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National Confab Panel Amends Report

Senator Femi Okurounmu
Senator Femi Okurounmu

The Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue has altered its recommendation that the delegates to the proposed national conference should be elected on the basis of federal constituencies, Sunday Punch reports.

Our reporters gathered in Abuja that it now recommends that the the delegates to the conference should be nominated by stakeholders.

Before the revision, the committee had, in its 4,000-page report, recommended that 360 delegates should be directly elected by universal suffrage, while 185 delegates representing special interest groups would be nominated.

It had argued that, “The advantage of electing delegates on the basis of federal constituencies is that it allows wider participation of the grass roots.”

A prominent member of the presidential panel, who pleaded anonymity, said the decision to revise the recommendation on the election of delegates was reached at the harmonisation meetings with the government on Wednesday and Thursday.

He also said the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission in the proposed conference had been amended.

Pleading anonymity, he said, “It is one of the issues we have revised. INEC will not be involved in choosing delegates. Let me just say there will be no election. Delegates will be nominated by the appropriate stakeholders.

“Delegates will be nominated by appropriate stakeholders. I am not talking of any constituency now. I am saying there is no election.

“We have finished the harmonisation. We finished yesterday (Thursday). What is left for the government is to convene the conference. We have finished all the preliminary work.”

He added that no White Paper would be issued on the committee’s report.

On the date for the conference, he stated, “Only President Goodluck Jonathan can say when it will hold. There have been reports that it will begin in March. That remains a rumour. It is likely to be February.”

A member of the committee, Solomon Asemota (SAN), in his minority report, had said it would be nebulous to give INEC any role in the conference.

The report was said to have been submitted by Asemota on behalf of a group, The Patriots.

In a related development, Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Bamidele Aturu, has advised that the conference should be dominated by the representatives of labour and professional organisations.

He said, “The confab should be dominated by representatives of labour bodies.

“We should also consider professional organisations like the Nigerian Medical Association; Association of Registered Nurses, Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, therapists, the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria. We can also reflect the ethnic configuration of Nigeria.

“The confab must not be dominated by ethnic groups because people are making it look like it is an ethnic jamboree. We should make it labour-focused. Youths and the physically challenged also have roles to play.

“Government must not nominate any member. Once government nominates anybody, then the confab is hopeless. Each group should nominate its members.”

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