Dissenters say conference may end up in futility
The Conference for Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP, has faulted the guidelines for the proposed National Conference announced on Thursday by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Pius Anyim.
The group said the slot given to political parties was “unfair and inadequate.”
According to the schedule of modalities for the National Conference, the country’s 25 registered political parties would be represented by five parties, which have representation at the National Assembly.
The parties – Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, All Progressives Congress, APC, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Labour Party, LP, and Accord Party – will present two delegates each bringing the number of representatives to 10.
CNPP, in a statement on Friday by its spokesperson, Osita Okechukwu said though not much would be achieved by the conference because of the timing, it was surprised that the political parties, which represented various tendencies, were given only few slots.
“It is very unfair that only five out of the 25 registered parties were allocated 10 delegates while the president is to nominate 25 percent of the total delegates. Whereas, we are aware that not much will be achieved by the conference, given the timing. However, we are still at a loss how 20 political parties that represent various tendencies in the country were denied the opportunity to contribute their quota in a national conference,” CNPP said.
The group appealed to the government to correct the anomaly before the conference commences.
Also in a statement on Friday, the National Chairman of the United Progressives Party, UPP, Chekwas Okorie, said the modalities announced by the government fell short of the expectations of most Nigerians.
He said well-meaning Nigerians and groups had expected that delegates to the conference would be dominated by representatives of various ethnic nationalities drawn from six geo-political zones of Nigeria on the basis of equality of the zones.
He regretted that instead the proposed conference would be dominated by persons to be appointed by government, government agencies, associations and professional bodies where government still had overriding influence.
“This country is made up of ethnic nationalities which were clobbered together by the British colonial masters without any form of consultation. The National Conference that will restore people’s confidence in a united Nigeria ought to have been convened around the ethnic nationalities as major and critical stakeholders,” Mr. Okorie said.
The UPP national chairman said he was worried at the government’s approved method at decisions at the conference, which is that where there is no consensus on any issue, 75 percent of the delegates shall be the required number to pass such issue.
“This is not satisfactory at all. What this means is that if majority of the delegates want a particular decision adopted by the Conference, that majority will lose out to the minority simply because they do not number up to 75 per cent,” he stated. “We shall end up having a situation where the dissenting 26 per cent of the delegates will have their way while 74 per cent of the assenting delegates will only have their say. This is a clear recipe for the failure of the Conference.”
Mr. Okorie also faulted government’s plan to have the decisions reached at the confab incorporated in the Constitution, saying it was a clear deceit towards the Nigerian people who welcomed President Goodluck Jonathan’s initiative for a conference.
He said Nigerians expected nothing short of a brand new constitution that would go through a referendum as a pre-condition for it to be promulgated into law.
He said, “To incorporate that outcome of this Convention into the existing unaccepted and flawed 1999 Constitution will amount to an exercise in futility because it would only mean that a whopping N7 billion will be spent on mere proposals for constitutional amendment.”
Mr. Okorie accused the president of reneging on his promise to Nigerians in his October 2013 Independence broadcast that there would be no-go areas during the conference.
“What we have seen is that, that commitment to Nigerians has been reneged on. This is really unfortunate. It is a pity that this Government is unwittingly playing itself into the hands of its detractors in the matter of the proposed National Conference,” the UPP national chairman said.
Also, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior, Olubunmi Adetumbi, faulted government’s plan to convene the national conference, saying it would be an exercise in futility in the light of gaping demerits in the entire process to the convocation.
In a statement by aide, Tosin Omoniyi, the All Progressives Congress, APC, senator pointed out some loopholes in the exercise, which include the selection of delegates, the lack of legal framework for the conference and the partisan origination of the conference.
According to him, the lack of durable legal and democratic foundation for the conference had already put a pall on the success of the exercise.
He said 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,” Mr. Adetumbi said.
He questioned the timing of the conference, citing 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?” Mr. Adetunmbi asked.
The senator, who represents Ekiti North Senatorial District, said the conference was called by the executive fiat of the originator, who would be the selector of its moderator, the deputy and the scribe, among other delegates. According to him, going by the selection process and the structure it was obvious that the conference would not be free from manipulations from the convener, President Jonathan.