National Confab Adjourns Sitting Over Rowdy Session

Delegates lost their temper yesterday at the National Conference, screaming, shouting and swearing. The trouble was over the derivation principle.
Northern delegates, led by former Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Coomasie, vehemently opposed the recommendations of a select group of elders to peg the derivation principle for oil producing states at 18 per cent.
The proposal sought to increase the derivation principle from 13 per cent to 18 per cent for oil bearing states.
Another thorny issue for the conferees was the percentage of revenue sharing formula between the Federal and state governments.
The stalemate on the issues forced Conference Chairman Justice Idris Kutigi (rtd) to summon a meeting of “50 wise men” (a group of zonal elders) to seek a way forward for the conference.
Signs of trouble started early in the morning before the proceedings.
Deputy Conference Chairman Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi invited Prof. Anwalu Yadudu for a “private discussion”.
The convener of the Consensus Bridge Building Group, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, accused Yadudu of working in concert with others to break up the conference.
Akinyemi was said to have urged Yadudu to assist the conference in finding a common ground on some contentious issues.
At the beginning of proceedings, Akinyemi told delegates that on Wednesday, Ambassador Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, gave a verbal report of the consensus committee on derivation formula.
He added that Gambari had submitted a written copy of the report to the conference secretariat.
Hardly had Akinyemi concluded his speech when Alhaji Basir Dalhatu, a northern delegate, moved a point of order.
When he was recognised, Dalhatu said he was a member of the consensus negotiation team but did not sign Gambari’s report.
Dalhatu also told the House that most of the signatories were not original members of the team.
The conferee said that he asked Dokpesi, who produced the report, to meet with him for reconciliation of certain portions of the document.
He vowed not to accept the report unless certain sections of it were reconciled.
When Dokpesi walked into the chamber, Akinyemi told him that the document he served the House had been challenged on the floor.
Akinyemi said he had agreed with Kutigi to give Dokpesi and Dalhatu one hour to reconcile gray areas of the report.
One hour later turned into hours as other members of the negotiation team joined Dokpesi and Dalhatu.
As delegates waited endlessly for the consensus- building team to return, Mr. Isaac Osuoka, a member of the civil society, said the consensus group was unknown to the procedure rules of the conference.
Osuoka asked delegates to ignore the group as “it is self-appointed illegal assemblage of delegates.”
Justice Kutigi overruled him and insisted that delegates were free to form themselves into groups.
Dr. Haruna Yerima from Borno State said the conference should do away with voice vote.
He warned that any decision arrived at on the Committee of Devolution of Power report through voice vote would not be acceptable to the northern delegates.
Senator Musa Adede warned that the conference was drifting.
“This conference is deviating and drifting from how we started. Those attempting to intimidate the chairman must retrace their steps in the interest of this conference and the country. Nobody must be allowed to intimidate the chairman.”
As tension continued to rise, Justice Kutigi said the conference would skip derivation and go ahead to consider other recommendations of the Devolution of Power committee.
On revenue sharing formula, the committee recommended that the ratio should be 42.5%, 32% and 22.5% for federal, state and local councils to replace the subsisting 52.28%, 26.72% and 20.02%.
Some delegates proposed that the sharing formula should be 60% in favour of states and 40% for the federal government, bearing in mind that the conference had adopted the proposal that local council matters should be transferred to the states.
There was uproar as most northern delegates insisted that provision must be made for local government councils.
Senator Mohammed Saidu Dansadau from Zamfara State said: “The constitution states clearly that the revenue sharing formula shall be between federal, state and local government. Therefore any revenue sharing formula the conference want propose must be between the federal, state and local government. Nothing less of than that.”
Those behind the agitation to scrap local government councils shouted him down and reminded him that the conference had already adopted a proposal to make local government matters  state affair.
Akinyemi reminded delegates that they voted to transfer local government councils to the state.
He said the voting had its consequences.
Proceedings were halted for over 45 minutes. The unfolding scenario compelled Akinyemi to warn that the leadership would no longer permit point of order or point of information.
Delegates were not deterred as they continued to discuss loudly in groups.
Akinyemi reeled out further proposals sought by delegates as the revenue sharing formula to include: 35% for federal and 65% for states; 42.5% for federal and 57.5% for states.
Akinyemi said the issue should be stood down for necessary consultations.
The acrimony between northern and southern delegates widened as the consensus building group walked into the chamber.
Akinyemi asked “High Chief Dokpesi where is the document?”
Northern delegates shouted “no document, no document, no document, no wuruwuru here”.
