Afenifere, Ohaneze, others differ on National Conference duration

Some groups feel three months is not enough

Various groups including the Afenifere, Ohaneze, Arewa Youth and Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, on Thursday held different views on the tentative three-month period announced for the National Conference.

The Federal Government had earlier in the day announced the modalities for the conference, saying that a tentative period of three months had been agreed on as duration for the conference.

According to a statement from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, the delegates for the conference would be nominated from January 30 to February 20.

In a reaction, Yinka Odumakin, the spokesperson for the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, said that the three-month period was enough for the conference.

“Three months is enough time for Nigerians to dialogue as long as there is sincerity of purpose. It is only when there is no clarity of purpose that people can say three months is short for the conference.” Mr. Odumakin said.

The spokesperson for Ohaneze Ndigbo, Tonnie Ogannah, also said that a three month period was enough. According to him, there have been several conferences in the past on the issues concerning Nigerians as a people.

“Three months is enough for people to present their memoranda, and discuss it,” he said.

However, Wale Okuniyi, the spokesman for the Pro-National Conference, PRONACO, said the period would not be enough to take all agitation and agree on them.

“Three months is not enough for profound national consultation and negotiation. There will be disagreements and agreements and more time will be needed to get every group to come to a consensus,” Mr. Okuniyi said.

He urged the Federal Government to consult more on the duration of the conference.

Similarly, the Founder of the Oodua Peoples Conference, OPC, Fredrick Fasehun, said that a maximum of six months was needed for the conference.

“Three months is grossly insufficient. I appeal to the government to give at least six months to enable people exhaust all agitations,” Mr. Fasehun said.

The President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, Yerima Shettima, said the duration was not an issue.

“What should matter most is what will happen to the outcome of the conference. For Nigerians to have confidence in the conference, government must come out to agree that there should be a referendum after the conference. The government should agree that its outcome will not be subjected to ratification by the National Assembly,” the AYCF leader said.

The Federal Government, releasing the modalities for the conference, had said there would be 492 delegates participating.

Mr. Anyim said that the president, after long deliberations on the report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue, accepted that the conference should tentatively last for three months.

“The conference shall discuss any subject matter except the indivisible and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation, therefore, the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable. A conference management secretariat shall be established to manage, administer and run the affairs of the conference. Decision at the national conference shall be by consensus, but where it is not achievable, it shall be by 75 per cent majority,” he said.


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