Conference to dissolve into committees Tuesday
BY HENRY UMORU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
AFTER four weeks of plenary sessions the National Conference will dissolve into committee sessions next week Tuesday when they return from the Easter break. This was one of the decisions delegates took yesterday before adjourning.
It came on day that the Chairman of the National Conference, Justice Idris Kutigi, said that they might ask for extension of time to enable them do justice to the gamut of issues before them. The conference was handed a three-month timeline upon inauguration last month and the delegates have used up one month already with much ground uncovered.
The list of 20 Standing Committees and their chairmen, co-chairmen and deputy chairmen was announced on Wednesday and made available to all the delegates. Five of the committees are headed by two co-chairmen while the remaining 15 are headed by a chairman each and a deputy chairman.
It is expected that on their return from the Easter Holidays starting today and ending on Monday, delegates will move straight into committee sessions to deliberate on crucial issues aimed at addressing the problems especially certain imbalances affecting the Nigerian polity.
Also yesterday, before the adjournment, the Work Plan, a document stating the activities of the Conference and the time-frame attached to such activities, was adopted by delegates for implementation pending any alteration based on necessity.
According to the Work Plan, Committee work would begin on Tuesday, April 22 after the Easter break and end on Wednesday, April 30.
Speaking yesterday, Justice Kutigi informed the delegates that the National Judicial Institute and 10 meeting rooms at Sheraton Hotels and Towers will be used as venues by the committees.
Kutigi, prior to motion for adjournment by former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and a delegate representing former governors, Obong Victor Attah, informed the house that the conference will also break – off for the World Economic Forum between May 7-9, assured that the conference may request for extra days subject to the government approval when the need arises.
Commends govts, security agencies over rescued students
Delegates also agreed to commend the Federal Government, security agencies and the people of Borno State for rescuing a good number of the 100 female students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, who were abducted by insurgents, on Monday.
Leading the debate at the plenary session under a matter of urgent national importance, a delegate representing the Civil Society Orgsnisation, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), who stressed the need for delegates to commend the Federal Government and security forces as well as members of the civilian Joint Task Force in Borno for securing the release of 129 of the girls kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram terrorists, said: “This morning we read that majority of the girls have been released.
The armed forces and people of Borno State have rescued the children. I am urging this House to commend the efforts of the armed forces and the people of Borno in rescuing majority of these girls while calling for the intensification of efforts for the release of the remaining eight girls”.
Seconding the motion, a delegate representing the Elder statesmen category, Iyom Josephine Anenih, explained that progress made at rescuing the girls which was supported by the civilian JTF clearly justified calls for concerted efforts by the local leaders to help checkmate the insurgents.
Delegates who spoke hailed the motion and it was agreed that the secretariat should convey their commendation to the Federal Government.
Despite the resolution to commend the Federal Government some of the delegates still desired more action to ensure safety of lives and property.
Restoring order in Wukari
In her contribution, former Minister of Water Resources and a delegate representing Taraba State, Dr. Mrs. Salome Jakanda, made an emotional appeal for the conference to ask the Federal Government to immediately deploy security forces to restore order in Wukari town. She told her colleagues that the town was currently besieged by invading terrorists, which has led to a 24-hour curfew that has put enormous pressure on the social and economic live of the people.
Jakanda said: “Right now Wukari is under siege and there is a 24 hour curfew in the place. People cannot come out from their house and they do not have food. It is an invasion that the people are experiencing now and the invaders came in their thousands and are killing and maiming innocent people,” she said.
Debates on insecurity over, attention of the delegates was shifted to the work of the committees.
Contributing, a delegate from Sokoto State, Alhaji Muhammed Maigari Dingyadi, who faulted the committees’ work plan, said that four days will not be enough for the plenary to fully discuss the reports of the 20 committees.
For Abubakar Gigiwa, time for the secretariat to prepare its report should be reduced and added to the time for committees’ work as that would give enough time for proper job to be done, adding that some adjustments on the committee composition be made in line with the complaints.
Let’s keep to time-frame – ABC Nwosu
In his contribution, former Minister of Health and a delegate representing Anambra State, Prof. ABC Nwosu, suggested that delegates should respect the time frame allocated for the conference and should not give the impression to the public that all they wanted was an extension of time for selfish reasons.
He said that he would not subscribe to any request for the extension of time of the conference because such move would be misconstrued by members of the public that the delegates were seeking extension for pecuniary interest.
He however urged delegates to work very hard within the limits of the time and deliver its report as scheduled.
Saving the conference from a repeat of Wednesday’s proceedings, Justice Kutigi had to call the conference to order and appealed to delegates to go for the committee work first and that the issue of time frame can be handled when the need arises.
He added that the work plan for the conference was prepared and given to the secretariat at the commencement of sitting and urged that efforts should be made to stick to it.