Crisis Hit National Conference as Consensus Group Splits
As the ongoing National Conference in Abuja prepares to wind down its activities, there appears to be a major crack in its membership as a group within the conference known as the Consensus Group has been hit with crisis.
According to Punch report, the National Conference may end in chaos as a result of the crisis that has hit the group, which was set up to keep the conference and delegates in focus, despite conflicting views and different positions on issues.
Punch report said:
The consensus group was created on the fourth day of plenary at the National Conference after delegates failed to agree on the voting procedure to be adopted for the confab.
The 50-member group was responsible for resolving the lingering crisis over whether the conference should adopt a consensus or take decisions on two-thirds majority.
Some members of the group are High Chief Aleogho Dokpesi, Chief Edwin Clark, Gen. Ike Nwachukwu, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Prof. Jerry Gana, Ibrahim Coomassie and Prof. Anwalu Yadudu. They were selected from the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Our correspondent however gathered that a crack appeared in the group as Yadudu resigned his membership and formed a splinter group, with the aim of opposing some of the issues agreed upon by the leaders of the six zones.
Yadudu, in his undated letter to Dokpesi, stated that he and his group would no longer be part of the meetings. “I wish to state, with regrets, that our representatives have been directed to take no further part in the process” of deliberations by the committee, he said in his letter to Dokpesi.
Before the split, Yadudu had complained about the draft terms of agreement among the leaders from the six zones, which he felt were not in agreement with some of the states, especially some northern states.
Dokpesi, in his reply to Yadudu, dated June 24, had pleaded with him and others “in the interest of our beloved country to rescind the decision to withdraw from deliberations aimed at building consensus on major national issues at this conference.”
He reminded Yadudu that the “Leaders of Zones Harmonisation Committee were constituted by Chief E.K. Clark, Chief Olu Falae, Gen. Ike Nwachukwu, Prof. Jerry Gana and Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie in the presence of Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and I.”
The crisis may escalate this week, going by our correspondent’s finding that the two groups have been holding separate meetings on how to tackle each other when decisions will be taken on the last report; that of the committee on Devolution of Power.
The consideration of the report, which is expected to take place on Tuesday, will be followed by discussions on how to put the report of the conference together.
The Deputy Chairman of the conference, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, had called on delegates who wanted to speak on how to put the report of the conference together to write down their names at the conference secretariat.
It was learnt that the Yadudu group might either refuse to endorse the conference report or present a minority report.
Some of the northern delegates under the auspices of the Northern Delegates Forum had on Thursday said they were rejecting the resolutions of the conference taken that day, saying such resolutions must be withdrawn.
Apart from not being comfortable with the creation of 19 states, which would make the six zones to have nine states each, it was gathered that the northern delegates were not happy with the resolutions that modalities for referendum be entrenched in the Constitution and that each state could have its constitution.
A foremost member of the splinter group, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, told SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday that northern delegates will be going for broke when the conference resumes on Monday (tomorrow).
He said the group was not happy with the conference Chairman and his Deputy, Justice Idris Kutigi and Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, respectively, over the manner decisions were taken at the confab.
Junaid said, “We the northern delegates have met and protested to the leadership of the conference on the way and the manner through which the resolutions were passed.
“We agreed from the beginning that decisions would be taken either by consensus, or by 70 per cent voting. This means that there must be a head count of those in attendance when such decisions are being taken or when there are dissenting voices.
“This implies that there must be head count of delegates when people failed to agree on any issue by consensus. Since the commencement of the conference, this has not been done.”
Although, he said his group made its grievances known to the confab leadership and was assured that the matter would be resolved, he stated, “They cannot take us for a ride. We are going for broke, since they too are deceiving us and are leading without our consent.”
He said his group had met and mapped out strategies on how to achieve its aims but refused to disclose the strategies. He, however, warned that it might be easy for the leadership of the conference to ignore the northern delegates but it would be difficult to ignore the region during elections.
Mohammed alleged that the composition of the conference was skewed against the northern region from the onset. He also frowned at what he called the imposition of Kutigi and Akinyemi on the conference by the Presidency, saying the best option would have been for the delegates to elect their leaders.
But when contacted, the leadership of the conference said it was not aware of the complaints of the delegates.
The Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications of the conference, Mr. James Akpandem, who stated this in an interview with our correspondent, also said the conference would not react to issues that had not been formally brought to its knowledge.
“The conference management is not reacting to such issues that have not been brought to its knowledge,” he said.
Sources close to the management wondered why the delegates, who were part of the decision had turned around, to protest the confab’s collective decisions.
One of the sources said it was unfortunate that some delegates could now “gang up to say ‘no, we were not part of them’ even when they were present at the plenary and the decisions were televised live by some television stations.”
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