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Confab: Sub-Committees Set Up To Tackle Specific Issues

Akinyemi and Kutigi

Committee sessions at the on-going National Conference in Abuja took off in earnest on Tuesday as scheduled. All the 492 delegates have been divided into 20 Standing Committees sitting at two venues.

Ten of the Committees are sitting at the National Judicial Institute while the remaining 10 sit at the NICON Luxury Hotel, near the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

At the close of business on Tuesday, most of the Committees had already set up various sub-committees to deliberate exhaustively on various issues ranging from the economy, religion, politics and governance to devolution of power, restructuring and national security.

Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah who is the co-chairman of the Committee on Devolution of Power, told members of the Committee not to take their focus off the imperatives of convening the National Conference as contained the speech delivered by President Goodluck Jonathan during the inauguration of the Conference.

Describing the assignment before his Committee as critical, he referred delegates to a speech by retired Gen Yakubu Gowon in 1966 in which he made allusion to the fact the obvious obstacle to unity and progress in Nigeria lies in existing structural imbalance.

Attah said it would be necessary for delegates and committee members to fall back on the 1914 Amalgamation Document; the Henry Willink Commission of 1957; the 1963 Constitution, Gowon’s 1966 broadcast; and the Political Bureau Report of 1987.

He declared that “If we keep this at the back of our mind, we will make progress.”

The Committee’s co-chairman and former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Coomasie, in a short comment, said the main focus of the Committee was to decide whether a huge political and economic power should remain at the centre or should decentralized.

He was quick to add that deliberations by the Committee should be based on the belief that “if you have government, and you don’t have the resources, then you cannot serve the people.”

It was his belief that ethnicity and religion will cease to play a significant role in Nigeria after the Conference; and urged the Committee members to listen to and respect the views expressed by members so that decisions can be based on consensus.

The Committee on Devolution of Power has as its focus: a review of legislative lists of all the tiers of government; fiscal federalism with emphasis on revenue sharing, resource control, and sharing formula.

Professor Jerry Gana who co-chairs the Committee on Politics and Governance with Chief Olu Falae, said the true test of good governance is in the degree to which it delivers development projects, thereby guaranteeing the right to quality education, sound healthcare, adequate housing, regular power supply, justice, fairness and equity.

He said good governance must place great emphasis on pragmatic strategies for achieving positive and cost-effective results in public administration.

Prof. Gana said, “It is all about getting things done cost-effectively. Good governance thus ensures the rule of law, promotes due process, improves efficiency, insists on accountability, tackles corruption, elevates excellence, facilitates productivity and delivers high quality services to the people.

“Good leadership is central to the achievement of good governance. In fact, the driving force of good governance is good and effective leadership. Without good leadership, only very little progress can be made, if at all.”

Prof. Gana said since good governance is largely about the art of making good things happen, visionary leaders are essential so as to motivate people into positive action.

To make this happen, he said visionary leaders must be passionate about achieving results; adding, “Passion is a deep desire; a profound craving; a deep commitment; a definite resolution, or an utmost motivation to get things done.”

The co-chairman disclosed that visionary leaders do not wait for the future to come; instead, they create the future. “They don’t wait for others; they take the initiative to make new things happen.”

The Committee on Politics and Governance is expected to examine such issues as immunity clause; good governance and democratization; minority rights/ethnic nationalities; corruption, constitutional amendment; freedom of information; and the role of traditional rulers and institutions in governance.

Co-chairman of the Committee on National Security and former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Muhammadu Gambo Jimeta, described security as the fulcrum upon which the entire architecture of a state revolves.

He went further to say that security is the foundation of all governments and that, “without it, no state can carry out the constitutional responsibilities to its citizens which include protection of life, enjoyment of peace and the pursuit of daily activities that bring dignity to man.

“It is also important that we approach it with our expertise, experience, maturity and the subjectivity the issue demands. We are here for proffering solutions to the issue of national insecurities that have befallen our nation and there is nothing you can do except you meet the demand of national security.

“One critical section in this discussion is the budget that supports national security. Each of us here has nothing to learn about national security because we have served in one capacity or the other in the security agencies in this country.

“We know that we all have divergent perception of the issues of national security and the views of everybody will be considered even at the sub-committee level. If you have any opposing perception, you are allowed to raise it. We are going to break up into sub-committees where everybody can contribute.”

In his contribution, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, Bashir Albasu, said the idea of sub-committees was welcomed as such committees would do detail deliberation and whatever the committees submit would be analysed by the entire committee.

He urged members to make recommendations “that will make the security agencies effective. Once they are effective, they will deal with the big and small offences that are present in our country today.”

A member of the Committee, Nicholas Eze Emmanuel, said the Committee must be ready to find a lasting solution to what is actually wrong in Nigeria in the area of security.

He said, “The fundamental problem of what is actually wrong is a system collapse. The system collapse has affected the security agencies and how they function, and we are to make recommendations that will consolidate the present security agencies in the country.

“The basic issue we should try and address in our discussion of national security is corruption. People that were given money to put some things in place did not, and they were not supervised. The lack of jobs now made the issue more terrible.”

At the end of preliminary discussion, three sub-committees were set up to handle specific functions. They are the Sub-Committee on Crisis Management Bodies, Sub-Committee on Law and Order Infrastructure, and the Sub-Committee on Defence and Infrastructure.

The sub-committees were given three days to come up with their recommendations.

The Committee on National Security has on its agenda issues regarding the armed forces of Nigeria, the police, reform of the Customs Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, terrorism/counter terrorism, armed robbery, kidnapping, small arms proliferation, communal violence, election violence, illegal oil theft and smuggling, sea piracy, organized/transnational crime with a focus on money laundering, human trafficking, drug trafficking, terrorism financing, and cyber crime.






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