By Elem Chukwuemeka.
The on-going National Conference resumed on Monday with robust debates on the Rules of Procedure; a framework meant to regulate the activities of the Conference and the conduct of delegates during both the plenary and committee sessions.
Presided over by the Conference Chairman, Honourable Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, the session opened with a prayer and adoption of Votes of Proceedings while each delegate was mandated to complete certain registration procedures at the Conference centre.
Based on motions moved and supported by members, Conference agreed that the Rules of Procedure should be considered clause by clause. The motion was moved by Mohammed Kabiru Jibrin from the Northwest Zone.
Seidu Dansadau, a former senator suggested that anytime a motion was moved and seconded, the chairman should thereafter put the question for immediate decision in order to facilitate proceedings since members were prone to speaking on one issue for a long time and possibly repeating what previous speakers had said.
He also advised that once an issue has been debated, decided upon and adopted, it must not be revisited. His position was supported by former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah.
Dr. Osahon Enabulele, president of the Nigerian Medical Association suggested that a time-frame be attached to the provision authorizing President Goodluck Jonathan to appoint a replacement for any of the officials of the Conference who might resign from office.
Another issue that attracted long debate was that of quorum. While some people suggested one third of members, others said 50% of members must be present at either plenary or committee meetings before a quorum could be said to have been formed.
At the end, when the question was put, it was the position of the majority that one third of members of the Conference or committees would form a quorum during each session.
Strong objections and counter objections were equally raised with regard to the time of sitting; from 10 am to 2 pm before lunch break and from 4 pm to 6pm.
Former Governor of Ogun State, Segun Osoba in a motion, gave reasons for the need to adjust time of sitting on each day. He cited principally, the need to give room for lobbying by delegates. His position was that time for lunch break be reduced to one hour while sitting on each day should end by 5 pm. He was not however rigid about the space of time.
Victor Attah, who supported the motion, said the “afternoon sessions would be completely empty,” and suggested that “straight sitting from 10 am to 4 pm be adopted by the Conference.”
The most prolonged debate of the day was drawn from a motion moved by Mike Ozekhome, SAN; it was on the determination of questions proposed during the Conference especially on controversial issues.
He said while the draft rule of procedure stipulated that in the absence of a consensus, 75% of delegates must vote for such an issue to sail through, he moved that Conference should adopt the two-third majority vote practicable both in Parliaments and other groups.
Ozekhome was supported by other speakers like Gani Adams, Bisi Adegbuyi among others.
Auwaalu Yadudu from the Northeast disagreed. He said the President’s address was explicit on the unity of the country; and that for decisions to be adopted and implemented, it must attract sufficient support of delegates across the country and that delegates must not accept the assumption that consensus on critical issues would be impossible.