National Conference: Rules Guiding Proceedings Divide Delegates

Channels Television  
Updated March 24, 2014

National-Conference-delegatesA rule in the draft book of the National Conference holding in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on how a decision will be taken on any issue divided delegates on Monday.

In the first major debate on ‘order 6 rule 4’ which proposes a three-quarter majority -75 per cent – for a decision to be taken, the delegates failed to reach a consensus after some delegates said the number was too high.

The division came when the chairman of the conference, Justice Idris Kutigi tried to overrule a suggestion of a delegate, Mike Ozekomhe, for the amendment of the rule to make a two-third majority vote sufficient for any decision to be arrived at, saying it is the same position with the Nigerian constitution and global best practices.

Ozekomhe had argued that it was against natural justice and the interest of the Nigeria for decisions to be made by only a few persons at the conference, insisting that two-third majority is more realistic than 75 per cent.

“Under the provision for 75 per cent for any dissenting voice to get anything done here, it would be very difficult for anything to be achieved. We should therefore go back to the normal practice of two third majority when it comes to voting on any matter.

“What this means is that for any decision to be taken no fewer than 369 of the 492 delegates must concur before such can be done. This is behemoth and extremely difficult given our situation in this country,” Mr Ozekomhe, who is also a lawyer, stressed.

Justice Kutigi pointed out that the consensus of 75 per cent voting had already been decided by the Presidency and that the matter had been closed.

“We cannot change the rule of voting which had already been decided by the President, who set the tone for this conference; the issue has been closed,” the chairman stated, countering the suggestion.

Some of the delegates disagreed with Justice Kutigi, insisting that the rule should be reconsidered and amended to comply with the Nigerian Constitution.

A former Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Hassam Adamu and a former Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Gambo Jimeta, both from Adamawa State, supported the stipulations by the presidency, saying that the 75 per cent voting majority was a right decision.

Despite the attempt by Kutigi to rule that the matter had been closed, more delegates kicked against it, forcing the the chairman to defer discussion on the issue.

Another rule which proposes that the chairman of the conference will appoint chairmen and deputy chairman of committees that will be set up, was also strongly contested by some delegates.

After some minutes debate on the issue, it was eventually amended to reflect that committee members will pick their chairmen.

Delegates had earlier complained about the tedious process to get into the venue of the conference, leading to a short adjournment.

The conference’s plenary adjourned to Tuesday at 10:00am with delegates expected to conclude consideration of the draft rules and begin work in earnest.