Home NEWS POLITICS National Confab Runs Into Murkey Waters: Members, None Members Allege Bribery, Favouratism,...

National Confab Runs Into Murkey Waters: Members, None Members Allege Bribery, Favouratism, Discrimination

Kutigi flanked by Akinyemi and Azinge_510x350National Conference is now enmeshed in both internal and external conflicts over the constitution of the 20 Standing Committees to look into the various burning national issues in conformity with its mandate. While some members of the conference have accused the secretariat of discriminating in the choice of heads of the committees and taking bribe from those who were desperate to head or co-head the committees, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused the conference chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi of religious discrimination.
Some members of the conference have been mumbling bitter complaints that even during the plenary session, some members were regarded as sacred cows and given more than enough opportunities to speak on matters being discussed while those regarded as dark horses were denied a single opportunity to contribute.
“That was why the Lamido of Adamawa went wild when he was finally given to contribute when he said that if the conference continued to discriminate by denying certain members from contributing to discussions, he would pull Adamawa state from Nigeria,” a member recalled.
Another ‘dark horse’ member complained that many names of his type were missing in the first committees that were announced, adding that even when the committees were re-jig, they were grouped in obscure committees.
“Some of the so-called high-profile members were said to have bribed the secretariat staff to make them chairmen and co-chairmen of lucrative committees,” another delegate said.
Meanwhile, CAN leadership has expressed concern over the composition of the leadership of National Conference Committee on Religion. It accused chairman of carrying out an Islamic agenda.
The association accused the ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria of appointing a Muslim from his home state, Niger, as the chairman of the committee but refused to make a CAN delegate a co-chairman.
A statement by the Director (National Issues) in CAN, Mr. Sunny Oibe, entitled ‘Justice Idris Kutigi’s Islamic Agenda & Confab Committee on Religion’, said the appointment of Bishop Felix Ajakaiye was laced with mischief as he was representing Ekiti State in the conference and not CAN.
Oibe said the mischief became more pronounced when Kutigi decided to include the name of a delegate, Dr. Jonathan Obaje, representing Nigerians in the Diaspora as a member of the Committee on Religion, after granting permission to him to travel abroad.
The association therefore demanded equal representation in the confab, adding, “If Muslims are 12, Christians must be 12 in the committee on religion.”
The statement reads:  “We hereby express our reservations on the composition of the members of the National Conference Committee on Religion and without fear or contradiction state that the Chairman of the Conference, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, has done his wish to ensure that the leadership of the committees favours Muslims in Nigeria.
“He is from Niger State and the Committee on Religion should be a sensitive committee. The chairman has decided to scatter the Christians in the confab and now brought Nurudeen Lemu, the son of Sheikh Lemu, who is also from Niger State, to chair the committee and did not pick any delegate representing the Christian Association of Nigeria.
“The supposed Christian in the committee, Dr. Jonathan Obaje, representing the Diaspora in the confab, has been given express permission by Kutigi to travel back overseas for holiday; he is not even in Nigeria at present and does not represent CAN. The delegate is not around and Christians will be affected during voting.
“Bishop Felix Ajakaiye, who was named co-Chairman in the committee is representing Ekiti State and not CAN. In that case, we have already lost and the ratio will now be 12 members for Muslims and six for Christians.
“To us in CAN, Justice Kutigi is working out a script to undermine the interest of the Christians in the confab. Ordinarily, the Christians, who have been at the receiving end from the members of the Boko Haram Islamic sect in the North, should be a co-chairman in the Committee on Religion. But what Kutigi did was to pick a Muslim from the North as chairman and a Christian from the South-West (Ajakaiye), who has little or no knowledge of what is happening in the North as co-chairman.
“The interest of Christians in this case, will not be adequately protected. Already, the confab is a stage-managed conference. President Goodluck Jonathan has a good intention; but there is a problem in allowing Kutigi to be chairman.
“Justice Kutigi is from Niger State and he decided to pick his Muslim brother from Niger State to head such a sensitive committee. So Christians in Nigeria are not happy and we don’t expect that a man, who is highly placed like Justice Kutigi would allow his religion to override national interest. That is why he decided to keep the issue of religion and the committee to himself closely.
“So we are asking the Vice Chairman of that Conference, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, what he is doing there? It may also interest Nigerians to note that none of the delegates sent by CAN were allowed to head any committee in the confab; this is unfortunate. Where is the transparency? Where is the equity and fairness?
“For us, we have no problem with Ajakaiye but we see his choice as a mischief by Kutigi. Ajakaiye is a Christian from the South West but to us, a Christian from the North and CAN delegate, who knows how Christians are being slaughtered on daily basis by Boko Haram should be the co-chairman of the committee. But Kutigi refused because he is carrying out an Islamic agenda.
“These are the same people, who claimed that Jonathan skewed the conference to favour the Christians. But the truth has now been revealed that Kutigi is the person who skewed the committee to undermine the Christians.”
In his reaction to the allegation, the Assistant Secretary of the Conference on Media and Communications, Mr. Akpandem James, said there was nothing wrong in the composition of the committee on religion.
He said, “Is Bishop Ajakaiye not a Christian? Somebody is a Christian and because he is not a CAN delegate, he shouldn’t be co-chairman? Look, CAN is just an association and it is not every Christian that is a member. Not all churches in Nigeria are members of CAN. Must somebody come from Borno or Yobe State before heading a committee on religion?
“We had few people representing CAN and is that a group that should dictate what to do? The committee is made up of Christians and Muslims,whether you are a member of CAN or Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria. Are there not other members of SCIAN? People are just looking for trouble where there’s none.”

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