Conference adopts 20 standing committees

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Abuja – Delegates at the on-going National Conference on Monday in Abuja tentatively adopted 20 standing committees to deliberate on issues agitating the minds of Nigerians.

This followed a motion for the adoption of the proposed committee structure by Mr Orok Duke, representing South-South geo-political zone.

Duke moved the motion pending corrections to be effected by the secretariat following observations and suggestions made by delegates.

The motion was seconded by Mrs Dinatu Assani, representing Trade Union Congress.

The conference secretariat proposed 20 committees under which delegates would deliberate on issues of national interest.

Before the adoption, delegates had raised concerns about the proposed committee structure, saying there was need to review issues under each committee to properly reflect the interest of all Nigerians.

Some delegates suggested that some committees should be merged, while some issues subsumed under certain committees should form new committees.

One of the delegates, Mike Ozekhome, a Federal Government delegate, suggested that the media, which is subsumed under the Committee on Science, Technology and Development, should be separate.

He argued that “as the fourth estate of the realm and given the role played by the media, it deserves a committee of its own.

“I want to believe that the media is so important, so critical to our national development that it is not the kind of entity you can subsume or hide under another committee.

“So critical is it that under Section 22 of the present constitution, the media is specifically identified as the fourth estate of the realm.

“Such a critical body should not be subsumed under Science and Technology Committee.

“I will thus submit that the media be put in line with the committee dealing with civil society, labour and sports, while sports should be moved to an area that has to do with human development.’’

Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, representing Muslim leaders, suggested that Transportation, Agriculture and Energy committees should be merged under the Committee on Science, Technology and Development.

According to him, the committee on Labour and the Committee on Public Service should also be merged.

Sen. Bucknor Akerele, representing South-West, suggested that the issue of affirmative action should be removed from the Committee on Social Welfare and moved to the Committee on Politics and Governance.

She said “we are talking about women’s rights; for example the 35 per cent affirmative action is ignored under politics and governance and put under social welfare.’’

Speaking earlier, the conference Chairman, Retired Justice Idris Kutigi, said that the secretariat was aware of the need for more committees.

He, however, added that there was a constraint, to which the secretariat would draw the attention of the Federal Government.

“The proposed 20 committees still stand until government approval is sought to hire more committee rooms,’’ he said.

20 committees include Devolution of Power Committee, which has under it issues of fiscal federalism, revenue sharing, resource control and sharing formula, policing, as well as local government administration.

Others are the Political Restructuring and Forms of Government Committee, the National Security; Environment; Politics and Governance; Law, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Reform.

Others listed include Social Welfare; Transportation; Agriculture; Civil Society, Labour and Sports; Public Service; Electoral Matters, Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters, Land Tenure Matters and National Boundary.

There are also the Trade and Investment Committee, Energy; Religion; Public Finance and Revenue Generation, as well as Science, Technology and Development.

Delegates are expected to belong to not more than three committees.

A paper on the thematic issues highlighted under various committees is expected to be submitted on or before the close of plenary on Thursday, April 3, 2014. (NAN)

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