Spotlight On Recycled Delegates At The Ongoing National Conference
Nigeria is at it again, with the inauguration last Monday of the much-debated national conference. This conference, the tenth in Nigeria’s history since 1957 when the first was held, could be termed as the most ill prepared for, among them; the delegates have been forced to take a short recess for the secretariat to fine-tune its arrangements.
Consequently, as delegates to the conference settle down to work, Nigerians are building high expectations of the exercise. Curiosity is high as to whether the conference will be a success, or go the way of the previous ones, the results of which are gathering dust in the archives.
Some of the delegates to the previous conferences are also part of the present national talk. Will there be a common understanding in the interest of the nation, or will the negative handwriting of history be replicated? LEADERSHIP Friday, in this edition, presents a spotlight on some of the veteran delegates to Nigeria’s national conferences and some of the things they stood for.
Professor Jerry Gana
Former minister of information and national orientation, Professor Jerry Gana, born in Lavun local government area of Niger State is one of the delegates to the ongoing national conference. Among many other positions, he has served as member of the Distinguished Elders Committee for Peace and Good Governance.
Considering his long litany of positions in public service and his intellectual gamut, Gana’s contributions are expected to be prominent during the confab, as previously they have been on other national issues. Gana was a delegate to the National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. As usual, this professor cum politician, who hardly ever speaks against any government in power or its policies, has expressed his optimism that the conference will achieve its objectives, in the interest of the country.
HRH Zaiyanu Abdullahi
The emir of Yauri, HRH Zaiyanu Abdullahi is another dignitary not new to national conferences. He participated in the 2005 NPRC, in the capacity of a traditional ruler for the North West.
As he returns to this conference in the same capacity, he is expected not to be bereft of valuable ideas and contributions that will move Nigeria out of the woods, especially by looking at what crippled the previous conference he was a part of. It suffices to say that for delegates like him, this is a time for reflection on the past for the present.
In the NPRC, he was known to have argued that agriculture should be on the concurrent list and that 20 instead of 15 per cent of the total annual budget at all levels of government should be released to agriculture up until 2025. He also argued for the review of the existing laws, policies and reports on the Railways Act of 1958, 1954 and 1999; the Ecological Fund of 15 per cent of the national budget to be increased by 10 per cent for the next 25 years, in order to address holistically the serious ecological and environmental problems of the nation, and for zoning of the presidency between the North and the South.
Chief Richard Akinjide
Chief Richard Akinjide is an old actor on Nigeria’s political stage. He is one of the elder statesmen designated to attend the national conference. Interestingly, Akinjide, who is the father of FCT minister of state, Olajumoke Akinjide, will be attending this conference at the age of 84, but he is still very strong in mind and body.
The legal icon, who was education minister in the First Republic and attorney-general and minister of justice in the Second Republic, was a participant in the NPRC. Then, he served in the Committee on Models and Structure of Government.
Considering his pedigree, Akinjide, who has seen independent Nigeria almost in all of its transformational and evolutionary stages, is definitely needed to diagnose the nation of its political and societal ailments. With elder statesmen like him, the conference may not have any acceptable excuse to fail in its mandate, because as a saying goes, when elders are at home, the she-goat is not allowed to suffer the pains of parturition on its tethers.
Professor Auwalu Yadudu
Professor Auwalu Yadudu is a delegate on a second ‘missionary journey’, having attended the NPRC. This time around, he is riding on the back of North West to the conference, as one of the 15 delegates selected to represent the zone.
Kano-born Yadudu is pessimistic about the outcome of this conference, despite that he is a delegate. His pessimism stems from the feeling that the confab is not coming at a suitable time. He argues that with the scent of 2015 elections in the air, politicians attending the confab might get carried away with pursuing and satisfying their political desires, to the detriment of the real reason for their being there.
Senator Femi Okurounmu
Senator Femi Okurounmu started working to set the ongoing national conference in motion beginning with the necessary preparatory homework. He was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan on October 7 2013, to head a 13-member presidential advisory committee on the conference.
Okurounmu was at the NPRC, where he was the only representative for Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation. He is attending the current conference in the capacity of a South West delegate. Having been in a team that consulted widely with Nigerians in preparation for the confab, there is the tendency that his antennae will be highly sensitive to the topical issues to be discussed.
The former governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili was in the Rivers State delegation to the 1992 Constituent Assembly. He was also elected to the defunct National Constitutional Conference, where he served as chairman, Conference Committee on State Creation.
The 66-year-old Odili was the national secretary of the defunct Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN). He is attending this conference in the category of elder statesmen and his voice is expected to be heard audibly.
King Alfred Diette-Spiff
King Alfred Diette-Spiff, similarly, is not new to public appointments. In 1967, he became the milltary administrator of Rivers State when he was merely 25 years old. Diette-Spiff, the Amayanabo of Twon-Brass in Bayelsa State, was also a member of the 2005 conference. At that confab, he was a member of the Committee on Models and Structure of Government. As an elder statesman at this conference, his expectations must be high, especially for the success of the exercise.
