Updated: Why Nigerian Government approved Confab’s 4 weeks extension

Chairman of the National Conference: Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Kutigi .... Photo: Courtesy www.nigeriaa2z.com

Mr. Kutigi said their request became necessary owing to the workload ahead of the delegates.

The Federal Government granted the National Conference four weeks extension to enable delegates more time to debate the reports of its 20 committees and come out with far reaching recommendations.

The Confab was originally scheduled to come to an end on June 17; but Conference Chairman, Idris Kutigi, informed the delegates on Thursday that he led a delegation of the Confab secretariat to meet with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, on Wednesday night to seek for six weeks extension.

Mr. Kutigi said their request became necessary owing to the workload ahead of the delegates.

The government, however, only approved a four weeks extension, meaning the conference would cost Nigeria at least an extra N1.5 billion as each of the 490 delegates gets paid about N3 million monthly.

The Confab, which went on a short break during the World Economic Forum for Africa summit held in Abuja earlier in the month, will now end on July 17.

However, Mr. Kutigi informed delegates after his announcement that he believed four weeks was still not enough going by the workload faced by delegates.

He then asked whether delegates were ready to work on Fridays and Saturdays which were their normal free days.
The delegates rejected the chairman’s suggestion.

He therefore called for inputs from the delegates on how best to utilise the four weeks and conclude all issues before the confab.

In his contribution, Bello Mohammed suggested that if delegates keep to time and the confab session is anchored with discipline and only recommendations are taken one after the other, sittings can be concluded even before the end of June.

On her part, Esther Gonda from Plateau State suggested that the two hours lunch break between 2 and 4 p.m. be shortened to one hour.

Mike Ozekhome concurred that the break time should be shortened by one hour and also suggested that resumption time should now be 9 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. He also called for the reduction in the time allotted each delegate to speak from five minutes to three.

Ibrahim Bunu, while speaking, argued that some of the committees’ reports are contentious, and advised that all contentious issues should be taken back to the committee for resolutions.

Nnamdi Eriobuna from the Senators Forum observed that the issues before the conference were critical and there is the need to take time to exhaust them.

“We are not here to play. It is in the best interest to find solutions to those issues. We should work judiciously to work it out. We must make sure that all the work is done properly. Hurrying up will not help us.”

Fola Adeola, however, raised a point of order from Order 9 of the confab procedure rules which states that “at plenary sessions each representative body shall speak through a delegate nominated by the representative body through its leadership.”

He urged delegates to abide by that provision in the rule book and speak through their leaders saying that would reduce the time of the conference.

Obi Anoliofo of the House of Reps Forum argued that the conference is not in need of any extra time.
“If we work assiduously and dedicatedly we can exhaust all the contentious issues,” he said.

In her contribution, Felicia Sani representing Market Women said that sittings should start by 9 a.m. and end by 7 p.m. each day.

At the end of the contributions, the conference chairman ruled that sittings would begin at 9 a.m. and end by 6:00 p.m. from May 26.


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