By Peter Duru – Makurdi
Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, Monday cited the lopsided appointments into the President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2014 National Conference (CONFAB) as one of the probable reasons the report has been dumped.
He observed that the appointments into the Conference were such that delegates from the south were more in number than those from the north which was not proper.
The Minister who made the disclosure at the presidential stakeholders meeting held in Makurdi was responding to calls by Benue stakeholders and Governor Samuel Ortom that the conference report is revisited or a Sovereign National Conference be convened to discuss the various challenges facing the country.
According to him, “when you talk of a Sovereign National Conference in a situation where you have a democratically elected National Assembly you may run into problems, who is going to take charge. These things have been tried in the past and they failed.
Even the National Conference of 2014 had it own problems the number of the people who came from the south outnumbered those from the north by over 160. The membership strength was not fair to the north.
“Any way that report was compiled by who? I did not know those who represented me. I was a Senator representing the Benue North-West district. Some people were hand-picked to go and draft a report and of course, the National Assembly rejected.”
While lamenting the damage done to the nation’s economy during the #EndSARS protests in part of the country, the Minister observed that the protest which started peacefully was however hijacked by hoodlums who visited mayhem on various states of the federation.
Senator Akume who commended Governor Ortom for ensuring that the protest in the state was peaceful, pointed out that the federal government had initiated various youth empowerment Programmes to uplift the condition of Nigerian youths and urged them to take advantage of the initiative to better their lot.
Governor Ortom, earlier in his welcome speech observed that some of the issues raised by the aggrieved youths were accumulated wrongs meted on people by successive governments.
Governor Ortom warned that leaders must engage the youths in all honesty otherwise the situation may consume both the leaders and the led.
Various stakeholders who spoke at the event including Wantaregh Paul Unongo, Senator Barnabas Gemade, representatives of the youths and Civil Society Organisations among others commended Governor Ortom for proactively handling the protests in Benue which helped in averting crisis and looting in the state.