Northern delegates take battle to kill conference report to National Assembly

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Jul 21st, 2014
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There are plans [to kill the final report of the National Conference.

Northern delegates met at a highbrow hotel in Abuja at the weekend to ensure that the report does not see the light of day.

The conference, which ended abruptly last week, is to review and adopt its report on August 4, preparatory for presentation to President Goodluck Jonathan.

A former Senator, a woman, “is the arrow head” of the conferees who met and resolved to “seek the understanding” of senators and House of Representatives members from the North to scuttle the report.

The senator, a source said, is “peeved that the South would gain some mileage if the report of the conference is implemented as proposed”.

Part of the strategies adopted at the meeting, the source said, is to “aggressively pursue enlistment of support of Northern members of the National Assembly to scrutinise the report to ensure that portions considered to be against the interest of the North are blocked from being ratified.”

The meeting, said to have been held on Friday, was said to have lasted till the early Saturday.

Delegates who attended the meeting were mandated to use the opportunity of the annual recess of the National Assembly to reach out to the lawmakers.

Although the conference made some landmark resolutions, it failed to agree on derivation and revenue sharing formula.

The conference advised the federal government to set up a technical committee to resolve the issues.

Local government administration, state police, derivation principle, land tenure, state creation, pilgrimage and alleged new constitution almost broke the conference.

As disagreement simmered, some Northern delegates were pointedly accused of working to break the conference.

Northern delegates were particularly uncomfortable with the resolution to have local government administration transferred from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislate list.

They also bickered over the recommendation to empower states that desire it to create their own police.

Part of their argument was that most Northern states cannot afford to fund state police.

Some of the Northern delegates also expressed concerns over the resolution to create additional 18 states, with a special one for the southeast zone.

The most contested conference report was the Devolution of Power report. Its committee was co-chaired by former Akwa Ibom Governor Obong Victor Attah and former Inspector General of Police Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie.

Coomasie, leader of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), led Northern delegates to the conference.

Most of the recommendations made by the Committee on Devolution of Power were adopted by the conferees but derivation principle was contentious.

To resolve the issue, the conference secretariat allowed time for mediation by leaders of the six geo-political zones which resolved that the derivation benchmark be raised to “not less than 18 percent”.

The leaders also proposed that five per cent of the Consolidated revenue fund should be set aside for reconstruction of insurgency ravaged North east geo-political zone, with a proviso that the fund be made open to every state where terrorists caused destruction, beginning with the Northeast.

Northern delegates opposed the generalization of the fund and insisted that the five per cent insurgency fund should be specifically Northeast, Northwest and Northcentral geo-political zones.

Southeast and southwest delegates said that the fund should take care of every state where terrorism had occurred.

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