CONFAB: North moves to ‘kill’ report

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By HENRY UMORU

ABUJA— Strong indications emerged, yesterday, that northern delegates are moving to kill the yet-to-be adopted final report of the Justice Idris Kutigi-led National Conference.

 

The new move is part of a wider campaign against the resolutions of the conference and its leadership which some northern delegates had described as a failure.

It was gathered that the northern delegates met weekend in one of the hotels in Abuja to come up with strategies on how to ensure that the report does not see the light of the day.

UPROAR OVER Revenue formula: Delegates to the National Conference argue during debate on revenue sharing formula as the conference degenerated into a rowdy session, yesterday.

FILE: UPROAR OVER Revenue formula: Delegates to the National Conference argue during debate on revenue sharing formula as the conference degenerated into a rowdy session, yesterday.

 

The northern delegates, who attended the meeting, were said to be aggressively pursuing the agenda and enlisting the support of members of the North-West, North-East and North-Central caucuses of the National Assembly in making sure the report, when brought to the National Assembly for ratification, was ‘killed’.

According to a source, the meeting was convened by a former Senator who represented the Federal Capital Territory, served in the Senator Femi Okurounmu-led Confab modalities committee and is now a confab delegate on the platform of Senators’ Forum, Senator Kairat Gwadabe.

The meeting was said to have lasted well into the early hours of Saturday. The convener, the source said, is wooing other five delegates on the platform of Senators’ Forum.

Members of the Senators Forum at the confab are Senators Nnamdi Eriobuna (South-East); Iyabo Anisunlowo (South-West); John Braimbaifa (Bayelsa, South-South); Abdullahi Bala Adamu, Mohammed Ibrahim and Khairat Gwadabe from the North.

A source told Vanguard that the convener is also beaming the searchlight on other northern senators at the conference such as Ibrahim Ida, Saidu Dansadau, Jubril Aminu, Saidu Komo and Ibrahim Mantu among others to help woo serving senators after the adoption of the report.

The plot

According to the source, part of the group’s plan is to use the opportunity of the annual recess of the National Assembly to lobby senators and members of the House of Representatives from the north to ensure that the report was scuttled as well as use the Lesser Hajj in Mecca to talk to some senators.

Efforts to reach Senator Khairat Gwadabe on her mobile phone did not yield results. Several calls to her mobile could not connect and text messages sent to her mobile were not replied.

The crisis rocking the National Conference over recommendations on revenue allocation, derivation and allocation of five per cent of federal revenue to insurgency ravaged North-East geo-political zone and other parts of the north was deepened last Monday following a very sharp division between northern and southern delegates.

The plenary session finally came to a close without any agreement on the controversial issues.

Following the logjam, the conference pushed the issues to President Goodluck Jonathan, suggesting that he should set up a technical committee that would advise the Federal Government on revenue sharing formula, the percentage of derivation to oil producing states, mineral resources development fund as well as the special fund for reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas affected by problems of insurgency and internal conflict.

The leadership of the conference allowed time for mediation by leaders of the six geopolitical zones, leading to an agreement with derivation fund raised from 13 to 18 per cent; five per cent of revenue should go for the stabilisation, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and insurgency, in the first instance in the North-East, North-Central, North-West and any other parts of the country; five per cent for the exploration and development of all mineral resources, etc.

The recommendation, however, did not go down well with the North-Central and North-West delegates who insisted that specific mention be made that the five per cent insurgency intervention fund was for the three northern geo-political zones while South-East and South-West delegates asked that it be expanded to take care of every state of the country where terrorism and internal conflict had occurred.

The conference had to adjourn to reconvene on August 4 for final consideration of all resolutions reached and preparation of report.

The most contested report was that of the Committee on Devolution of Powers co-chaired by Obong Victor Attah, one-time governor of Akwa Ibom State and Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, leader of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and former Inspector General of Police.

However, the conference, in considering report of its 20 committees, had a smooth sail on 19 reports.

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