SEVERAL delegates representing sections of northern Nigeria at the country’s ongoing National Conference have threatened to pull out of the seminar in protest at what they term as biased and one-sided decisions. Yesterday, several northern delegates under the aegis of the Northern Delegates Forum (NDF) held an emergency meeting at the Gombe Jewel Hotel in Abuja to determine whether to go ahead with the conference or boycott it. They had earlier protested to the conference’s chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi and his deputy, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, calling for the nullification of all resolutions taken so far taken through voice votes, saying they did not reflect the views of delegates.
Leaders of the group included former inspector general of police Ibrahim Coomasie, Professor Anwalu Yadudu, Senator Khairat Gwadabe, Mohammed Kumalia and Mohammed Bello. They insisted on a proper ballot process for votes and queried why the conference’s leadership refused to use ballot boxes and papers already with the secretariat.
In addition, they accused the leadership of alleged floundering on resolutions. Among other things, NDF delegates were unhappy about voice vote resolutions on state police, rotational presidency, the adoption of six geopolitical zones, the deletion of local government from the federal constitution and the nature of federalism to be adopted by the country.
A conference source said: “After last Thursday’s session, the northern delegates issued a communique rejecting all resolutions/decisions so far taken by the National Conference because they came about through voice vote. They alleged that sometimes, when the nays had it, the leadership will turn the result for the ayes.
“They then sent the delegation to Justice Kutigi and Professor Akinyemi to revisit the resolutions by allowing members to vote through the ballot process. They are demanding an outright voting process on all issues to make the resolutions true reflections of the choices of delegates and they asked for the reopening of all issues.”
At the meeting, Justice Kutigi and Akinyemi pleaded for understanding and assured the delegates that their complaints would be examined. It is believed they agreed that without physical counting, there was no way it could determine the real resolutions of delegates.
One northern delegate Dr Junaid Mohammed, said: “This protest was not the first time that delegates from the north will raise issues with the leadership of the conference but the audience with Kutigi and Akinyemi last Thursday was the icing on the cake. I think Kutigi and Bolaji are behaving as if they have an agenda.
“Before we started, we had to adopt our rules. The government came up with a recommendation that for a resolution to subsist, it will require the consent of 75% of the delegates.”
However, a delegate from the southwest, Yinka Odumakin, added: “The rules of the conference say the conference cannot revisit any issue which decision has been taken.”
One of the southern delegates said that Professor Yadudu who is allegedly spearheading the breakup of the conference does not mean well for the country. He added that delegates are determined to do the right thing and no one should be allowed to railroad the process. –