Senator faults National Conference, says foundation ‘undemocratic’

The Ekiti lawmaker faulted the basis of the conference

The Vice chairman of Senate Committee on Interior, Olubunmi Adetunmbi, has faulted the convening of the National Conference by the Federal Government and has described it as an exercise in futility in light of gaping demerits in entire process leading to the convocation.

The lawmaker, representing Ekiti North senatorial district, who made this assertion in Abuja to journalists highlighted some loopholes in the exercise in particular, the selection of delegates, the lack of legal framework for the conference and the partisan origination of the conference. He noted that the lack of a durable legal and democratic foundation for the conference had already put a pall on the success of the exercise.

In a statement signed by his media aide, Tosin Omoniyi, he also noted that the overbearing influence of the executive and the sidelining of the National Assembly in the decisions leading to the convening had already defeated any possible gains of the conference.

“The idea is a laudable one in itself. I agree that we as a nation need to dialogue on certain issues that concern us as an entity but the process leading to the convening of the conference is faulty and except the right things are done the possibility of success is minimal. For one, there is a problem with the timing of the conference which is suspicious. Such a weighty discussion must be properly timed. This is not so in view of its conflict with the forthcoming elections in Ekiti and Osun states and the 2015 general elections. Questions must be asked why the conference is being done at this particular time when the federal government has credibility and poor performance challenges.

“Also I am not comfortable with the fact that the convener of the conference is an interested party that has a huge stake in the decisions expected to be reached at this gathering. How are we sure that he would be able to absolve himself of bias and would not seek to manipulate the entire process? Don’t forget that the conference was called by the executive fiat of the originator who is the selector of the moderator, the deputy and the scribe of the conference among other delegates that he appoints to the conference. Going by the delegate selection process and the structure it is obvious that the conference would not be free from manipulations from the convener.”

The statement added: ‘Also there is no legal framework for the entire process and this is worrisome as that serves as the foundation for the success of such an enterprise. We need to look at the origination of the conference and find out if it has any legal basis. The manner of selection of the delegates is suspect and calls for scrutiny. It is not democratic. The appointment of the delegates is tele-guided entirely by the executive and this will not engender popular confidence and objectivity. Much more disturbing for me is the fact that we will soon have a constituent assembly that is not democratically elected but appointed by the executive and its cohorts who will seek to push for laws that constitutionally are expected to be enacted by a referendum or the elected parliament.’

He said that while the concept of a national conference is good in its own merits, the process leading to it is faulty and thus the conference would not yield any benefits for democracy unless the Nigerian people are allowed to make their contributions to national growth and development which can only come about through democratic and an established legal foundation.

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