted same forms the actual delegate filled for payment of allowances.
Yakubu also told the delegates that they are now at liberty to forward the name of one driver and one aide to the secretariat for accreditation.
Meanwhile, the conference commended the media reportage of delegates who were caught sleeping during proceedings at the plenary on Monday.
The commendation came on the heels of an observation by a delegate, Aminu Mahmud, representing Public Interests Lawyers League (PILL), who had called the attention of the plenary to what he termed “slanted’’ reportage of conference proceedings by the media.
He particularly drew the attention of delegates to the publication of photographs of sleeping delegates on page six of LEADERSHIP Newspaper edition of yesterday.
“Today on page six of LEADERSHIP Newspaper, you will see pictures of some delegates published by the paper. I think the media should be called to order.
“Some of us have observed slanted reports of the conference by the media and we call on the press to be responsible in their reports,’’ Mahmud said.
The observation was discarded by most of the delegates, who said that the media had the right to report the proceedings of the conference to the public in its entirety.
Comrade Yinka Odumakin, warned against attempt to gag the media in its reportage of the conference.
“Mr Chairman, in as much as we are trying to ensure that the media reports accurately what is happening here, I think there should be no attempt to gag the media. I’ve seen the item he is talking about, we have not been sent here to come and sleep,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, the national chairman of Labour Party, Dan Nwayanwu, said “Mr Chairman, they have just said the truth, they are not lying. We are here for serious business, anybody who has to sleep may take an excuse and climb the isles out to take a nap.”
“The press must report what they have seen and they are not lying by what is on page six of LEADERSHIP,” Nwayanwu said.
During the resumed debate on the draft Rules of Procedure as contained in the Order Paper, which started on Monday, there were hot arguments for and against the provision of Order 13 Rule 3 of the draft Rules of Procedure, which stipulated that the final outcome of the Conference is to be submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Some delegates opposed the rule which others in favour of it warned against arrogating the powers of the National Assembly to the conference.
Delegates, who spoke against the Rule argued that the gathering is representing Nigerians and could even amend the Constitution or draft a fresh new one.
Other delegates kicked against any move to subject the report of the Conference to the scrutiny of the National Assembly, arguing that the legislature has always killed previous reports.
Responding to the arguments, the Conference Secretary, Valerie Azinge, emphasised that the assembly was a National Conference and not a political conference or constitution amendment conference.
After heated arguments for and against, delegated voted in favour of the provision to send its final and assented report to the President for consideration.
Also, the resumed debate on how to take final decisions at plenary sharply divided the delegates along regional lines of North and South.
While all northern delegates that spoke supported the provision of Order 11 Rules 1 and 2, which emphasized consensus and alternatively 75% majority votes respectively, the southern delegates agreed with provision of Rule 1 and opposed the provision of Rule 2 instead opting for two-third majority votes as determinant of decisions.
The debates dragged for a long after which the chairman suspended the matter “till further notice” and on that note the session adjourned.