This, he said on Channels Television, in spite of the series of unresolved arguments delaying the take-off of real deliberations on national issues, two weeks into the conference’s inauguration.
He explained that having brought 492 people with different backgrounds and orientations together to deliberate on ideas to move the country forward, “It is expected that there would be conflicts, disagreements, fears, worries and I think the secretariat of the conference are doing their best to see how to resolve these differences.”
Okeke, like many other Nigerians, however, also has issues with the composition of delegates at the conference, complaining that the selection process was not transparent but he believes that what was most important was “getting them to do the right things.”
He agreed with the school of thought that the generation of delegates was too old.
“I think there is something wrong with having old people represent a country that is now populated by more young people. It doesn’t make sense, especially when you take into consideration, the fact that some of these old people have ideas that they’ve concretized and that’s going to be very difficult for them to change.”
On the view that the Nigerian youth who is known to have been starved of quality education for decades, lacked the intellectual capacity to provide quality contribution at the National Conference, Okeke said that indeed there is a question mark on the ability of the youths to provide meaningful contributions, especially considering the way the National Association of Nigerian Students and the National Youth Council have been in crisis.
He, however, said that his support of more youth representation was based on fairness and the fact that they have a greater stake in the discussions. He also admitted that the youths have performed below the standards of the older generation in their youth, but this would not change the fact that Nigerians between age 25 and 45 were not well represented at the National Conference.
He added that there were still very intelligent youths who could add value but only needed a platform to come together.
Mr. Okeke did not see any need for controversies on the voting requirement at the conference. The Constitutional Law Analyst said that he had sat down to do the mathematics of comparing the 75% requirement to the two-thirds requirement and he really did not find much difference as it amounted to just a difference of 41 votes.
He noted that even getting the lesser two-thirds would still be a challenge. “Getting 328 people to agree on an issue is still going to be a challenge.
“If I were to advise, I would simply say they should revert to the modalities for the conference. I think what the President had in mind was a conference that would come up with a recommendation that would be based on consensus.”
He believed that with time, the delegates would begin to understand one another and realize that “it is not a winner takes all (situation) or (that of) one group trying to outdo the other.”
Okeke, in this interview, also reacted to the threat by one of the delegates, and also the Lamido of Adamawa, who said “If you push us to wall, we can easily walk out of this country.”
“For me, I’m a bit disappointed that a traditional ruler would take this kind of position. I would have expected that he would be a bit more circumspect in the things he said”, Okeke said.