Let the conference be now – Part 2
The Committee is encouraged to engage in comparative studies without ignoring the realities and specificities as well as the historical experiences of Nigeria. It is my hope that the Conference will feel free to invite any individual or group that may or may not be represented at this conference but has a submission or presentation to make.
Do not allow your souls and thoughts to be contaminated by negative ideas and do not allow your honesty and integrity to be compromised by extraneous and inimical influences and temptations. Be steadfast, patriotic, hardworking, and focused on your goals at all times”.
Four hundred and two delegates attended the Conference held between February and July 2005. Copies of the report of that Conference are today in the office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation.
The Conference was followed by another Conference convened by President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, on February 28, 2014. There were four hundred and ninety-two delegates. President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, appointed a thirteen-member Presidential Advisory committee headed by Senator Femi Okunronmu to prepare for the Conference. The other members of the committee, inaugurated on October 7, 2013, by the president were Akilu Indabawa (Secretary), Khairat Gwabade, Timothy Adudu, Olufunke Adeboye, George Obiozor, Solomon Asemota, Abubakar Mohammed, Bukhar Bello, Tony Uranta, Tony Nyaim (who later resigned), Dauda Birma, and Mairo Amshi.
The panel was tasked to advise the government on the framework of national dialogue by consulting widely with Nigerians. It was also asked to come up with an appropriate name/nomenclature for the proposed national dialogue.
The 2014 National Conference was inaugurated by President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on 17 March 2014 in Abuja. There were about 492 delegates that represented a cross-section of Nigerians including the professional bodies group. Following a plenary session that lasted for weeks, the Conference was broken into 20 committees that included Public Finance and Revenue among others. Principal Officers of the Conference were Chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi (rtd), Vice Chairman Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi Secretary Dr Valerie Azinge.
Main Committees: Devolution of Power Committee, Political Restructuring, and Forms of Government National Security; Environment; Politics and Governance; Law, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Reform. Social Welfare; Transportation; Agriculture; Society, Labour and Sports; Public Service; Electoral Matters, Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters, Land Tenure Matters, and National Boundary. Trade and Investment Committee, Energy; Religion; Public Finance and Revenue Generation, Science, Technology, and Development Immigration.
Prominent people who attended the Conference were Aremo Olusegun Osoba, Senator Musa Adede, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Richard Akinjide, Chief Olu Falae, Chief Afe Babalola, General Ike Nwachukwu, Iyom Josephine Anenih, Senator Jim Nwobodo, Chief Mike Ahamba, Senator Azu Agboti, Chief Peter Odili, King Alfred Diete Spiff, Edwin K. Clark, Daisy Danjuma, Prof. Evara Ejemot Esu, Chief Nduese Essien, Prof. Ambrose Okwoli, Alhaji Abdulahi Ohoimah, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Mr. Dogara Mark Ogbole, Prof. Jerry Gana, Gen. Jonathan Temlong, Prof. Jibril Aminu, Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Muazu, Arc. Ibrahim Bunu, Amb. Yerima Abdullahi, Mr. John Mamman, Alhaji Adamu Waziri, Alhaji Umaru Musa Zandan, Prof. Mohammed Jumari, Mallam Tanko Yakassai, Senator Ibrahim Idah, Hon. Justice Usman Mohammed Argungu, Prof. Sambo Jinadu, Ishia Aliyu Gusau, General A. B. Mamman, Gen. Zamani Lekwot, Maj. Gen. Alex Mshelbwala, Brig. Gen. DO Idada-Ikponmwen, Group Capt Ohadomere, Gen. Raji Rasaki, R. O. Osanaiye, AIG (rtd), Alh. Mamman Misau, AIG (rtd), Alhaji Bashiru Albasu, AIG (rtd.), Chief Nicholas Nkemdeme, CP (rtd), Barr. J. I. Ebinum, DCP (rtd), Barr. Samuel Adetuyi, CP (rtd), Chief Jeremiah Okwuonu, A. K. Horsfall, Mr. Iliya Danga, Chief Babatunde Ala, Amb. B. M. Sani and Amb. J. K. Shinkaiye. Others were His Royal Highnesses, Alh. Dr. Zayyanu Abdullahi, Emir of Yauri, Alh. (Dr.) Nuhu Mohammed Sanusi, Emir of Dutse, Dr. Muhammadu Barkindo Mustapha, CFR, Lamido of Adamawa, Alh. Abdullahi Ibn Muhammad Askirama III, Emir of Askira, Alh. Sulu Gambari, CFR, Emir of Ilorin, Elder Jacob Gyang Buba, Gbong Gwom Jos, Oba Michael Gbadebo Adedeji, JP, CON, Ariyowonye Lim Owaoye of Okemesi,His Royal Majesty, Oba Arc. Aderemi A. Adedapo, Alayemore of Ido Osun, His Royal Highness, Eze (Dr) Cletus I. Illomuanya, Obi of Obinugwu, His Royal Highness, Eze Elder Agom Eze, OON, Dr. Edmund Daukuro, FNSE, Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom, Chief Nosakhare Isekhure, Chief Priest of Benin Kingdom and HRM Ismail Danlami Mohammed, Sarki of Karshi.
The idea of holding a National Conference when in crisis is not new in Nigeria.
I remember a conference was summoned by the then Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, less than sixty-five days after he took overpower. The conference met between September 12 and 28 and again between October 28 and November 4, 1966. At that time there were four regions in Nigeria, mainly the North, Mid-Western, West, and Eastern regions. No delegation from the East attended the second session of the conference because of the political situation at that time. Sixteen major issues were discussed at that conference. These were the form of government and component units, Head of State, Central government, Central legislature, Judiciary, Central civil service, Finance (power to raise revenue, the allocation of revenue and national debt), Defence, Police, External affairs, Immigration and emigration, Banking, currency, monetary policy, external loans, Transport and Communications, Higher Education, Concurrent powers and Planning (including the equitable distributions of capital investment).
The Northern delegation included Sir Kashim Ibrahim, Alhaji Inua Wada, Mallam Aminu Kano, Chief Joseph Sawuan Tarka, Alhaji Abdul Razak, and Chief Josiah Sunday Olawoyin. The Lagos delegation included Alhaji Femi Okunnu and Alhaji Lateef Jakande. The Eastern delegation was led by Professor Eni Njoku. Other members from the East include Chief C.C. Mojekwu, Chief E. Eyo, and Chief Matthew Mbu. The Midwest delegation was led by Chief Anthony Enahoro, and comprised Dr. Mudiaga Oge. The Western delegation was led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo,GCFR, and it included Professor Hezekiah Oluwasannmi, assisted by Professors Ayo Ogunseye, Sam Aluko, and Akin Mabogunje.
That is not to say a conference will solve all our problems, but it will give us a platform for us to exchange ideas and maybe iron out our differences. A conference may halt our present drift to anarchy.
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