The Federal Government on Thursday came out with modalities for selecting all 492 delegates for the proposed National Conference, just as nomination commenced same day and expected to close February 20, 2014.
While addressing a press conference in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim said the conference will last for a total of three months and that nomination of delegates will commence on Thursday, January 30 and end on February 20.
He announced that the Federal Government accepted the Senator Femi Okunrounmu committee’s recommendation after extensive consultation and deliberation.
According to him, the conference shall be tagged “The National Conference,” and the conference has the responsibility to advise government on modality for integrating decisions and outcomes of the conference into a constitution and laws of Nigeria.
One striking thing about the recommendation is that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will however nominate the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Secretary of the conference which shall also have a secretariat.
Though not expressly stated as a conference of ethnic nationality, it however seems to have all such trappings; representing all interest groups including political parties. The President will however nominate delegates where state governors chose to play to the gallery by refusing to nominate delegates assigned to their states. See details below.
The National Conference shall hold in Abuja;
The National Conference shall tentatively last for three months and shall discuss any subject matter, except the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation, therefore the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable. A conference management secretariat shall be established to manage, administer and run the affairs of the conference;
Decisions at the National Conference shall be by consensus; but where it is not achievable; it shall be by 75% majority; The National Conference shall advise the government on the legal framework, legal procedures and options for integrating the decisions and outcomes of the national conference into the Constitution and laws of the country; and The National Conference shall have a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson of unimpeachable integrity.
A breakdown of the modalities for the nomination of the delegates is as follows:
Elder Statesmen: One per state and the FCT making a total of 37 to be nominated by the President;
Retired Military and Security Personnel which include one delegate per geopolitical zone each from the Military, Police, State Security and National Intelligence Agency – making it a total of 18 delegates to be nominated by stakeholders;
Traditional Rulers: two per zone and one from the FCT making a total of 13 delegates to be nominated by stakeholders; Retired Civil Servants: one per zone. A total of six to be nominated by stakeholders;
Labour Representatives: the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, shall each nominate 12 delegates making it a total of 24 which would reflect Geo-political and gender balance; The Organised Private sector: NECA, MAN, NACCIMA, NESG shall each nominate two delegates; Nigeria Youth Organisations: National Youth Council of Nigeria and National Association of Nigerians Students, NANS, shall each nominate six delegates, one from each geo-political zone, while the Federal Government shall nominate six delegates, one from each geo-political zone for “other” (Outstanding Youths and Role Models) making it a total of 18 delegates;
Women Groups: National Council Of Women Society, NCWS, shall nominate 12 delegates – two per geo- political zone, while Market Women Association shall nominate one per geo-political zone. International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA; Nigerian Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ; and Women in Management and Business, WINBIZ, shall each nominate two Delegates.
Political Parties: parties that have representation in the National Assembly, including the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, All Progressives Congress, APC, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Accord Party, Labour Party, LP, shall each nominate two delegates making it 10 delegates;
Christian and Muslim Leaders each shall nominate six delegates while Civil Society Organisations shall nominate 24 delegates across board.
Nigerians in Diaspora ( Europe, America, Africa, Asia, and Middle East) shall nominate two delegates per location, making it eight delegates;
People Living with Disabilities shall nominate six delegates, one per geo-political zone.
Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, Nigeria Guild of Editors, Nigeria Union of Journalists and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria shall nominate 2 delegates each;
Socio – Political/ Cultural and Ethnic Nationality Groups shall nominate 15 delegates each, per geo-political zone to reflect religious and ethnic diversities.
Professional Bodies including NBA, NSE, CIB, NMA, NIM, NIA, ICAN, ANAN, NIPR, AAPN, NIESV, Nigerian Environment Society and Nigeria Economic Society, shall each nominate one delegate, making it a total of 13 delegates.
National Academies including the Academy of Science, Academy of Engineering, Academy of Education, Academy of Letters and the Academy of Social Sciences shall each nominate 1 delegate.
The President shall nominate six persons not currently serving on the bench from the Judiciary; Former Political Office Holders including former governors, Senators Forum, House of Reps Forum and the Association of Former Speakers shall each nominate one delegate per geo-political zone making it a total of 24 delegates.
The Federal Government of Nigeria shall nominate 20 delegates of which at least six will be women;
The state governments shall each nominate 3 delegates while the FCT shall nominate 1 delegate based on Senatorial District at least one of whom shall be a woman. The nomination shall be done by the state governors and where the state fails to nominate, the President shall nominate the required number from the state.
The ALGON shall nominate one Former Local Government Chairman each from the six geo- political zones; The President shall nominate the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Secretary of the conference observing geo-political spread.