After much horse-trading, delegates to the National Conference yesterday adopted all the three reports of the plenary session, while adjourning till August 21 to append their signatures.
With the adoption of the final report, the conference is in the process of winding down after five months of deliberation.
Accordingly, yesterday’s session witnessed lots of unsolicited hugs, back patting and handshaking unhindered by ethnic divisions as the unanimous adoption of the final report scaled through without the usual rancour.
Conference Chairman and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, Deputy Chairman and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi; Conference Secretary, Dr (Mrs) Valerie-Jenete Azinge, and the three assistant secretaries savoured the atmosphere with joy.
Shortly after the adoption of votes and proceedings of the previous day, the session opened with a “motion to mandate the secretariat to vet and effect amendments” to the three reports prepared by the secretariat.
The motion for the adoption of the confab report was jointly sponsored by Jerry Okwuonu and former Rivers State Governor Peter Odili “to mandate the secretariat to vet and effect amendment to the three reports prepared by the secretariat.”
The motion read: “Whereas the secretariat has done a very marvelous job of compiling the report of the conference and presenting same to us in easily readable and cross-checkable format; and
“Whereas delegates have perused all the reports and submitted in writing all items of omission or incorrect addition to the final report; and
“Bearing in mind the dual necessity of bringing the conference to a close for purposes of not unduly over-reaching the logistics provision of the conference and not unnecessarily prolonging the continued conglomeration of people in contradiction to the prescription of Health Authorities especially as the country tackles the Ebola crisis.
“It is hereby moved that the secretariat be mandated to vet all the written submission by delegates and make necessary correction thereby providing the final draft of the conference reports.”
Another motion to slightly amend the earlier one was taken for a change in the nomenclature of one of the volumes of the reports from Draft Constitution to Proposed Amendments to the 1999 Constitution was moved by another delegate Adamu Maina Waziri.
The motion read: “To cultivate a conducive environment for delegates to validate and adopt the final report of the conference, we the undersigned delegates, hereby offer and endorse the following observations and recommendation that seek to facilitate the process and lead to amicable ending of the conference proceedings.
“We note that the secretariat of the conference on August 11, 2014 tabled before delegates a draft report contained in three volumes that are broken down in seven chapters
“In particular, we observed that volume III titled Draft Constitution, conveys an attempt to insert various resolutions and recommendations of a constitutional nature that were adopted by the conference as proposed amendments to the appropriate sections of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
“We recall and welcome the clarification and confirmation offered by conference chairman at plenary on August 13, 2014 that indeed Volume III contains proposals for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
“We urge the leadership of the conference, in collating the final report, to more appropriately designate Volume 111 as: Draft Proposals to amend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
“Furthermore, we note and welcome the amenability of the conference secretariat to entertain suggestions from the delegates that point out any specific error to misrepresentation of decisions taken or resolutions adopted by the conference and/or any inadvertent failure to incorporate same in the draft report.
“We are aware that delegates have responded to this call and submitted to the Secretariat their various observations and suggested amendments to the draft.
“In preparing the final report, we urge the conference secretariat to keep faith with and reflect fully and accurately all resolutions and recommendations accepted by the conference and as contained in votes and preceding that were formally adopted.
“Subject to the acceptance of the foregoing understanding, assurances and conditions and in accordance with the Procedure Rules, 2014 of the conference, we move for the validation and adoption of the draft reports contained in volume 1,2 and 3 without further debate.
“In the spirit of the consensus building cultivated by members and to maintain the bridges built during the currency of the conference, we urge all delegates to subscribe to this plea.”
The two motions, when put to voice vote separately by the chairman received a unanimous acceptance by the delegates.
Spontaneously, all the delegates stood up and enthusiastically sang the old national anthem “Nigeria We Hail Thee”.
The chairman then called on Chief Richard Akinjide to formally move a motion for the adoption of the final Conference Report.
Shortly after, delegates took turns to pour encomium on the leadership of the conference for their maturity in steering the conference proceedings.
Despite the unanimous adoption of the national conference reports, northern delegates later yesterday reneged and demanded that some errors in the reports must be corrected before they would append their signatures to the report.
Addressing a press conference, the Chairman of the Northern Delegates Forum (NDF), Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, who is also the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), listed the errors contained in the three reports of the conference that must be corrected before Thursday next week.
Coomasie said the identified errors had since been submitted to the conference secretariat for necessary action.
Also, leaders of the delegates from the northern part of the country called a press conference to clear the air on the perception that they were out to cause confusion and disrupt the conference.
Coomasie explained that they had no intention of causing any form of chaos or disorder but were just preventing what would have turned the country upside down.
He said: “What we kicked against was the new draft constitution which was part of the documents distributed to us, but immediately we realised it was not part of the conference report we supported the adoption of the report.
“What we stand for is a united Nigeria, we kicked against anybody or group of people trying to bring their idea to bear on other zones.”
Accompanied by other northern leaders and some from the North-central zone led by Iyorchia Ayu, Commasie reiterated that the north is an integral part of Nigeria and would always strive to protect the unity of the country.