The National Conference was inaugurated by ex-President Jonathan on March 17, 2014 in Abuja, with about 492 delegates that represented a cross-section of Nigerians including professional bodies. The conference was headed by retired Chief Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, assisted by a Vice Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi and Secretary, Dr Valerie Azinge.
The conference, which lasted for five months, was largely supported by groups and individuals advocating a restructuring of the nation. As a result, the body deliberated on such issues as Devolution of Power, Political Restructuring and Forms of Government, National Security, Environment; Politics and Governance, Law, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Reform. Others include 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, Energy, Religion, Public Finance and Revenue Generation, among others.
Saturday Sun gathered that while some groups and political interests in the South of the country are still mobilizing secretly to begin agitation for the implementation of the confab report, prominent northern leaders who felt that the region was shortchanged at the summit have begun to put pressure on President Buhari to abandon the recommendations of the report.
According to one of the northern leaders championing the thrashing of the report under the aegis of the pro-North Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF): “If you look at the representation at the conference and its recommendations, you will discover that the North was not treated fairly. So, it will be unfair to an entire region with the largest population within the Nigerian federation to fold its arms and allow the implementation of the lopsided recommendations.”
The ACF chieftain, who does not want his name in print, added: “The organisers of the conference know from the beginning that it was going to be an exercise in futility because it was designed to achieve a pre-conceived political and economic agenda by one or two sections of the country.”
Giving credence to the move to abort the implementation of the confab report, National Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), and former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie told Saturday Sun that the forum will soon meet President Buhari over the report of the 2014 national conference.
He said: “I was the chairman of the northern delegates to the 2014 national conference, so I can tell you anything about it, but I cannot tell you whether President Muhammadu Buhari will implement the confab report or not. I can only speak about it if we meet with Buhari on the report. And we will soon meet him.
“However, it could be recalled that the total figure of nominees for the conference from different groups was 492, out of which the North despite its large size and higher population was given only 189 delegates while the South had 303 delegates and later increased to 305.
“This already placed the northern region in a disadvantaged position in terms of representation and voting on issues that affected the North.
“Furthermore, we went to the conference with no other agenda except to ensure that Nigeria remains one indivisible country with equal opportunities for all.
“We also stuck to the ACF’s roadmap of peace, unity and development which we submitted to the Northern Governors Forum after a two-day workshop in 2011”, he said.
FROM ADE ALADE, ABUJA AND NOAH EBIJE, KADUNA