THE Senator Femi Okurounmu led Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue/Conference has drafted an agenda to restructure the country along a presidential or parliamentary system of government with a bicameral or unicameral legislature.The Okurounmu committee which recommended the commencement of the national conference next month before full blown campaigning for the 2015 general elections also proposed the election of one delegate per federal constituency as a way of drawing participation of the grassroots.“The advantage of electing Delegates on the basis of Federal Constituencies is that it allows for wider participation of the grassroots,” the committee reported.national-conferenceBesides the 360 delegates to be directly elected by universal suffrage, 185 delegates representing special interest groups are to be nominated including one woman per state, one youth per state, traditional rulers per state. In each of the special interest groups, the Federal Capital Territory would be represented while the Federal Government would make four nominations for each of the groups.Physically challenged, professional bodies including the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress and the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA are also to be represented. Others are the Organised Private Sector, 3, Faith based organizations, Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, 2; Christian Association of Nigeria, 2; and Traditionalists 2. State Governments and FCT, 37; Federal Government (2 Executive, 2 Legislature, 2 Judiciary) Armed Forces and Police 4; and Diaspora Representatives 2.The Okuruonmu committee nevertheless also suggested the election of direct delegates by senatorial constituencies as an alternative for electing delegates so long as the great majority of delegates are directly elected. The conference is to be managed by a Conference Management Secretariat to be headed by an Executive Secretary who shall be the administrative head of the conference.Excerpts from the committee report read thus: After a careful appraisal of the issues involved as well as their apparent complexities for national harmony, the Committee recommends as follows:
That the structure of the National Conference as recommended in Chapter Six shall make provisions for representatives of interest groups through nomination, so their total number compliments the number of the Delegates to be directly elected through universal adult suffrage.
The President should nominate the representatives from the identified key interest groups in active consultation with them such that, the interest groups themselves do the actual presentation of the names of those the groups want the President to nominate as Delegates to the national conference.Interest groups In addition to the interest groups listed earlier namely, Women, Youth, Traditional Rulers, Physically-Challenged, Professional Bodies, Organized Private sector, Faith-Based Organizations, the Diaspora, Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms of Government, Armed Forces and the Police, the credibility of the Conference will be enriched by nominating representatives of the main regional socio-political organizations such as the Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Middle-Belt Forum, South-South Peoples Assembly, etc. Every State Government shall nominate one Delegate and the President through the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory shall nominate one Delegate for the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. In the event that any State fails to nominate a Delegate, the President shall nominate a delegate for the said state.
The Committee recommends that the total number of Delegates from the socio-political groups should not exceed 36 at 6 per Geo-Political Zone. The socio-political groups invited to nominate the Delegates should decide for themselves who their respective representatives should be.Recommendations: To advise Government on a time-frame for the national conferenceIn view of the above, this committee now recommends as follows: 1: The National Conference should hold for duration of not less the three months and not not more than six months.
The convening of the National Conference in the year 2014 possibly between the months of February and July, thus concluding the exercise before the onset of the 2015 electioneering campaigns.The committee recommends that the government should address the following:
The official name of the conference should be the National Conference.
The National Conference shall hold at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
The National Conference shall have a chairperson and a deputy chairperson who should be persons of high unimpeachable integrity
The Executive Secretary of the Conference Management Secretariat shall serve as the Secretary to the National Conference and shall be responsible to the Conference for proper record-keeping and all other administrative matters.
Decision-making at the National Conference shall be by consensus but where that is not achievable, decisions shall be arrived at, by tow-thirds majority.
In order to ensure a fully democratic and peoples driven Conference, Government should ensure that, the total number of nominated delegates does not exceed one-third of the total size of the National Conference.
Rules of Procedure: In order to have a smooth and productive conference, the Conference Management Secretariat shall develop Rules of Procedure for the National Conference guided by the Standing Orders of the Federal House of Representatives.Election into the National Conference shall be by direct election through universal adult suffrage on non-party basis.Qualifications of Candidates for Election as Delegates to the National Conference shall be the same as those stipulated for standing election into the House of Representatives except that, candidates to the National Conference need not be members of any political party.
By Clifford Ndujihe, Charles Kumolu & Dapo Akinrefon