The report of the 2014 National Conference was presented by former President Goodluck Jonathan as the most important document among the handing over documents presented to his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari.
By Henry Umoru, Emman Ovuakporie & Joseph Erunke
The report was equally dispatched to the Seventh National Assembly at the last hour for enactment of the recommendations of the confab.
However, more than two months after the advent of the new regime in the executive and legislative branches of government, nothing much has been heard of the documents.
The conference which gulped billions of naira in direct government funding and also valuable man hours for attendees and other stakeholders is now receiving fresh reviews as to its merits and demerits.
Given the constitutional role of the National Assembly in bringing the recommendations of the conference to law, Vanguard sought the opinion of eight members of the National Assembly on their views on the report that is now quickly gathering dust in the legislature. The response of the legislators in both chambers of parliament was divided.
We’ll look at it in national interest – Akpabio, Bwacha, Aduda
Speaking on the issue, Senate Minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio said: “When it (report) comes, we will study it and treat it on merit because I am sure there are a lot of good things inside and we will look at it in national interest.”
Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, also shared similar views, saying “when it comes, we will study it and treat it on merit.”
On his part, Senate Minority Whip, Senator Philip Aduda, said: “We wait until we get the report. The report as submitted to former President Goodluck Jonathan is rich, with good input from Nigerians of high standing. When it comes, we will study it and treat it on merit.”
Also contributing, Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Biodun Olujimi, said: “There are many good things in that confab report and I believe the Senate will be able to take a good look at it, treat it and make sure that those things that merit being put where they should, will be put in the constitution or the process for which they will be put in the constitution will be put in place.”
There was no confab in 2014 –Marafa
However, Senator Kabir Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central), who claimed that there was no conference in 2014 said: “What is confab that you are asking? There was nothing like confab. You should stop talking about illegalities, please. What happened that time was not a national conference, it was just a jamboree organised by the former president to achieve a certain purpose he couldn’t achieve. So, as far as I am concerned, it has gone with the administration of Jonathan. May its soul rest in absolute peace.’’
Report will be discussed if…. –Omoworare
For the Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Babajide Omoworare (APC, Osun East), “The report, if sent by Mr. President will be listed for deliberation and there are 109 senators, I am just one and I just happen to be the schedule officer and we will see what comes of it. I have my personal views.
Issues of appropriation
I was of the view that a bill would have been brought before even the confab was established and taken at all and it should have been as an act of parliament, which will make our work easier.
“Despite that a bill wasn’t brought, which of course may raise issues of appropriation, how they got money to fund it and so on and so forth, what I think is very important is the fact that Nigerians sat down in that conference and they have taken certain resolutions that can become acts of parliament.
‘’They have a communiqué and that communiqué will be brought to us for us to see. So, it is for every individual senator and every individual representative to make up his or her mind on those issues. At the end of the day, it is just like double time has been spent, double energy has been exerted and double money has been spent.”
Abba-Ibrahim, Sani speak
Also speaking, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim (APC, Yobe East) said: “It depends on what they bring. We haven’t seen what they have brought so how would we know what we will say? I haven’t seen the report, I haven’t heard anything about the report, I don’t know anything about the report. How can you pass judgement on something you know nothing about? But obviously if they bring it to the National Assembly, there must be certain aspect of it that is good otherwise they won’t have bothered to bring it here at all in the first place.”
In his contribution, Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central) said: “I am among those who feel the document should be thrown out and it is of no use at all. But going by the fact that a lot of money has been spent and credible Nigerians have been invited to that conference, in order for such a thing not to be a complete waste, I think relevant issues that relate to the socio-economic and political development of the nation should be taken into consideration.”
Divergent views also reign among Reps
Members of the House of Representatives also expressed divergent views on the matter.
It’s dead on arrival –Omidiran
Former Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports, Rep Ayo Omidiran (APC, Osun), described the National Confab report as an issue that is dead on arrival and has no place in the Buhari administration.
“The confab report is gone with the wind, if the body language of President Buhari is taken into consideration,” she said.
We can sponsor private bills based on the report –Reyenieju
On his part, Rep Daniel Reyenieju (PDP, Delta) said that if Nigerians took a critical look at the report of the National Conference, they will understand that the confab report is a process being put in place to tackle some fundamental issues confronting Nigeria as a nation state. “The issues contained in the confab report are subject to debate and Nigerians should know that these issues cannot be implemented without the National Assembly being involved.
The president cannot implement the report by executive fiat. Some of the issues in the report have to come in the form of an executive bill to the National Assembly or as a member’s private bill as the case may be, especially such issues like the creation of states and amendment of the constitution”, he averred.
It’s a difficult situation – Yusuf
Former Deputy Chairman House Committee on ICT, Rep Tajudeen Yusuf (PDP, Kogi) said it would have been a lovely development if the report had been given the appropriate attention it deserved, adding: “It is a difficult situation. I would have loved to see the report getting the desired attention from the president but I doubt if he will touch it. The government is not interested in doing anything about it because they don’t want to agree that Goodluck Jonathan did anything right. It is unfortunate that such a well-thought out report will be jettisoned for primordial reasons.”
We’ll wait for Buhari’s views –Faleke
Former House Committee Chairman on Ethics and Anti-Corruption, Rep. Abiodun Faleke (APC, Lagos) said the lawmakers may have to wait until President Buhari presents his views on the way forward.
He said, “we will wait for the views of PMB and if sent to us I’m sure the House will do justice to it in the interest of the country.”
We’ll consider it if it comes – Famurewa
To Ajibola Famurewa (APC, Osun), the lawmakers will consider the report, .if sent to them. “I don’t think there is much problem with the report as it has not been forwarded to National Assembly for consideration. The National Assembly is the only arm of government recognized by our constitution to make law since we are representatives of the people.”