By Ben Agande
FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo and another former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari, as well as Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State were, yesterday, conspicuously absent from the National Council of State, NCS, meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
No reasons was given for the absence of Obasanjo but Buhari had earlier vowed that he would not attend the NCS until the injustice allegedly done to him during the 2011 presidential election was redressed. Amaechi was, however, said to be out of the country.
Those who attended, however, endorsed the proposed national conference by President Goodluck Jonathan saying anything that would strengthen the unity of the country should be encouraged. The council also advised politicians to desist from making inflammatory statements that are capable of threatening the peace and security of the country.
Among those present were former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, ex- President Shehu Shagari, General Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan and General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
Former Chief Justices of the Federation, Mohammed Lawal Uwais, Idris Kutigi, Alpha Belgore and Dahiru Musdapher as well as the Senate President, David Mark and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, also attended the meeting which has not been held for more than a year now.
Before the commencement of the meeting, yesterday, a mild drama played out between the Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako and his Abia State counterpart, Theodore Orji, when the former protested that he would not sit close to the later because he was no longer in the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Though there was no official briefing at the end of the meeting, the governors of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam and Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, told State House correspondents that the council discussed the issue of national security, the appointment of the chairman of the National Population Commission as well as endorsed the proposed national conference.
Okorocha said, the meeting “deliberated on how to move the nation forward; we also discussed other national issues including the centenary celebrations and other security matters. We have to adopt some new strategies on how to move the nation forward. Politicians have also been warned against unguarded utterances so as not to heat up the polity.
The meeting has helped to resolve a lot of issues ”We have to adopt some new strategies for tackling security issues in the country. We discussed national conference which we saw as a welcome development. Conference is a good development and discussions were not along party lines.”
On his part,Governor Suswam said, “The president briefed us about a lot of things including the national conference that is coming up. There were a lot of contributions and the council approved it. We were also presented with a list of the new chairman for the population commission and some new members to be reappointed. That too was approved and then the National Security Adviser, NSA, briefed us on the general security situation in the country which all members of the council contributed as to the way forward and the decisions that will be taken to address some of them.
”The NSA briefed us that some of the unguarded statements by some prominent Nigerians were capable of inciting people; that we should be careful as major actors in the polity to avoid making some unguarded utterances that could unwittingly incite the generality of Nigerians. The council took note of that and agreed that people should be more careful about what they say as public office holders.”