OPC leaders differ on proposed national conference

Factional leaders make counter suggestions

Factional leaders of the Odua Peoples Congress, OPC, Fredrick Fasheun, and Gani Adams, have disagreed over the legality of setting up the proposed national conference.

The two leaders aired their differences at the second south west interactive session of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue, which held in Lagos on Friday.

Joining other civil groups and organisations to proffer suggestions on the modalities of setting up the conference, the two OPC leaders disagreed on the need for the National Assembly to enact a bill to legalise the conference.

Mr Fasheun, in his brief presentation, urged the committee to ask President Goodluck Jonathan to draft a bill on the conference, which would be legalised by the National Assembly.

Some other organisations also made similar demands, saying that legalising the conference would make it impossible for the lawmakers to tamper with the conference’s outcome.

However, Mr Adams, who leads a splinter group of OPC, bluntly objected to the suggestions of his former boss.

”I clearly disagree with our counterpart on the demand that a bill should be sent to the National Assembly before the conference, to legalise it.

”Eighty percent of those in the National Assembly do not want a National Conference; this means that the conference is already dead, if we ask them to legitimise it before it starts,” he explained.

Mr Adams, however, expressed his support for the Mr Jonathan’s plan to forward the conference’s outcome to the National Assembly for ratification.

Another issue that pitched the OPC leaders against each other was the participation of political parties in the conference.

Mr Fasheun suggested that government officials and political parties should have no representation at the conference, but the younger OPC leader wanted the parties to attend.

Political parties are not allowed to attend the conference, they will be throwing stones at it because they have all the machinery to disrupt it,” Mr Adams said, referring to the massive financial war chest assembled by some political parties in Nigeria.

“They should all be called to attend the conference and any party that does not want to attend, should opt out,” he added.

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A known, outspoken dissenter of the conference is opposition party, All Progressives Congress.

One of the common recommendations at the interactive session was a demand for a bill that would send the conference outcome to a referendum, whose result must then be promulgated by the National Assembly without any amendments or reform.

Another, suggested that ethnic groups that did not agree with the conference outcome or sought to break away should be let go.

However, there were divergent views on the selection procedure for the conference delegates.

Organisations/groups that attended the interactive session included Afenifere, Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Yoruba National Assembly, Yoruba Unity Forum, Coalition of Odua self-determination group and Campaign for Democracy.

President Goodluck Jonathan, during his speech commemorating the nation’s 53rd independence anniversary, had announced the setting up of a 12-member committee to advise him on modalities of organising a national conference, which several socio-political groups have long clamoured.

Suggestions on the timeline of the planned conference range from six to nine months, to give room for the 2015 general elections.

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