Gen. Ike Nwachukwu
Ike Omar Sanda Nwachukwu, born on September 1 1940, is a retired general of the Nigerian Army and an astute politician who, among several other positions held at national and international levels, has served as foreign affairs minister of Nigeria twice and as a senator in the National Assembly delegation from Abia State where he hails from.
General Ike Nwachukwu was a delegate to the National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) put together by President Olusegun Obasanjo, which had approximately 400 delegates from across the various sections and interests in Nigeria and sat between February and July 2005.
Kimse Okoko is a professor of political science, the national president of the Ijaw National Congress and was one of Bayelsa State’s delegates to the 2005 political reform confab. He led the Bayelsa State delegation to the confab then and is at the ongoing confab as one of the delegates from the South-south.
Okoko and the other delegates from the South-south geo-political zone staged a walkout of the proceedings of the 2005 political reform confab, over a disagreement on the issue of derivation percentage. In an interview after the inglorious end of that confab, he defended their action by saying that the action of the South-south delegates was to prove that the zone was fed-up with the antics of the North and that they could no longer be taken for a ride by what he called “the oligarchal (sic) North”.
Chief Albert Korubo Horsfall (born on December 22, 1941 in Buguma in present-day Rivers State) is a former Nigerian security chief and prominent nationalist. He was one of the conferees from Rivers State, among other South-south delegates that represented the region at the 2005 political reform conference. He, along with the other delegates from the region resolved to ensure that 25 per cent derivation formula was approved for the region in the sharing of the revenue that accrues from petroleum resources.
Albert Horsfall was a policeman and pioneer member of the National Security Organisation (NSO). He was the first director general (DG) of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the 5th DG of the State Security Service (SSS) and the pioneer chairman of the Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), where he facilitated the employment of President Goodluck Jonathan – his first appearance in public service.
Lieutenant General Jeremiah Timbut Useni (rtd) was born on February 16 1943, in Langtang, Plateau State. He is a graduate of British Army Apprentices College, India, where his military career, that saw him serve in several top positions, was shaped.
He was among the delegates at the 2005 Political Reform Conference, convened by then president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Useni was vocal at that conference and was one of those who championed the cause of the North-central geo-political zone, but presented informally as the Middle Belt.
He is once again a delegate to the 2014 National Conference and knowing his antecedents, he will most likely generate lots of interest as the conference progresses.
With his experience in the military, Useni is one of those whose words will be highly respected during the three-month long dialogue. .
Aliyu Akwe Doma
Aliyu Akwe Doma, governor of Nasarawa State from 2007 to 2011, was born on September 1 1942, in Doma LGA, Nasarawa State. He attended the University of Ibadan from 1964 to1966, the British Drama League, London, England in 1968 and the World Tourism Organisation Centre for Advanced Tourism Studies, Turin, Italy in 1973.
This widely read Nigerian attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1976 and Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma in 2002, where he obtained a Master’s degree in Public Administration.
Doma will have the advantage of experience at the 2014 National Conference, based on his previous participation at the 2005 Political Reform Conference.
John Dara is the chairman, Africa Development Investment Ltd. and president, Chancellor House Ltd Education Entrepreneurs. With his pedigree, which was responsible for his successfully managing six chairmanship and many councillorship aspirants in non-party local government elections in Lagos State in 1987, he is one of those to watch at the 2014 National Conference.
With experience gained from participating in the 2005 Political Reform Conference, Dara is expected to be a game changer at this year’s conference. His charisma and influence are also expected to be of additional advantage for him.
Former governor of Katsina State Alhaji Sai’du Barda is another to watch out for at the 2014 National Conference.
During the December 1991 election for governor of Katsina State, Barda defeated Umaru Yar’Adua, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate. Umaru’s elder brother, General Shehu Yar’Adua, then a prominent politician with a presidential ambition failed to give his full backing to Umaru’s bid. Barda was favoured by the military president at the time, General Ibrahim Babangida. Barda supported Babangida’s annulment of the June 12 1993 election of MKO Abiola as president. The political struggles that followed the annulment led to the coup in which General Sani Abacha took power in November 1993, when all elected governors were dismissed.
Chief Edwin K. Clark
Chief Edwin K. Clark, the leader of the South-South Peoples Assembly, chaired the 4th General Conference of the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly on Monday February 12, 2014. The conference comprised over 200 delegates from the geo-political zones of southern Nigeria.
Clark was at the NPRC, which ended in futility. A former minister of information who commands a lot of influence in the South-South, he has expressed belief that the conference will produce a good outcome and sustain the unity of the country.
Professor Jubril Aminu
The former minister of petroleum, minister of education and former Nigerian ambassador to the United States of America is an experienced participant at national and international conferences that border on education and national economy.
At the conference of the African National Academies, to ensure beneficial impact of academia institutes on development in Africa, Jubril Aimnu was part of the panel of discussion on how science academia could serve national interest. The panel and general resolutions of the conference cited that African governments should streamline financing of local academies by including them in the national budget and releasing funds to them in good time, to facilitate research.
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