Akinyemi objected to the use of the derogatory word wuruwuru (deceit) as confusion continued in the chamber.
He asked that the microphone be handed over to Alhaji Coomasie, leader of the northern delegates.
Coomasie said: “I am the leader of northern delegates to this conference and a member of elders who have met for three days to arrive at some comprise on the issue of derivation.
“We failed to reach any comprise on the issue. Therefore any report submitted to the secretariat on the issue, do not have the backing of the northern delegates. We reject such report.”
Coomasie’s speech made delegates to cluster in groups while the shout of “no, yes, no, yes” reigned in the house.
Akinyemi said since consensus had failed, the conference must move forward.
He listed 18%, 21%, 21.5%, 25%,, 30%, 40%, 50% as the percentages of derivation delegates proposed to vote on.
He also read the proposal which sought the scrapping of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Amnesty Programme, and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs while their function should be transferred to the states.
Akinyemi read another proposal which wanted an interim bridging arrangement of 50% derivation which will be phased within 10 years and eventually increased to 100% over the years.
Justice Kutigi said the problem of the secretariat was that the ballot paper for voting has only the provision of “yes or no”.
“Our problem is how to group the proposals into two to record the voting pattern,” he said.
There was more confusion in the House as delegates began to shout on top of their voices.
Chief Olu Falae, leader of Yoruba delegates and a member of the consensus group elected to read the conclusions of the team, noted that Nigeria’s problems would come and go while the country would remain.
Falae said he is a member of the consensus – seeking committee that had been meeting for three days.
He asked for decorum to enable him read the committee’s conclusions.
The shout of “yes and no” interjected him.
Falae persisted to read the conclusion amid loud shouts of “no document!, no document!.”
The document read: “Proposed amendments to the report of the Committee on Devolution of Power.
“Amend recommendation (a) on page 39 of the report of the committee by substituting with the following:-
“1(a) Provided that the principle of derivation shall be constantly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than eighteen percent (18%) of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly from any natural resources
“2(b) That not less than 50% of the total derivation fund accruable to a mineral bearing state shall be due and payable to the host communities within the state where the resources are derived in accordance with the production quota contributed by such communities.
“2. There shall be established a Solid Mineral Development Fund, which is currently 3% of the Federal Government Account referred to by the committee on page 40 of its report, it shall be increased to 5% and will be applied to Solid Minerals Development in the states.
“3.There shall be a National Intervention Fund, which will be 5% of the annual revenue accruing to the account of the Federal Government for stabilisation, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and insurgency, in the first instance in the North East of Nigeria and any other parts of the country affected.
“Or in the alternative
“3,There shall be a National Intervention Fund which shall be 5% of the annual revenue accruing to the account of the Federal Government for the stabilization, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and insurgency, in the first instance in the North East of Nigeria, North Central, North West any other parts of the country.”
Falae proceeded to the high table to hand over the document to Justice Kutigi.
There was commotion in the chamber.
Justice Kutigi made attempts without success to bring order to the house.
“Be orderly, please be orderly” Justice Kutigi shouted.
He said it appeared the consensus committee did not conclude its job as reported by Coomasie.
“Our intention is to give them more time to conclude their job,” he announced.
What followed was shouts of “no, no, no we want to vote!”
Amid the confusion, Justice Kutigi announced that proceedings would be adjourned till 9am on Monday.
He invited the committee of 50 wise men for a meeting today to look for a way forward for the meeting.
The Yoruba delegation dissociated itself from the report of the Consensus Group on resolving the impasse on derivation issue.
A statement by Dr. Kunle Olajide, Secretary South-West Delegation, noted that the report, which was presented by Gambari on behalf of the group, in addition to proposing 18 per cent derivation to the oil bearing states, also proposed 5 per cent first line charge for the development of mineral resources and another 5 per cent National Intervention Fund in Boko Haram devastated areas in the Northeast as well as other areas affected in Northcentral and Northwest.
It said: “The Yoruba delegates, arising from a caucus meeting, rejected the report, stating that it gave a wrong impression of what the intervention fund was set to achieve.
“The fund should be aimed to serve the collective interest of the country and not a sectional interest as presented by Prof. Gambari.
“Southwest delegates view Gambari’s projected amount to depletion of the Federation Account through nebulous funds to promote insurgency in the country.
“It is also aimed at legalising the impoverishment of non-oil bearing states in Southwest, Southeast and Southsouth as these states, neither benefit from derivation nor the so-called intervention fund.”


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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