National Conference: Delegates begin discussion of draft report Thursday

Delegates to the National Conference on Wednesday reconvened at the National Judicial Institute in Abuja, venue of the Conference, to begin the process of certifying the draft report prepared by the Conference Secretariat.

Each delegate arrived the Conference hall armed with huge files of the resolutions captured in two volumes and another volume containing proposed alterations to the 1999 Constitution as adopted by the Conference.

However, the sitting lasted for just a few minutes as the leadership of the Conference, led by the Chairman and retired Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Kutigi, announced plans for accelerated handling of final approval of the draft resolutions.

The Chairman, flanked by his deputy, Bolaji Akinyemi,a professor, the Conference Secretary, Valerie-Jenete Azinge and the other three principal officers, delightfully welcomed the delegates back to the Conference.

He apologized for the postponement of resumption from August 4 to August 11, explaining that it was due to the enormous work that needed to be done to ensure the completion of the draft resolutions.

Mr. Kutugi reassured delegates of the inviolability of the draft resolutions; adding: “If there are any errors, they are human errors and not an attempt by the leadership to any play game.”

He further stated that the draft reports of the Conference prepared by the Secretariat were done “to the best of our ability and with all honesty and diligence”.

However, he said, as humans, there could be noticeable errors that would be corrected if brought to the attention of the secretariat.

“Any mistake is due to human error and can be corrected,” he said.

The chairman said in line with the resolution of the Conference, the reports were prepared to cover constitutional issues based on amendments agreed upon by the delegates; policy issues meant for implementation by the President; and legislative issues earmarked for enactment into laws by the National Assembly.

Justice Kutigi explained that the copy labeled “draft constitution” contained the various alterations and amendments to the 1999 Constitution “proposed by you”.

After the brief address, delegates applauded the chairman, signifying their agreement with his explanation and readiness to discuss and approve the draft reports.

Justice Kutigi immediately went ahead to spell out the procedure to be adopted by the Conference for consideration and approval of the different reports.

He said after considering several options towards resolving issues emanating from the reports within the shortest possible time and without problems, the leadership came to the conclusion that the smooth but detailed method adopted in handling committees’ reports should be applied.

He said all groups and individuals should study the report and diligently write out areas that needed to be corrected and submit them to the Conference Secretariat for compilation and presentation to the Conference when delegates reconvene on Thursday.

The Chairman said when such comments are compiled, they would be read out on the floor and would either be adopted or rejected by the Conference in plenary for final adoption of the report.

To further enhance and smoothen the process of approving the draft report prepared by the Secretariat, the Chairman summoned a meeting of leaders of delegation from the geo-political zones to discuss certain critical issues.

Both proposals were unanimously accepted by the Conference in plenary without any objection while delegates agreed to meet again on Thursday to practically begin the process of approving the reports.

Before adjourning the session, Justice Kutigi announced the presence of a new delegate, Supo Shonibare, who replaced Olaniwun Ajayi from the South West; and the death of Professor Mohammed Nur Alkali.

During separate meetings with the leaders of the northern and southern delegation, the Conference management was commended for producing a magnificent report within a short space of them.

Akpandem James

Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications

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