BY SONI DANIEL & HENRY UMORU

ABUJA — THE Secretariat of the National Conference, yesterday, released the Draft Rules of Proceedings to guide its deliberations throughout the duration of the confab.

Already, copies of the draft rules have been given out to delegates, most of who were still finalising their preparations for effective participation in the proceedings.

Also handed out to the delegates were copies of the 1999 Constitution apparently to guide them in deciding certain sections of the law, which they feel should be amended or expunged from the books.

The Conference Assistant Secretary in charge of Media and Communications, Mr. Akpandem James, confirmed the distribution of the documents to the delegates and explained that it was only the delegates who could ratify the rules for use.

James said: “What has been given out to the delegates is the draft rule of proceedings, which the members are to study and prepare for subsequent adoption when they resume for plenary on Monday.

“It is only after the adoption/ratification of the draft rules of proceedings by the delegates that we can have a set of rules to guide the proceedings of the conference,” the spokesman explained.

“If they (delegates) adopt it, then it becomes the rules guiding the conference. But if there is any clause they feel should be amended or rejected, then they will decide at the plenary on Monday. “What we are trying to do as a secretariat is to make the delegates as comfortable as possible to ensure smooth proceedings throughout the conference,” Mr. James said.

One of our correspondents, who visited the confab secretariat at the National Judicial Institute, along the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Way, noted that many of the delegates, who could not collect their conference bags before the inauguration by President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday, took turns to collect theirs on Thursday.

It was observed that many of the delegates were yet to collect their conference bags, while others had authorised proxies to collect the bags and keep on their behalf.

Some of the delegates had already collected copies of the Draft Rules and the 1999 Constitution. They also said that they had begun studying the “voluminous” reports of previous conferences that were given to them at their inaugural meeting.

Vanguard learnt that the rules of proceedings to be adopted by the delegates are a modified version of the rules being used by the National Assembly.

The rules, it was learnt are not different from the ones applied in previous national confabs.

A source told Vanguard that the procedure rule indicates that delegates must arrive at a consensus on issues, but when there is no consensus, the issue will be resolved by voice vote of yeh or nay.

The rule also indicates that every member must be present at each session, but when there is a case of ill health, the delegate must write to the Secretary to obtain permission to be absent.

President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the 492-man national conference last Monday with a passionate plea to the delegates to help re-launch Nigeria by being patriotic and nationalistic in their deliberations during the proceedings.

However, the delegates immediately adjourned for four days to enable them to settle down for the major discussions about to begin on Monday.

Although the Federal Government has ruled out buying official cars and providing accommodation for them, each delegate could be paid as much as N4 million per month in lieu of hotel, meals and refreshments as well as logistics.

For that purpose, the Federal Government may end up spending N5.976 billion out of the N7 billion earmarked in this year’s budget for the confab, if it is not extended beyond the initial three months.

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