The issue of state creation which members of the National Conference dabbled into since last week, is now threatening to tear the confab apart as some members said they have been short changed.
In a heated argument that ensued on the matter today, the former Nigeria Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Josephine Anenih had to advise the delegates to mind the way they speak, just as she advised the Chairman (Justice Idris Kutigi) “not to allow anyone raise your blood pressure. We don’t have to die because we want to make Nigeria great.”
Trouble started today when Yusuf Abubakar, from Sokoto State, drew the attention of the Chairman of the conference, Justice Idris Kutigi to the letter he said delegates from the northern part of the country sent to him on some of the decisions taken in the past.
Kutigi had called delegates to suggest amendments or move for the adoption of the minutes of the debates and proceedings of Thursday.
“So, Mr. chairman, it is very important to let us know your reply and we are serious about the issues we raised in the letter. We cannot adopt the minutes without hearing from you,” Abubakar said.
He reminded the conference that it must abide by its rules that provides for a situation where, when a voice vote is taken and some delegates are not satisfied, he said those delegates have the right to call for a division.
Kutigi however ignored him and called for further amendment to the reports, if there were any even as Abubakar insisted that the issue he raised must be addressed, saying that the conference had taken some decisions in error.
A labour delegate, Mr, Issa Aremu, in his contribution, also faulted the recommendation for the creation of states, saying that it was wrong to create more states when those in existence according to him, were battling to pay salaries.
This comment further emboldened Abubakar who stood up and said: “We are making error because the proceedings are wrong.
“I won’t sit down because these are fundamental issues. It is my privilege under Order 10 Rule One that says all decisions shall be by consensus or be decided by 70 per cent of delegates present. I called for a division, but we are being ignored. We have to use the law and not convention.”
At this point, Kutigi became angry and said, “I can rule you out of order. I then rule you out of order.”
Another delegate, Aisha Madawaki, wondered how the names of the states were arrive at, and demanded the modalities used, insisting that the delegates were not consulted.
Abdulsalam Olawale, in his submission, said it was wrong for the conference not to have named Ose as one of the states to be created, saying all the people from the area where the proposed state would be created have agreed to its creation.
Mr. Robert Audu told the conference that the compilation of the states to be created was fraudulent, saying the list did not emanate from any of the conference committees.
A traditional ruler from the South-West, Oba Aderemi Adedapo insisted that Oduduwa State was on the list of the states recommended to be created.
“The agitation for the creation of this state, whose capital would be in Ile-Ife, has been on for the past 30 years. We want the state evaluate every Yoruba believe that he hails from Ile -Ife.”
Senator Ibrahim Idah also queried the allocation of two states to the North-West, when he said, the zone remains the most populated in the country, just as Mrs. Talatu Nasir from Katsna State, wondered why states like Kaduna were omitted.
As delegates were booing many of the speakers, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari appealed to delegates to stop shouting down other delegates even if they did not agree with views being expressed.
He reminded them and the conference leadership that the Northern Delegates Forum had drew the attention of confab leadership on the abuse of the Voice Votes and that they felt very strongly that amendments should not be considered as the final outcome of confab.
He said confab leadership promised to look into the matter and urged the leadership to continue to guide the confab well.
Gambari suggested that Confab must strictly follow the rules of procedure. He urged that the use of voice votes should be minimized.
He went on to recommend that all amendments to issues should be sent to delegates earlier. He said all that he said are contained in the letter they sent to the confab leadership.
A former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, regretted the action of some delegates, which he said was becoming negative when the conference was widening down.
In anger, he said it was wrong for anyone or tribe to assume that Nigeria belongs to them, saying: “this country called Nigeria is made up of equal citizens, and that was the basis of its amalgamation. We are all the same and no one is bigger than the other.
“We have children that went to some of the best schools in the world, so, no one should come to flaunt his professorship here. No one must insist that only his point of view should be reflected.”
He particularly frowned at Prof. Awwalu Yadudu for a letter to another delegate, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi in which he said delegates from the north were withdrawing from a committee of 18 delegates who met earlier to arrive at positions on behalf of all the zones.
He appealed to delegates to be united and avoid sentiments.
Another former Minister, who was also a former Acting National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Haliru Mohammed said though he agreed that consensus had been used in reaching agreements and that the conference should stick to it,
“The report of the committee is not sacrosanct and we should be allowed to meet and talk on issues that are not agreeable,” he said amidst shout of ‘no, no,” by some delegates.
Yadudu sought for permission from Kutigi to respond to the issues raised by Clark and Dokpesi.
He said it should be on record that Dokpesi was wrong to say what was circulated in form of agreement among the six zones was the decisions reached by the committee that Gambari and himself led. “No issue such as term of agreement between the zones were agreed,” he said.
He added that Dokpesi was wrong to say he was not a member of the 18 delegates. He said he was a member alongside Bello Suleiman and Ruqayyat Rufai from the North-West
Yadudu said he was not in the conference to scuttle it as being speculated. “In fact, on the contrary, I am one of those who made it possible for the confab to proceed as one of the 50 wise men”, he added.
He said since he represents a people and express the views of such people who he said sent him to the conference, he had no regret over his actions.
On the document, he insisted that it was nothing “but a set of agreements reached by the South-South, South-East, South-West and some elements of the middle belt.” [myad]