Protests trail composition of Nigerian National Conference Committees


Protests dominated yesterday’s proceedings as delegates complained about procedures and the composition of Committees.

Youths, women, traditional rulers all aired their disagreement with the commission of the committees, despite the release of an addendum list which they claimed was also inadequate.

Youths in the conference, numbering 18 felt disadvantaged at being excluded from four sensitive committees.

According to Clifford Abur, it was disheartening that the Nigerian youths that have identified the Conference as an opportunity to contribute to nation building and correct the negative impressions about the youths.

Citing Security Committee, devolution of power as instances where no youth delegate was represented, he said the youths have been identified as foot soldiers for the crimes and securoty breaches around the country like violence, kidnapping, bombing and other vices.

According to him, it would be an injustice for the youth to be denied the opportunity of contributing to such key Committees work that touches on the future of the country.

He said the youths were not satisfied with the list.

He had to offer formal apology to the Chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi having addressed the Chair in harsh voice and threatening a youth action if corrections were not made in favour of the youths.

Women in the conference also protested for not being evenly spread among the Committees, in addition to not being given enough leadership positions in the Committees.

According to Rabi Ibrahim, being lumped in one Committee would not serve the best interest of the women and their individual expertise.

Ramatu Bala Usman, who advocated for 35 percent affirmative action in the leadership of the Committees for women said equity should be observed by the Secretariat.

Hajia Mariam Bubba was against the Chairmanship of some Committees by old politicians, whom she said had headed similar Committees in previous conferences without having anything to show for it.

On her part, Akiyode Afolabi kicked against designation of some as ‘super delegates’ for being placed in their choice Committees.

She also complained about the Chair of Civil Society Committee that was headed by a woman that has never worked in the labour sector before.

Traditional rulers also voiced their grievances of being confined in areas where they can offer useful suggestions.

Oba Aderemi Adedapo said to have lumped all the traditional rulers in one Committee was a deservice to the individual expertise of the monarchs.

According to him, there are several professionals among the traditional rulers and their experience would be useful if spread to other committees.

Femi Falana also complained about the inadequacy in the composition of the committees, citing the exclusion of the youth delegates from fundamental committees.

He also raised the issue of preferential treatment for some heads of delegation in picking their choice of committee.

He said being a head of delagation, he was never accorded such treatment.

However, Falana advised that those with genuine concerns about the Committees should formally address it to the Secretariat for necessary correction so that proper committee business would commence by Tuesday.

The Chairman, denied Falana’s allegation of preferential treatment.

He said the Secretarial worked with list submitted by all the delegates while urging those with complaints to make them available on time for the Secretariat to work before Tuesday.

The Chairman announced that Committee session would commenced on Tuesday with 10 Committees holding their sessions in the National Judicial Institute (NJI) venue of the conferemce and the other 10 holding theirs at Sheraton Hotel and Towers.

Earlier it was announced that Amb Abdulmumin Abubakar that slumpedon Tuesday evening is in a stable condition.

Delegates used the opportunity to demand for a functional medical facility in the complex having been told that the ambulance that conveyed Amb Abubakar has no oxygen.

Justice Kutigi said there was a clinic in the complex but knew nothing about oxygen.

Earlier, Justice Mamman Nasir (rtd) raised a motion of urgent public importance on the need for the conference to raise a delegation to meet and advise President Goodluck Jonathan on how to disregard disparaging statement aimed at him by governors and others.

According to him, the President should no longer join issues with governors that were against him.

He said the situation the country is in at the moment should be of concern to everyone and that exchanging words with governors would rather distract the President.

He said the President should be more tolerant and patient witb those against him being the leader of the country.

Sergeant Awuse, while seconding the motion advised those that were hauling expletives on the President to desist.

Besides, the President should be respected by the governors, if they expect respect from their own citizens too, he added.

However, in the midst of.arguement for and against on procedural defects of the motion observed by some delegtes, plenary went on to other matters without voting on the motion.

The Chairman however had to use his authority to overrule delgates that clamoured for adjournment till Tuesday, 22nd rather than today.

He had problem finding who to second the motion for adjournment till today until she asked Iyom Josephine Anenih, who said she seconded it according to the Chairman’s wish.